Sunday, August 23, 2015

// // 7 comments

Namaste or Not?

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   
  

Namaste or Not?

 

Yaacov Levi asked: Do you know of any articles advising Jews not to say "Namaste," which I think means, "I bow to the divinity in you?"

 

Gutman's response:

     Namaste is a Hindu greeting. It is usually said while holding the hands palm to palm in front of the face or chest. In most cases today it is used without understanding its actual meaning. Generally, people who say it simply mean to give a polite greeting, and even if they knew what the word meant they would not understand its significance.

     A Hindu scholar writes:[i] "The reason why we do namaste has a deep spiritual significance. It recognizes the belief that the life force, the divinity, the Self or the god in me is the same in all. Acknowledging this oneness with the meeting of the palms, we honor the god in the person we meet."

     At first his explanation might seem to make sense, after all the Torah teaches that there is one life that fills us all, and that Hashem is the life. But as we read further we see what the Hindu scholar actually means.

     He continues: "During prayers, Hindus not only do namaste but the physical gesture is sometimes accompanied by names of gods like 'ramed ram', jai shri kishka', nameo narayana', jai siya ram' or just, 'om shanti' the common Hindu refrain."

     When the Hindu scholar wrote, "we honor the god in the person we meet" and "the self or god in me is the same in all" he does not mean that there is one G-d Who fills, surrounds, and is beyond all as the Torah teaches. He is saying, "I bow to the god within you."[ii] He means that "the god or goddess spirit within me recognizes and honors the god or goddess spirit within you."

     And even if you would like to think that they really mean "soul" when they say they "bow to the god within you," they say it is a "god or goddess spirit" in there. There are no god or goddess spirits in us. There are no god or goddess spirits anywhere. Hinduism has many gods, and this is idolatry.

     Can one say namaste to someone just as a popular saying without meaning what it actual means? Would you say an x-ian saying like, "Yashka loves you" to someone even if you do not really mean it?

 



[i]  Hinduism.about.com Subhamoy Das 

[ii] Urban Dictionary 

7 comments:

Josh said...

I appreciate this post. Can you advise on an alternate greeting I may say to the Indians I work with? I do say shalom often, but also like to make them feel comfortable.

Gutman Locks said...

Most Indian speak English so "Good Morning" with a smile always works.

Gutman Locks said...

Most Indians speak English so "Good Morning" with a smile always works.

dvorah rut Weidner said...

I am so happy that you wrote about this because I have been thinking about it ever since I saw a video following the earthquake in Katmandu, where a Chabad representative said this very word, with a slight bow, to the people who had come for supplies. I wondered if it was okay, and if she really understood the essence of the word. Thank for clarifying.

Anonymous said...

When someone greets you with a greeting you do not understand (foreign language, etc.), just answer in your own language, i.e.: Shalom, Greetings, Nice to meet you, etc. Never, ever answer with same language they use if you do not understand its meaning. Plain common sense.

Leah said...

Thank you thank you thank you..I cannot stand this saying and trying to explain this is like swimming upstream...

Unknown said...

I am an Indian jew living in Israel , Indians have 2 dominant languages the first is marathi in which they greet with NAMASTE and the 2nd is Hindi in which we can greet them with SALAM which means shalom in hebrew and most of the Marathi speakers speak Hindi language as well quite fluently.therefore seems to be no problem in saying salam
anat

Related Posts with Thumbnails