The Mystic Understanding What 'Namaste' Means

Understanding What 'Namaste' Means
Recollect the ranbhoomi scene of Mahabharata- Unchallenged, unparalleled Arjuna had stolen the show. He was about to be declared warrior of the day & that’s when it happens- arrival of Karna. He wants to take on Arjuna, but due to his low-birth it was forbidden to him. Duryodhana saves the day for Karna, by crowning him the King of Anga.

What does Karna do?

Veda Vyasa in Mahabharata writes:
“Karna sets his emotions free to flow, through his eyes, in the form of tears. He asks Duryodhana, “How may I be of service to you?”
Now think, what you would have done in a similar situation- a man saves you from national humiliation and makes you a star. What would you say?
I would say, “Thank you”, as a reflex. But Karna didn’t. Note the choice of his words,”How may I be of service to you”, and not “How can I repay you?”
Let’s look at it from the prism of another incidence-

Incidence 2
Recollect- Hanuman meets Sita in Ashok Vatika, as a messenger of Rama. He shows her Rama’s ring & tells her that her husband would be here to rescue her. How did Sita respond?

Rishi Valmiki writes:
“Upon knowing that he is a messenger of Rama, she blesses him. With a heart overwhelmed with joy & grief, she says; “Give your master my Pranam (salutation)”
Now think- If you were trapped by the most feared person of our times & suddenly someone comes and says, “Rescue team is on its way.”  Wouldn’t you thank that person repeatedly or at least send your gratitude to the rescue team?
Sita didn’t.

Does this mean Sita & Karna were ungrateful?
Before judging further, let’s understand the how a person can destroy his/her positive karma by feeling indebted towards another...
Meaning of Namaste
Meaning of Namaste
In today’s society, saying ‘thank you’ reflects our politeness & practicing gratitude gives us a label of being a ‘spiritual.’ However, for a learned man, or an enthusiast of ancient Vedic wisdom (like Karna & Sita), saying ‘Thanks’ or ‘expressing gratitude’ this is a sign of ignorance. Don’t be shocked just yet! There’s a reason.

By saying ‘Namaste’ we are saying ‘I bow to the divine in you’ by which we are glorifying the act of kindness by that person, and not the person who has done it. And performing an act of kindness is dharmawhich every man on this Earth should follow- it is not a favour.

Whereas by saying ‘thank you’ we form a Karmic alliance with that person. The feelings you attach for the person (and not the act in particular) leads to future karmic connections, and the cycle continues. Our conscious mind may not be aware of this process though, because over the years we have become aloof to our inner & true self.
So when we say ‘Thank You’ we hurt the other person in two ways:
1. We tie the person in a Karmic knot
2. We take the person further away from the inner-true self

Even Krishna mentions this in Gita while talking about Vedic concept of wisdom.
Gatsangasya Muktasya Gyanavstitchetasah|
Yagyayachratah Karma Samagram Praviliyate||
-Gita 4.23

It means that when we perform an action, surrendering our every action as a service to society, we get freedom from the bondage of karma. There’s no negative or positive karma attached to such an act. An saying 'Namaste' sends out one such vibe. This can ultimately change your destiny.
om or aum
Om or Aum
So what to do in daily life?

There are three ways:
1. Follow Karna’s model: Gift the person the pleasure to witness the joy the action has brought to you, by expressing our emotions. Then connect your heart with the wisdom that the person didn’t do a ‘favor’, but merely performed his dharma. You, in turn, perform yours.

2. Follow Sita’s model: Bless or offer salutations to that person, whatever comes naturally to you.

Please note- the blessing/ salutations should be seated in love & not in gratitude.
For example- When we fetch a glass of water to our grand-parents, they don’t say ‘thank you’, they say ‘Bhagwan bhala kare’ (May God Bless you), ‘jug jug jiyo’ (May you live long) etc.
Keep calm and Namaste
Keep calm and Namaste
3. Use Namaste often: Namaste means ‘I bow to the divine in you’. This means that you’re acknowledging that the performed action was an act of dharma & you are bowing to that.
For example- Remember those times when you shopped at a local confectionery store, the guy never thanked us for shopping with him, like billing guys in supermarket. That’s NOT due to lack of sophisticated manners, but the fact that Indian tradition never trained us to feel indebted to anyone or bound ourselves to anyone karmically.

4. Path of least resistance: You may say ‘thank you’ with your mouth, but keep your heart & emotions firmly seated in any of the above mentioned options.

The author Kirti Tarang Pande is a Yoga & meditation professional. She is also the founder of Home Yogis' Home.

Visit Kirti Tarang Pande's Website at :

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