Namaskar vs Namaste | Origin, Meaning, and More

Namaskar vs Namaste

In the West, Spiritualism will never be as profound and prominent as it is in the East, but it is true that a greater number of people here are discovering the benefits of spiritual wellness. Through spiritual wellness we show greater respect and reverence to others in our interactions with them, but at times we may not do it with the same focus on physical gestures that people within India and the greater Asian areas do. Most of us in North America will associate the term ‘Namaste’ with yoga, but that’s really selling it short when it comes to the real meaning of the word and the significance of it. Same goes for Namaskar meaning.

If we are to define Namaskar, we can make it simple and say that it and Namaste have the same meaning. Both terms have their roots in Sanskrit language, and Namaskar is going to be more common in parts of Southeast Asia where the language and culture are more prominent. The Namaskar meaning is the same as Namaste, and the translation of it in English is to say, ‘I bow to you’. Namah or namas in Sanskrit is the word for bow.

Expanding on that it also encompasses the essence of oneness and understanding the true nature of reality as it pertains to human existence. One thing those of on this side of the big ponds will know is that the expression is paired with the palms of hands pressed together as the person bows, and there is significance in that too. This is a primary symbol for showing respect for another person, and there’s no limitations on who you can express respect towards.

In fact, in these cultures you’re encouraged to have respect for everyone and that’s something we can learn from too. This has been a good introduction to the Namaskar meaning and the difference of Namaste vs Namaskar, and we’ll get into it further now for those of you who have an interest in spiritual wellness practices.

Expanded Definition

Explaining Namaste as meaning ‘I bow to you’ is accurate enough and a good simple explanation of the term, but it may be helpful for you if we expand on the definition. Namaskar is comprised of the root words “namas” and “kara”, which translate into “doing”, while Namaste is comprised of “namas” and “te” meaning “you.”

More thorough translations and uses of Namaste and Namaskar meaning for those of us in Western cultures could be any of the following meaning (in accordance to the Sanskrit language):

  • I honor the place in you where the entire universe dwells
  • I bow to the place in you that is love, light, and joy
  • You and I bowing to each other signifies our true nature, we are one
  • My soul recognizes your soul
  • I am honoring the place in you that is the same as it is in me

All of these interpretations can be consolidated into one overarching meaning when it comes to how we can define Namaskar. That is that it represents the idea that all are one, and that beneath the outer trapping that make the individual appear different from others we are all the same.

This is obviously a very benevolent and spiritually helpful way of viewing other people, and it’s something that we could use more of given the very insular nature of humans in Western society. Further, there are likely elements of this mentality and belief that would be helpful in western society’s more general understanding of individualism vs collectivism. Embracing the uniformity of the human spirit and existentialism is going to be a net positive for anyone who is capable of it, and the meaning of Namaste or Namaskar is in line with that.

Making a Pact

We’ve made clear that the Namaskar meaning most people will have is the same as Namaste, a greeting with palms together. So we’ll wrap this entry up by explaining that the real understanding of the term and its origins run so much deeper than that. Acknowledging another person’s presence with Namaskar or Namaste in south eastern cultures is also your statement that you’ve chosen to identify with God-consciousness rather than the consciousness of the ego.

It’s believed that innate human weakness leads them to identify with ego-consciousness, but that with spiritual learning and reformation a person can come to understand that they are neither superior nor inferior to any other being on the planet. This angle on Namaskar meaning is very functional within meditation practices. In a sense it’s a reflection of the fact that you have made a pact with a higher power, and that can be true no matter who or what you see to be your God. In some ways it is nice that the meanings and principles behind Namaste don’t have to exclusive to any one religion in this manner.

We’ll conclude by saying hopefully the next time you hear or read the word Namaste, you’ll have a much more profound understanding of Namaskar meaning and honoring the light in yourself and others.