Namaskar is a formal greeting mentioned in Vedic scripture accompanied by a hand gesture (Añjali Mudrā) in which the palms are together, and most of the Vedic deities of goddess and demigods are seen in this gesture. The word “Namaskar” is derives from the Sanskrit root “Namaha” which means paying obeisance, bowing or greeting and “Kara” from “kri” root means Doing, where as in namaste “te” stands for you. Namaha can also be understood as a physical action expressing that “you are superior to me in all qualities and every way.” Roughly translating Namaskara means “I bow (to you).” Namaskāra (नमस्कार, “obeisance”) is also mentioned in purana and tantra as “offering obeisance” and represents one of the sixteen upacāra, or “sixteen types of homage and services.”
Namaskar is most popularly used as a greeting in Indian, Nepali, Bhutanese, Bangladeshi, Thai and other Southeast Asian cultures. Perhaps more familiar to Westerners is its use in some yoga traditions. Surya namaskar, is one of the most common sequences in yoga practice. Many hatha and vinyasa yoga classes begin with a Surya namaskar sequence. While namaskar’s close cousin, namaste, is often used as a greeting or closing in yoga practice in west.
Namaskar is used for both greetings and farewells, but carries a deeper significance than a simple “hello” or “goodbye”. The joining together of the palms is said to provide connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and represents unification. This yoking is symbolic of the practitioner’s connection with the absolute in all. Hence, anjali mudra honors’ both the self and the other.
We originally are not these bodies but instead soul present inside. Bhagavad Gita suggest that Soul and Supersoul are present inside the body and the greeting of namaskar denotes us the Soul offering Salutation to the Supersoul present in heart of other being in front of us. This way of greeting each other helps us realizing the life force present inside the body, the inner self and its relation with the companion master (Supersoul).
Scientific aspects of Namaskar:
Neurologically there are numerous nerves ending to our palm. We bring together the palm and fingers together linking the tips of fingers together then the nerve circuits of the brain are linked to those of the upper body, flowing the sensation of calmness and well being in our body. Joining the tips of all fingers together activates nerves pressure point of ears, eyes and the part of mind associated with memory helping us to remember the person, things, incident, conversation etc. for long time.
Also, in yoga science each finger is representative of certain energy. Little finger represents tamas or the dullness and ignorance, ring finger represents rajas or the passion and activity, middle finger represents sattva or the mode of goodness and refinement, index represents Jivatma or the soul and thumb represent Paramatma or the Supersoul. So according to the Yogic mudra science just by putting hands in different positions and gesture we can make the whole system work in different way. Mudra in hands (Signs and gestures) can actually express much more than we can express through words.
Social/Psychological aspects of Namaskar:
When we meet with the person there always exits the duality of likes, dislikes, love, hate, etc. in bodily, intellectual or emotional level. But when we meet anybody our neurons should not be flooded with these sorts of dualities and conflicts but instead our intension should be purely to enhance each other’s life ahead. Carrying any intension else than benefitting for the upliftment of one another’s life its better not to meet anyone. Be on yourself. Now joining hand in Anjali mudra or doing namaskar we bow down then the acknowledgement of the atma (soul) develops the attitude of mutual friendship, understanding and oneness, removing all our egoistic and dualistic way of seeing things.
Physical aspects of Namaskar:
Anjali mudra is performed as part of a physical yoga practice with an aim to achieving several benefits. It is a “centering pose” which, according to practitioners, helps to alleviate mental stress and anxiety and is therefore used to assist the practitioner in achieving focus and coming into a meditative state.
The physical execution of the pose helps to promote flexibility in the hands, wrists, fingers and arms.
Spiritual aspects of Namaskar:
The spiritual growth enhances when greeting of namaskar is done. The acknowledgement of presence of the Paramatma (Supersoul) during the act develops the attitude of surrender, gratitude and humility. When the recipient also compliments it develops spiritual connection between two soul offering Namaskar to Supersoul present in each other’s body.
During Namaskar, the greeter thinks, “you are superior to me; I am the subordinate one. I don’t know anything, you are omniscient, endless, and the moment this thinking crosses the mind, ego reduces and modesty increases. This material body is platform to pay gratitude to the Paramatma for everything he gave to us.
Significance of joining hands in Namaskar:
It is the Veda that bestowed knowledge to the world that a living body is made up of five elements namely Water, Air, Fire, Earth and Ether(sky). Human body is a micro-cosmo in this cosmic universe. The human body is composed of immense energy produced from these five elements. There is constant and enormous flow of energy within the human body. The energy cannot be neutral, it is either positive (+ve) or Negative (-ve), where our freewill is the determinant to choose one.
These elements cannot be destroyed but transformed. All elements at the end rest on Sky element, which is endless. By doing Namaskar mudra a greater level of divine energy is absorbed into the body via sky element. The person is connected to sky element. The concentration of energy increases while uttering the word establishing relation with air element via sound energy. The mudra itself is associated with absolute earth element connecting us to the earth, fire and water. This connection of one’s bodily elements with cosmological elements helps one to uplift oneself in the higher dimension of reality.
Health benefit behind Non-Physical contact in Namaskar:
Physical contact enhances the ease of flow of subtle energies between two body. The flow of energies between two people during handshake, hug or any contactable greeting is fatal for a positively energized individual, if he hug or shakes hand or come in any type of physical contactable greeting with a negativity filled pessimistic individual, the gloom from the person is transferred to the positive individual. The law of Karma suggests that the karma in subtle form also will be transferred by handshakes. The changes in lines in hand of hand shakers can be observed in long run. While in namaskar as there is no any physical contact, the ability for one person to affect another negatively is minimized to huge extent.
There is no greeting for the material body but greeting for the divine master of Jivaatma (Soul), the Supersoul (Paramatma), which is all auspicious, absolute, the supreme, immortal, cause of all causes and full of bliss and knowledge. There are no chances of negativity in any way.
Furthermore, medically handshakes make person to lean and come in close contact with greeter and usually any harmful viruses and bacteria are to be spread mainly from person to person through respiration, touch and blood.
Similarly, COVID 19 coronavirus also spreads when a person comes into close contact with patient through respiratory droplets produced when an infected cough or sneeze, or touch to infected person of get in contact with infected belongings having droplets of virus.
Instead of greeting a person in handshake or hugging fashion, show gratitude, to respect the Suppersoul inside by folding hands in Namaskar Mudra. This way behind all other significance, benefits and higher principle mentioned above, we are also safe from absorbing the harmful viruses like COVID 19, sars, mars, Ebola, etc.
Practiced process of Doing Namaskar
- Take a deep breath and chant Hari OM in mind once and feel you are eternal soul, not body.
- Close your eyes gently.
- Focus that you are greeting the Supersoul (Paramatma) the causes of all present in the heart of person you are greeting.
- Pause to follow steps, and join hands in Namaskaram Mudra, bowing down gently.
- Utter Namaskar, Namaste or Holy names like Hare Krishna, Radhey Shyam, Narayana etc.
While doing namaskar do not have ill-feelings towards other person and don’t keep any Rajo or Tamo objects in hand like chain, money, handkerchief etc. Do not greet hurriedly and make sure the fingers and their tips are straight while doing Namaskar.