By: Radhanath Swami
Why do people in India fold their hands and say ‘namaskar’ or ‘namaste’? This apparently simple act in the Indian culture has profound significance. Every living entity is a part and parcel of God and servant of all other children of God. When we offer ‘namaskar’ we are reminding ourselves of our constitutional position of being a servant and also acknowledging others as our objects of service.
My guru, Srila Prabhupäda taught us that a devotee addresses all others as prabhu, master; that means we take a humble position. “Namaste” means that we bow our head down, we prostrate ourselves; it’s an act of worship. And who are we bowing down to? We are bowing down to the Lord within the heart of that person. If we are conscious, we would offer respects even to an ant, in our heart, because we are identifying the presence of God and the presence of a part of God within even that ant. Wherever there is life, there is the presence of a part of God. So when we say namaste, we are actually offering our obeisance. We are offering our worship to the Lord within the heart of that person.
“I am for God, I am the lover of God, I am loved by God, I am the servant of God, I am the servant of the servant of God, and I am the well-wishing instrument of God’s love towards every living being, with all humility.” The emergence of this realization is the greatest attainment in life.
Offering respect- not just as a lip service but to actually feel it- is real culture. That is the essence of spirituality.