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It seems that a certain word has become a center of a bit of controversy and faddish popularity, of late. Some use it without truly understanding what it means, some use it for the true purpose expressed. Some don't like that so many people are using it. The word is 'Namaste.' The first use of note on this site was by my dear friend TinaLouise. After a good bit of research on both the word, the gesture included with it, and the true meaning of both, I decided to include it into my own vernacular. Soon, it seemed, everyone, their brother, and their DOG were closing their comments with 'Namaste, Timbill the Chocobo Farmer Hobbit,' or 'Namaste! Cheeky the Impeccable Weasel of Doom.' So, please...allow me to enlighten you as to the point of this word, and all the aspects that are included with it.

Literally translated, Namaste means '[I] bow to you,' derived from the word 'Namas,' meaning 'bow' and 'te,' meaning 'to you.' See? It's pretty simple, right? Okay. Now, on to the slightly more complicated part; the motion, or gesture, involved with the salutation.

Generally, the gesture to accompany a 'Namaste' is a bow of the head, sometimes of the upper body. The basic physical requirement of the bow is touching your hands, palms together, to the midpoint of your forehead, the location of the Hindu 'third eye.' Personally, I use the expression in tandem with the bow I, generally, reserve for a Martial Arts dojo, bowing to the yin-yang. It's all up to the person completing the gesture, how they want to do it. The point isn't the cosmetic gesture, but the feeling behind it.

Namaste is a universal greeting, whether greeting one person or a multitude, whether lower class, clergy, or even royalty. It has the same meaning, regardless. It can convey more in one simple gesture quicker and more efficiently than a handshake or a wave. When addressing a group of people, a wave can come across as apathetic, and there's no way to shake the hands of 10,000 people. However, a 'Namaste' can express humility and respect to as many or as few people as the situation calls for.

A handshake, or even a wave, while seen as a standard greeting in western culture, can be aggressive and unwelcome in other parts of the world. Part of this is derived from the origin of the individual gestures.

"Perhaps that moment of intimidation derives from the history of
the handshake. According to one anthropologist, the handshake
evolved in medieval Europe, during the times of knights. It seems
not all were laudable Lancelots or gallant Gallahads. More than a
few would approach opponents with concealed weapons and when
within striking distance do the needful, driving dagger or
striking sword into the unguarded paladin." ("Namaste! How to pronounce, what it means. http://www.flex.com/~jai/articles/namaste1.html)

The salute is of similar origin; while riding across the countryside in Medieval Christendom, one knight comes upon another rider. He's wearing a full suit of armor. He lifts his hand up to raise his visor, allowing him to see who's attacking him. Somehow, this, over generations, becomes bastardised into the modern salute. Only crazy westerners could do that. Oy.

Anyway, the point is, to me, all of our western physical salutations, with the exception of a true hug or the kiss on either cheek, are too harsh for my preference. I much prefer the reverence and true honesty conveyed through a 'Namaste' and bow.

Another, much deeper meaning to 'Namaste' is one implied by the bowing gesture. There is, in fact, a distinctly religious, or, at least, spiritual or ethereal connotation to 'Namaste' and bow. In Indian Hindu culture, it is used as a way of saying, effectively, 'I recognise the work and presence of the Deity in you.' This is shown in the touching of the third eye to the hands. It is acknowledging the work of a higher power in our very existence, and a respect for the other person for living a life for their Deity.

As a Tao Christian, my meaning, as well as my bow, is modified in my 'Namaste.' My bow is one of a Martial Artist. As a student of Tai Chi Chuan and a former student of Tae Kwon Do, my bow is one as give toward the symbol of the yin-yang, such as the one on the Korean flag. As a Tao Christian, my Namaste and bow means, to me, 'I recognise the work of God and the balance between yourself, as a human, and God, working to establish balance and order in the world.' The point isn't maintaining the exact original meaning of the gesture, but in maintaining the integrity and respect that it requires. Find your own meaning to it before you use it. Respect the culture form which it is derived, and respect your own beliefs when addressing others. You'll expand your horizons, and, I'd like to think, understand not only the world around you, but yourself, as well, a little better. However, if you are going to use 'Namaste' or, for that matter, any other greeting and salutation, or even any colloquialism, aphorism, of archaic saying, please...know what you're doing. If someone asks 'why do you say "Namaste?"' you can tell them about it. If they ask 'why do you spell it "recognise?"' you can explain it. You know why you pray, you why you don't. You understand why you go to school, or dropped out. Why not put that same cognition and respect into your own language?

This has been another 'Nugget of Joy' from none other than me. I now leave you, bowing, fist to palm, and give you a wholehearted 'Namaste.'

Thank you,
William A. Corder

------
'He who knows others is learned. He who knows himself is wise.'
-Lao Tzu

'Tomorrow will take us away,
Far from home--
No one will ever know our names,
But the bards' songs will remain.
Tomorrow, all will be known,
And You're not alone,
So don't be afraid
In the dark and cold
'Cause the bards' songs will remain.
They all will remain
In my thoughts and in my dreams
They're always in my mind....
Come close Your eyes;
You can see them, too.'
Blind Guardian,
The Bard's Song: Into the Forest



Comments

The following comments are for "On 'Namaste'"
by the Co.konspirator

On Namaste
CoKo. thank you for posting this. With one question to ponder for other reader's. What if "God Bless" had been the greetiong or "Vio Con Dio".

I read Tinalouise's explanation when she was first asked and I respectfully adhered to it, whenever I saw it. I never adopted it. Not because of the meaning. I loved the meaning and it so well suits Tina, how respectful, genuine, caring, etc. This I found when she explained its meaning I understood why she uses it.

It was good of you to bring this in with the full meaning. I understand the bowing in Asia, very highly respected. It is comparable...High respect.

To me, Lit.org is a place of "words". I do not agree that greetings of a commentor that were adopted should be an issue here. Only work that is submitted. Not our greetings. After all, certain things die down after tiring out. I dont' think some people who adopted Namaste will tire of it, as they understand it. It is only one word. Powerful and has it's place to belong.
I respect it, no matter who uses it or how often.
Coko, I thank you for bringing this to clarify it's meaning, that those who choose to use it will understand the true meaning of it, with high regards.
I understand it was written in a blog, where there is freedom of speech. But is not that something that we can all respect, anyone's choice of a greeting? I know Tinalouise was warmed to the idea that other's chose to share it with her. In so doing it was written many times.
So be it, though it is a greeting. Simply put, as in God Bless.

To you,
Megwetch,

Darlene

( Posted by: Dareva [Member] On: August 29, 2004 )

Darlene...
Thank you for your comment. I wrote this, not to discourage people from using the salutation, but to inform them of what they were really saying, and how I interpret it. I also put it forth to somewhat satiate those who have wondered what it means, and why it may have taken on such an explosion. I was, by no means, attempting to denounce the gesture, or its use; simply to inform the general audience about what it actually means, both universally and personally. I'm sorry, to you, and anyone else, if this piece came off as angry, upset, or anything possibly negative.

Namaste,
William

( Posted by: the Co.konspirator [Member] On: August 29, 2004 )

On Namaste
Thank you for this in depth look at this word. I really enjoyed reading and truly understanding it. I use the word when I write to Tina, one because I like the meaning, two because I know she warms up to it, and I feel I am showing her how much I respect and enjoy her. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Nae

( Posted by: nae411 [Member] On: August 29, 2004 )

Addendum
It was brought to my attention that I left something out of the article that I meant to mention, but it seems it slipped through the cracks while I was writing it. 'Namaste' isn't meant to be a standard greeting, like a handshake or saying 'goodbye' or 'hello.' It is, customarily, meant as a direct sign of respect. Casual use of the word is considered disrespectful. I can't believe I left that out. My humblest apologies to all...

Hiding in a corner now before I really piss someone off,
William

( Posted by: the Co.konspirator [Member] On: August 29, 2004 )

on namaste
handshakes and howdy do's all around.

glad you cleared that up Co.
thanks.
williamhill

( Posted by: williamhill [Member] On: August 29, 2004 )

Oh No, CoKo,,,
I am sorry you may have misunderstood me....I feel that you did a wonderful and honorable thing.
I am grateful to you, that you did this. I never read anything negative either.

Perhaps I may have been wrong in carrying on and on, as this issue did upset me the way it was handled in the blogs....I was indirectly speaking to not point fingers. That is not my way.
In the last paragraph I do say, of it written in the blog Coko.

I am humbly apologizing if you thought I read anything but anything positive in your write here.
I am VERY impressed with this and it leaves me with a positive feeling. You did what I wished I could have done for Tina, for anyone who respects and uses Namaste.

Megwetch,
Darlene


( Posted by: Dareva [Member] On: August 29, 2004 )

Megwetch??
I'm happy for a more complete understanding of "Namaste", thank you, CoK...but now I wonder, what is Megwetch?

( Posted by: MzJen1 [Member] On: August 30, 2004 )

Thank you Mzjen
Megwetch is a coming-and-going greeting. It can also mean thank you. It is of the First Nations (This version is the Ojibway spelling) My mother was Cree-French.

Darlene

( Posted by: Dareva [Member] On: August 30, 2004 )

Friends...
Please...feel free to call me William...

me

( Posted by: The Co.konspirator [Member] On: August 30, 2004 )

That's cool!!
I love coincidence! After trying to figure out for the past 10 years what Native Ethnicity I am, I discovered last week that I am of the Cree French Canadian tribes, for one. Wow, can't believe it. Lol...I feel oddly light hearted for some inexplicable reason.

( Posted by: mzjen1 [Member] On: August 30, 2004 )

Enough.....
Although well written, much more ado about nothing. Will we be returning to some actual writing soon?

( Posted by: Odysseus [Member] On: August 30, 2004 )

Namaste
William,

In a recent comment I wrote the meaning of Namaste(I Bow to Thee)in brackets, trying to explain the implication of this. Your explanation of the origins and meaning of this salutation was excellent.

As a fellow dojo user, I will not say martial artist, as Judo is not a martial art, just 'the gentle way', we use simply a bow for the dsame purpose.

Namaste is not a blessing, as in 'bless you' and I do not feel you have made 'more ado about nothing' as this is important to me.

This salutation shows respect for the person or people you are saluting, but more so than the forces type salute, that at times mearly respects the position they are in.

This is a respect between souls and I think in your words you have done it proud.

Ivor


( Posted by: ivordavies [Member] On: August 30, 2004 )

also
the word was also used by conquerers to thier enemies, as in bow to me, or bow to the executioner to be beheaded, in all respect I will bow to no man, but I am truly enlightened with this site, it is refreshing and provides loads of quality writers. My hats off to all of you, and nice research by the way....Bob:)

( Posted by: poetryman [Member] On: August 30, 2004 )





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