What is the Meaning of Namaste?

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What is the Meaning of Namaste?


Any traveler to India or Nepal, or any practitioner of yoga, will no doubt have seen the Namaste greeting spoken many times. It consists of people speaking the word Namaste to each other.

The word ‘Namaste’ is actually a combination of two words, ‘Namah’ and ‘te’. ‘Namaste’ comes from the word ‘Namah’, which means ‘bow’ in the Sanskrit language. Thus, Namah also means means ‘deep respect, appreciation, adoration, or acknowledgement of someone’.

The additional suffix ‘te’ means ‘you’. Thus, ‘te’ refers to ‘the person to whom the speaker is addressing’.

Thus, Namaste means ‘I bow to you’, or ‘I acknowledge your presence a sense of deep respect’.


The word, ‘Namaste’,  is usually accompanied by a small bow, with the hands pressed in a ‘praying’ position against the chest. This position is an ancient one (it is seen on terracotta figures that are thousands of years old), and it is known as the Namaste position.

Usually, when we talk about the meaning of Namaste we are not just referring to the word Namaste. Rather, we are referring to the word and the gesture: they exist together as a single unit.

Namaste can be said as a greeting when people meet, or as a salutation before parting. In some cases, the gesture is not accompanied by the words, but the meaning remains the same.

It is one of the most known forms of Hindu greetings around the world. Namaste is important in the Hindu culture for various reasons. They include:

  1. The gesture together with the words ‘Namaste” is a well known form of Hindu greeting around the world.
  2. It is a symbol of respect and admiration for the person to whom it is said.
  3. The gesture is sometimes used to show appreciation for a good deed or an act of kindness.
  4. The gesture and words of ‘Namaste’ is also used by Yoga teachers as part of the yogic and pranayama practices.
  5. Namaste can also be used younger people in the family as a sign of recognize the authority of the elders.
  6. It also acknowledges the presence of an individual such as a noteworthy person in the society or a visiting relative.

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