Sunday, 28 September 2014

Complex Meaning of Namaste...

Published: April 21, 2007 on Helium

As Latin is to Europe and the Mediterranean regions, so Sanskrit is to India and Nepal. Sanskrit is a classical language, an ancient language no longer currently practiced. The word Namaste has Sanskrit origins. The Hindu religion gave birth to the concept of Namaste. And so unveils the first complexity of its meaning. Is it possible to translate the word Namaste into English effectively?

Some of the popular translations include:
* The God in me greets the God in you.
* The Light within me greets the Light within you.
As with Latin, it seems to take a number of English words to represent a single Sanskrit word.
No wonder there is room for variation, and even error?

Namaste is used as a traditional symbol of greeting AND parting in India and Nepal. While the word is spoken, a small bow (the head) is inclined to the receiver. Both hands are closed together in front of the third eye, and then brought down to the chakra or heart. However, there is further complexity. Sometimes, the gesture itself symbolizes the word, so Namaste need not be spoken.

Some hardy etymologists have sought to seek further meaning in the word; that the ma element means spiritual death and, when negated with na-, the concept of immortality is imbued into the word.
Who really knows for certainty whether this could be true.
And what does this all mean exactly?

However, the complex meaning of Namaste does not just focus on the origins of the word and its original meaning. The complexity continues into the 21st century.

Many commercial enterprises have taken a shine to the implied mystery of the word. Yoga businesses are at the forefront. Thousands are called Namaste. There is a Namaste web ring for all Namaste branded products, including natural health and cleaning products. Namaste Cafe is an informative New Age website. In California, there is Namaste Plaza, an Indian supermarket. And the ultimate finding, British Airways staff, in India, say the word Namaste to entice people to travel on their airline!

So how is this range of businesses translating the word Namaste? The interpretation seems to connect to a New Age medley of products, to all things natural, to all things Indian. What is the common denominator?

I wish I could answer succinctly. It seems the 21st century is charmed by the ancient aura of the word, instills it with all manner of rejuvenated life, and doesn't seem to worry too much if the original spirit is a little lost in the mists of time.

And so I say...


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