Inner Meaning Of Namostute
According to ancient Indian culture and spirituality, the traditional way of greeting another person while saying ‘Namostute’ or ‘Namaste’ is to bring both the palms together in front of the chest and bow the head to the other person.
When we greet one another this way, it means ‘May our minds meet’. Bowing down the head is a way of expressing love, respect and humility. It acknowledges the fact that the divinity in me or you is the same in all. This greeting applies to everyone, whether those younger than us, of our own age, or older, friends and even strangers.
How did this practice originate? Here is an interesting story. There was an ashram in the Himalayas where a great sage and his disciples lived. The disciples respected the sage not only for his knowledge but also for his love and kindness towards all. Owing to his kind nature, he often accepted disciples who were spiritually immature, which resulted in silly misunderstandings and quarrels among some of his disciples. This disturbed the peace and tranquility of the hermitage.
One day the sage felt very disturbed to see their immature behavior even after his repeated advice but his compassion prevented him from throwing anyone out. Instead, he sincerely prayed to God for a solution. He fasted for many days, and spent the days in meditation and prayer. After some days, he had a vision of God and God asked him why he was sad. He explained everything and requested God to come to the ashram and free the disciples’ minds of jealousy and anger. The Lord agreed and said that He would come to the ashram on one condition: He would come in disguise as one of the disciples and nobody would know who was God.
The sage announced his vision to his disciples and about God’s decision to come as one of them. The disciples were very happy but they did not know in whose form God would come. So they became very gentle and considerate to one another, thinking that the other disciple might be God Himself in disguise.
They lived like this for a few months and soon peace and tranquility filled their hearts as well as the hermitage. They felt the Lord’s blissful presence in their pure minds. They started treating one another as none other than God Himself! The whole ashram reverberated with blissful positive vibrations!
The great sage and his disciples shared their experience with others and inspired them also to respect one another and to respect the divinity in everyone. Since then, everybody started greeting each other saying ‘Namaste’ with folded hands.
It might be very pertinent at this point to recall what Bhagawan Baba did on the evening of March 20th, 2011. Though His physical gesture did send everyone in Kulwant Hall into a kind of numb shock, it makes sense in retrospect. No gesture of the Avatar is small; every single one is pregnant with profound meaning and significance for mankind.
It was a Sunday, in fact the last Sunday of the physical form of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Bhajans concluded and Aarthi was offered. The Sai Kulwant Hall reverberated with ‘Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu’ and even as this was going on, Swami slowly raised His right hand. He was indeed exerting Himself beyond His limits of endurance to somehow keep aloft His hand, even for those few seconds. Actually there was a mild tremor in His hand; it was shaking. His other hand also rose, again with herculean effort. But His left palm was not open and raised like when He blesses with both His hands. The left palm with lot of struggle joined the right palm. I thought, ‘Oh, Swami is supporting His delicate right hand with His left’. But something absolutely unexpected and unprecedented happened next.
Just when everybody was expecting to see both His open palms raised in blessing, Swami stunned everyone by bringing His palms together and forming the Namaste posture. He did this on the gents’ side and then slowly turned to His left and did it on the ladies’ side too. Even as everyone gazed at Swami totally dazed and bewildered, His chair started moving. Soon He got into His car and left as if nothing unusual had happened. Only after the physical form of the Avatar left, did the significance of this incident hit me like a thunderbolt, because Namaste in India is generally done out of respect to greet others. And here was Bhagawan doing this to us! Just so that the message gets permanently imprinted in our hearts and minds.
Incident to show that Baba is indeed Lord Ganesha
Swami Amritananda came to Baba after the passing away of his guru, Sri Ramana Maharishi of Thiruvannamalai. When Amritananda first came to Prasanthi Nilayam, Baba accosted him as ‘Amritam’. Amritananda was genuinely astonished at the familiarity and even affection with which the call was saturated. He said, “Only Ramana Maharshi, with whom I spent 17 years, accosted me in that manner. The voice and manner were exactly the voice and manner of the Maharshi!”
Later Baba asked the 85-year-old Swami Amritananda about a Ganapati Homa, a sacrifice to Lord Ganesha, which he had performed for 41 days when he was 7 years old! Swami Amritananda told Bhagawan Baba all the details of that sacrifice, including the long mantra involved chanting which the offerings were placed each time in the fire. The mantra, as disclosed by Baba, begins, Om Sreem Hreem Kleem Gloum Gam. Baba told him that he had repeated this mantra a 1,000 times a day for 41 days and made as many coconut offerings in the fire of the sacred sacrifice. “But what is the reward promised in the scriptures?” Baba asked the old ascetic. He answered that if the sacrifice is done with scrupulous regard for ritual, Lord Ganapati Himself will appear in ‘the fiery enclosure’ (the homa kunda), as the golden-colored effulgent elephant-headed God; that with His trunk He will receive the final and concluding offerings and will grant everlasting bliss by means of His darshan. Baba asked him whether he had the Vision. Swami Amritananda replied that it was not so easy for a 7-year-old boy to get the Vision of the Lord by the mere number and quantity of offerings and mantras. Baba interrupted him, saying, “No, no. It is due to all that mantra and all that sacrifice that you have now come to Me. You will today, after an interval of 78 years, get the reward mentioned in the scriptures.”
He asked Swami Amritananda to look at Him, and when he did, the latter saw the golden-colored elephant-faced Lord, Ganapati as described in ancient texts. He was overwhelmed with joy and bliss for four days following this darshan, and forsook food, drink, and sleep.