What is the Appropriate Response to Namaste?

If you’ve read any of the other previous entries here you’ll know that what Namaste means is essentially ‘I bow to you’. That’s why you’ll see people nod their head down slightly when they press their hands together in front of their chest and speak the salutation. We’ve also gone on at length that it shouldn’t be pigeonholed into being about yoga practice, because it’s really much more than that and one of the interesting facts about Namaste is that it has its roots thousands of years back in Vedic culture.

That’s one of just many Namaste facts, and it is definitely best not to sell this very spiritual and respectful greeting as anything less than an expression of reverence for the other person. Ideally the person receiving the greeting has that same respect for you, so what is the appropriate response to Namaste? That answer is simple – to say Namaste right back to them with the same hands gesture and bowing slightly but only from the neck up.

Yes, it’s a much shallower bow than the deeper ones you see in more East Asian cultures as compared to the Southeast Asian bows where Namaste comes from. This is just one of many of the interesting cultural differences from around the world, although a person from South Asia wouldn’t object if you bowed more deeply while saying Namaste. It’s just not usually done that way, and that’s another one of the interesting facts about Namaste. But really, as long as your palms are pressed together and you come across as genuine with your salutation then you can feel free to bow however you like. You can be more genuine with it if you understand more about what Namaste means, and so that’s what we’ll look at here along with more on interesting facts about Namaste.

Deity Understandings

It’s great to be reverent towards everyone in your yoga class, but if you’re going to say Namaste to someone in any other scenario then it is best to have a more solid understanding of what Namaste means. ‘I bow to you’ is a good basic definition of that, and that’s the first of interesting facts about Namaste. But when used with the true and original intention of the term as it was created somewhere between 1500 and 600BC it has deeper meaning to it than that even. These are Namaste facts.

There’s an element of divinity in it, and some say that a more accurate definition of Namaste is that by saying it you are saying that ‘the divine in me recognizes the divine in you’ and then by saying Namaste back to them – as you should – you are saying that you recognize the divine in them. This is also one of the interesting facts about Namaste, and it does sort of make it that maybe you should refrain from saying it at all if you’re an atheist with an extensive collection of high-powered firearms.

Namaste – And Mean It

But in all seriousness, what needs to be taken away from this if nothing else is that you shouldn’t say Namaste too casually or in an instance where it doesn’t fit. That’s especially true in you’re in any of the countries of South Asia and you’re hoping to make a favorable impression on people you meet. It’s not a casual expression, and if you say it the person being spoken to will likely prefer that you have some understanding of what it means to go along with interesting facts about Namaste.

And if they do, they will be more likely to be sincere when they say Namaste back to you. Which as we’ve said is the correct response to Namaste. Pretty simple – you just mirror the salutation right back at them! There’s really not much more to it than that, but again you should be selective about saying it others when you are saying it first. There’s a real depth of meaning to it, so you shouldn’t just say it because you’re inclined to do so. Again, namaste facts.

Why the Om?

Some folks wonder why people make that telltale ‘om’ sound when engaged in the types of spiritual practices where you might say Namaste. This is another of the many interesting facts about Namaste, and the answer is that the om sound is to represent the symbolical embodiment of diving energy – also known as Shakti – and how that relates to creation, preservation, and liberation. It is also believed to be a basic sound of the universe.

By making the sounds you are attuning yourself to the connection between the world and the spiritual universe. This is again acknowledging divinity, and that is such a core concept that any discussion of interesting facts about Namaste will always come back to.