Namaste – So Much More Than A Greeting

12 Mar
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:An_Oberoi_Hotel_employee_doing_Namaste,_New_Delhi.jpg

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:An_Oberoi_Hotel_employee_doing_Namaste,_New_Delhi.jpg

I openly share my ignorance when I admit that up until very recently, I thought ‘Namaste’ was simply the Indian way to say ‘Hello’.  I was raised in a Christian household, and have had little to no exposure to other religions or cultures outside of what I’ve seen on television or perhaps clicked past on-line, and didn’t put forth much effort into remedying my ignorance.  To be completely open about it, I still don’t do much to proactively investigate other religions or cultures past their relation to something I’m thinking about or researching, but I do learn little tidbits here and there.

I recently learned that ‘Namaste’ and the pressed hand gesture/slight bow combination in Hinduism literally means ‘I bow to the divine in you’.  This wouldn’t have meant much to me a few weeks ago, but I’ve been watching a series of interviews on YouTube recently featuring Sister Shivani where she speaks often about the importance of remembering that everyone is a soul, and began pure and good.  I know not everyone even believes in the existence of a ‘soul’, but regardless of your beliefs, you can’t deny that we are all human, we were born innocent and pure, and are the way we are as a result of the things we have been taught or experienced in the time since we were born.

I could be totally off the mark since Hinduism isn’t my forte, but I imagine that the practice was created as a reminder to the person giving the greeting that everyone else carries a spark of the divine within them, and to treat them accordingly.  Even if I’m way off the mark, I think it’s a good concept.  With this thought in mind, I have often found myself wishing that there was a universal non-religious, non-nationality, non-political greeting we all used when greeting one another to remind us that the person we are interacting with is a human being, first and foremost, and should be treated accordingly.

So if you see me on the street and I give a slight bow and say ‘Greetings, human’, I’m not crazy pretending to be from outer space, I’m reminding myself that you are a fellow human being, worthy of kindness, respect and dignity before all else.

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