Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Namaskar Mean?

Namaskar is a respectful greeting or parting salutation in Hindu and yogic traditions. The word is derived from the Sanskrit base namaha, which means “not me” and refers to bowing in reverence. It is sometimes considered a synonym of namaste, but there are subtle differences in their meanings. Namaste is the more popular and informal term, meaning “salutations to you” or “I bow to you with respect,” while namaskar is more formal and translates as “I pay my salutations.”

When using either greeting, one typically places the hands in prayer position in front of the chest and bows the head slightly.


Yogapedia Explains Namaskar

Spiritually, another difference is the intended object of the greeting or departing salutation. With namaskar, the object of the greeting is the supreme consciousness within the other person. Namaste, however, is typically used to bow to a divine entity, so on a spiritual level, the “you” to whom the salutation is directed is the divine. The meanings of these two words vary by region and tradition.

Namaskar is composed of three Sanskrit words:

  • Nam, which means “to bow to”
  • As, which means “to be” or “to exist”
  • Kar, which means “doing” or “one who does”

Namaskar, therefore, is sometimes translated as “I do the act of bowing with reverence.”

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