In today’s date, an english handshake has become ubiquitous and we Indians have also reluctantly or submissively accepted it. Most of us just shy away from doing a Namaste, unless our mother’s just announce it in the extravagant hall, “Beta, Delhi waale Mausa ji ke papa ki chachi ji aayi hai. Unko pranaam kar aao.”, from across the sofa for all the relatives to hear, leaving you with no other option but bringing your palms together, in namaste and even bending down and touching their feet, if your mother’s constant gaze is no less than a Lt.General directing his trained subordinate to accomplish a task.
Conventional Reason : Indians greet each other with namaste. The two palms are placed together in front of the chest and the head bows whilst saying the word namaste. This greeting is for all – people younger than us, of our own age, those older than friends, even strangers and us. There are five forms of formal traditional greeting enjoined in the shaastras of which namaskaram is one. This is understood as prostration but it actually refers to paying homage as we do today when we greet each other with a namaste. Namaste could be just a casual or formal greeting, a cultural convention or an act of worship. However there is much more to it than meets the eye. In Sanskrit namah + te = namaste. It means – I bow to you – my greetings, salutations or prostration to you. Namaha can also be literally interpreted as “na ma” (not mine). It has a spiritual significance of negating or reducing one’s ego in the presence of another. The real meeting between people is the meeting of their minds. When we greet another, we do so with namaste, which means, “may our minds meet,” indicated by the folded palms placed before the chest. The bowing down of the head is a gracious form of extending friendship in love and humility. The spiritual meaning is even deeper. The life force, the divinity, the Self or the Lord in me is the same in all. Recognizing this oneness with the meeting of the palms, we salute with head bowed the Divinity in the person we meet. That is why sometimes, we close our eyes as we do namaste to a revered person or the Lord – as if to look within. The gesture is often accompanied by words like “Ram Ram”, “Jai Shri Krishna”, “Namo Narayana”, “Jai Siya Ram”, “Om Shanti” etc – indicating the recognition of this divinity. When we know this significance, our greeting does not remain just a superficial gesture or word but paves the way for a deeper communion with another in an atmosphere of love and respect.
Scientific Reason : There is a scientific reason behind the ‘Namaskar’ in Hindu culture. Joining both hands ensures touching the tips of all the fingers together, which are linked to pressure points in the eyes, ears, and mind. Pressing them together is said to activate these, helping us remember that person for a long time.