Namasté – Concept, origin, use and various meanings

We explain what the word namaste means, its origin and how it is used. Also, what senses can it have in the East and the West.

The word namaste is accompanied by a posture of communion and humility.

What is namaste?

The word namaste (pronounced and sometimes written as namaste or námaste) is a greeting from the Sanskrit language, the original language of the ancient Indian civilization, whose origins date back to 3500 BC. C.

It is used both to greet and to say goodbye, to give thanks and denote respect. on the other in many contemporary cultures, accompanied by a slight tilt of the torso or head and by a gesture that brings the palms of the hands together.

As with many of the practices and symbols inherited to the West from Eastern cultures, namaste is a greeting endowed with spiritual, mystical or pseudo-religious connotations, depending on the area in which it is practiced, and incorporated through practices such as the yoga or meditation, and in religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism.

Origin of namaste

The word namaste It is native to Sanskrit, a classical language of India and one of the oldest Indo-European languages that are known. It is made up of the words Namah (“Reverence” or “adoration”) and tea (“To you” or “to you”), so that its original meaning could be understood as “I revere you” or “I salute you”.

Some of the first appearances of this word in the West come from the years of British colonial rule of India, transliterated as namasthe (into English) and linked to traditional Indian representatives.

The term gained figuration after the independence of India, and even more when their culture and traditions began to enjoy a high esteem among Westerners, at the end of the 20th century, during the so-called “New Age” period in which they tried to overcome the philosophical impasse of the West by making use of oriental culture.

Namaste meanings

The position of the joined palms that accompanies the namaste is considered a mudra or symbolic posture typical of eastern religions such as Buddhism or Hinduism.

It is considered a posture of communion, which when joining the two palms links the rational (right) and spiritual (left) aspect of the human being, together with a slight bow of the head that denotes humility. In fact, in Hinduism the right palm is associated with the feet of God and the left palm with the head of the devotee.

Namaste is very common as an opening and / or end gesture of a yoga session, such as a sign of gratitude and greetings towards other practitioners and towards the practice itself.

The enthusiasm in the West for Eastern practices led many to adopt namaste. A) Yes new senses emerged, generally linked to the divine and with other western clichés from which eastern religiosity is often thought of. None of them, however, have any kind of etymological or historical validity.