Monday, January 14, 2008

Namaste: Is this Indian greeting still relevant?

Namaste has been the traditional Hindu greeting to both family as well as strangers. However, with cordiality escaping from our hearts, the use of the term is becoming more like a burdensome ritual, and at some instances the greeting is considered an inferior version of “Hi!” The biggest evidence comes from the fact that many Indians do not bother to reply back to a Namaste with a Namaste. Some would just nod, while others may simply ignore you. Though the ideal response to Namaste in Indian culture involves repeating the same term with folded hands, even if the initial greeting comes from a child or a financially disadvantaged person, some hesitate to use the greeting for even elder relatives. Because Namaste means “I bow to the Lord in you,” the few that do respond may not mean it when they utter it. In such an environment, has the greeting become obsolete?

While this greeting is physically spoken to a human being, it is actually directed towards God, who resides in all. And when your communication (or any other karma) is for the Lord, whether the person you communicate to reciprocates with a good wish should never be a concern. You can assure yourself that the Divine, the real spectator for a “Namaste,” always lovingly accepts your greetings. With God as the focal point of this salutation, Namaste, like the alternate traditional greeting, “Rama, Rama,” remains a perfected, eternal greeting from a timeless culture.

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