(Continued from page 2)

and so on. Otherwise; I did not know how and what to talk. You are the one who has given life (sanjIvayati) to my speech and made me give out this poem of praise. All this you are doing by your dhAma, i.e., your own Glory, Your Majesty and Your Will. To such a life-giving principle as you are, I make my prostrations.
And he uses the word
namaH as anybody would do in this context. The word namaH in Sanskrit has an esoteric connotation. In simple terms it means 'prostration'. But that is only in the translation, which is convenient, but not faithful. The combination of the syllables na and ma in the word has been interpreted by scholars to denote the self-negating expression na-ma-ma, which means, 'not mine'.  In fact it is even declared that there is a significance in the syllable 'na' preceding the syllable 'ma';  Man is so so feeble-minded  and so possessive that if he says 'ma' first, which signifies 'mine' he may not have the heart to say 'na' (signifying negation) later!
This expression of humility before the Lord has to be repeated infinite number of times so that it may get into our system and serve as a
vAsanA, even in our next lives.

For a fuller explanation of vAsanAsand other basic notions
of Hinduism go back to The Animal Passions of Man


So even when we ordinarily say namaH to someone, the polite greeting implied in the prostration is only an outer decoration, whereas the real significance of the usage of the word namaH is to say that we are making prostration to the divinity which is resident in the other person as much as it is resident in us. 'Prostration to you' (the ordinary usage of namaste, which is nothing but namaH + te) actually signifies 'Prostration to the Divinity in you'. It must be said to the credit of Hinduism  that this fact of Divinity being immanent in every living being has been inconspicuously but inextricably interwoven with a daily habit of greeting each other. More so, when one offers worship to the Almighty the word namaH gets added significance because it constantly reminds us that what we possess is not ours, it is all His. Very compassionately therefore, the Upanishad says:

If one worships Him with namaH, at his feet do desires prostrate.
taM nama ity-upAsIta / namyante'smai kAmAH //
taittirIya-Upanishad.


- meaning, desires obey him who worships God with the word namaH. Usually it is the desires that control us and make us their slaves. If only we can find a way of desires listening to us and our discretion, half the battle is won. This is exactly where

            © Copyright V. Krishnamurthy  July 15, '99                Home   Contents   NEXT