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Do You Know the Way to Namaste?
Page 2: The Meaning of the Mudra

And what about the Namaste hands, held in prayer position close to the heart? It's interesting to note that the prayer position exists in both the Eastern and Western worlds. It is said that this is one of several hand positions that came about long, long ago to prove that the greeter was unarmed, thus signifying a mission of peace. But once again, the spiritual and religious connotations take the meaning to a different level. In Indian cultures this hand position is called the Anjali Mudra and it signifies bringing the dualities together - male and female, positive and negative, yin and yang, however you want to call them - to create unity. The implication is that all is One. To add an extra touch of reverence (or Namas) to the Anjali Mudra, the head is bowed just slightly and the fingers can be brought up to touch the area between the eyebrows (the third eye, or Ajna Chakra). Another variation is to bring the joined palms overhead, where the Crown, or Sahasrara Charkra lies. Both variations indicate an even deeper respect for the Divine. Once again, something simple - a gesture, in this case - gives the concept of peace a depth and breath that means much more than the lack of war and animosity.

(Article continued below.)

Ironically, while Westerners are increasingly becoming familiar with Namaste, in India it is slowly disappearing. Nowadays young people in India tend to use more Western styles of greeting and saying good-bye, such as the more casual "Hi!" and "See ya!" The traditional Namaste - and the similar Namaskar - remain popular with the older folks, or in a situation of hierarchy, such as social rank or age. But they're also falling by the wayside in business. Many Westerners, meanwhile, are just starting to scratch the surface of Namaste, and they like what they've discovered.

Even though most of us don't often explore the wealth of meaning in Namaste, it nevertheless seems to strike a chord. There's something about the word and the hand position that brings out something special in people. Since its intent is to promote peace and unity on a high spiritual level, Namaste eloquently expresses the best that Yoga has to offer.


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