Is namaskar the same as namaste?

Q:

Is namaskar the same as namaste?

A:

While these words sound quite different and look quite different from one another. They hold essentially the same meaning. In the West, we know the word namaste and use it often at the end, and sometimes at the beginning, of our yoga class. (Learn Why We Say Namaste.)

When we think of the word namaskar, we think of the surya namaskara, or sun salutation. Surya namaskara is a “salute to the sun.” But, namaskar, like namaste, is a salute to another person as well. The point here is that namaste and namaskar are both forms of greeting another human being while surya namaskara is a salute to the sun. Namaste and namaskar are both ways of saying, “The light in me sees the light in you.” Or they can mean, “I bow to the sacred in you.” (Read more in Why Salute the Sun?)

Namaskar comes from the Sanskrit word namaskara. And, while both namaste and namaskar hold the same meaning, bowing in gratitude to the sacred soul of whomever you’re bowing to, it’s believed that namaskar holds just a bit more spiritual potency. You can think of namaste as being more casual than namaskar. If you really want to infuse your greeting or goodbye with the most potent of sacred essence, try using the word namaskar instead of namaste.

Both words hold a kind of spiritual frequency, so, if one or the other resonates with you, then use the one that feels right. There’s no need to get lost in the minutiae, as you’re well on your way to spiritual awakening by virtue of being open and interested to the meaning of both namaste and namaskar.

Both words are a lovely way to acknowledge the beautiful and spiritual essence we all hold deep within us. We’re all gorgeous beings of light, and the practice of yoga allows us to become more and more attuned to this fact, especially the further we go. (Learn more in Wake Up and Salute the Sun.)

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Written by Aimee Hughes
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Aimee is a yogi and writer who's been practicing yoga daily for nearly two decades. Since a journey to India when she was 20, the practice has been her constant companion. She loves exploring the vast and seemingly endless worlds of yoga. Aimee has also written a book called, "The Sexy Vegan Kitchen: Culinary Adventures in Love & Sex," available on Amazon. Full Bio