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Dr K K Aggarwal

Spiritual prescriptions: Namaskar and Namaste

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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We are virtually nobodies, while the Cosmos is the Ultimate Being

While greeting any one in Hindu culture, one takes the name of GOD, the supreme Brahma. It reminds us that we are nothing, everything is GOD.

This traditional greeting of India has a deeper spiritual meaning. It signifies non–arrogance or negation of ego.

NAMASKAR is made of three words: NAMAH + OM + KAR

NAMAH means NOT ME. It is a negation of one’s identity and hence of one’s ego or arrogance. It signifies that I am nothing.

OM is the sound of life, the primordial sound of nature. In Vedic language, it signifies soul, the spirit or the GOD.

KAR means shape/form of or manifestation of.

OMKAR therefore signifies manifestation of OM, the UNIVERSE, the cosmos, BRAHMA, SHIVA or GOD. OMKAR is omnipresent and omnipotent.

NAMASKAR therefore indicates that I am nothing, while OMKAR is everything. It also denotes respect to the one you say Namaskar. That I am nothing and you are GOD. In Vedantic text we are taught to give respect to atithi (atithi devo bhava).

Try to get angry, when you bow to say namaskar. You cannot, because the body posture does not allow you to do so. For an angry posture you must have expansion of the chest wall and not the flexion of the chest wall.

Other schools of thought


NAM is the root form of NAMAH and has the same meaning as NAMAH – NOT ME. (I am nothing).

AS means “To Be” or “To Exist” … a word derived from Astitva which means existence.

KAR means doer or one who makes or creates. For example, KAR can be seen in the words Kalakar, Chitrakar, Karmkar, Charmkar. In the above words, the suffix kar leads to the meaning of one who creates work.

ASKAR therefore means the creator of all that exists, the GOD.

Namaskar therefore has the same meaning: I am nothing everything is the GOD.

Other meanings

  • Some people interpret NAMAH as “I Bow to”. Ultimately the deeper meaning remains the same. I bow to GOD. Here you are considering the other person as GOD, which is one of Mahavakyas from Chandogya Upanishad in Sam Veda, “Tat Tvam Asi” (you are that).
  • “I salute the Almighty within you.” The true Namaste gesture is accompanied by bowing the head and shoulders slightly. This is a gesture that lessens our sense of ego and self–centeredness, requiring some humility to do it well. Shaking hands can be quite an arrogant event.
  • It is a sign of respect and peace
  • I bow to the God in you; I love you and I respect you, as there is no one like you.”
  • The word ‘Namo’ can be split into ‘Na’ + ‘Mama’ – meaning ‘Not mine’.
  • In Ahirbudnya Samhita, Siva explains the meaning of Namah in three ways:
    • Stula Artha: Gross etymological derivation referring to the inherent nature of the Jeeva as Sesha. Bowing the body is acceptance of the greatness of the one bowed to; when done with the eight angas (limbs), it is ‘Sashtanga’ and is the perfect Namas.
    • Sukshma Artha: Subtle meaning as seen in ‘Nirukta’ when it refers to bowing in thought, word and deed with an understanding of the bowing to be a Sadhyopaya (means).
    • Para Artha: Supreme meaning derived from the Shastras thus: NA indicating the Upaya; MA indicating its importance and S indicating Bhagavan, the Siddhopaya (goal).


Namaste = NAMAH + TE
Namah means Not Me
Te means “they”.
The literal meaning of NAMASTE hence is “Not me, they”. The word they refer to “GOD”.

NAMASTE = that the doer of everything is not me but the Gods.

Other ways of greetings

  • Ram–Ram
  • Jai Shri Krishna
  • Hare Krishna
  • Jai Shri Ram
  • Jai Siya Ram
  • Sikhs say Sat Shri Akal, which means that Truth is the God and is timeless.
  • Sikhs also say Wahe Guruji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guruji Ki Fateh. This is a declaration that the ultimate victory will be of the Guru and his followers.
  • Muslims say Khuda Hafiz, which means Khuda is the Protector.
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Two Hindu principles that symbolize the outcome of freedom of thought were conceptualized some 4000 years back by unnamed rishis in Rig–Veda which say, “This world is one family” (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam) and that “The Universal Reality is the same, but different people can call it by different names” (Ekam Sat Viprah Bahuda Vadanti).

In these two statements made in ancient Hindu India, we see the seeds of globalization and freedom of thought.

This was defined in the Sanskrit verse in the Rig Veda: Ekam Sat Vipra Bahuda Vadanti (The Truth is One, but scholars call it by many names).

“Vasudaiva Kutumbakam” defines that you and me are not different from each other and we are the part of the same web of life. The same spirit is shared by you and me and we are just the two sides of the same coin. And hence, it adds on to say, how can there be any conflict between us?

The truth is one, but is perceived differently because different people are at different levels of evolution in spiritual terms. Everybody perceives it with their level of understanding and perception. For an uneducated village society, even an entry of intelligent person in the village will be perceived as of GOD.

Vedanta upholds the reality of this indivisible, immanent and transcendent truth called Spirit. Vedanta denotes one’s identity with the rest of humanity. According to it, there is no stranger in this world. Everyone is related to one another in the kinship of the Spirit. In Vedanta, there is no ‘I’ and ‘for me’, but is ‘ours’ and ‘for us’; and ultimately ‘His’ and ‘for Him’.

Vedanta upholds the reality of this indivisible, immanent and transcendent truth called Spirit. Vedanta denotes one’s identity with the rest of humanity. According to it, there is no stranger in this world. Everyone is related to one another in the kinship of the Spirit. In Vedanta, there is no ‘I’ and ‘for me’, but is ‘ours’ and ‘for us’; and ultimately ‘His’ and ‘for Him’.

If the Vedanta philosophy is rightly followed upon, it will obliterate all evils. It is the science of right living and it is not the sole monopoly of the Hindus. It is for all and it has no quarrel with any religion. It preaches universal principles and Vedanta is the only universal, and eternal religion. It is a great leveler and it unites all, giving room to all.

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Most people get frustrated when they do not get what they desire. The frustration can manifest as anger, jealousy or irritation, which can ultimately cause much more damage to the person. The law of nature is that you get what you deserve and not what you desire.

Each action has a karmic expression, which ultimately leads to a result, which can be desirable or undesirable. Each action, therefore, invariably ends into either a feeling of pleasure or pain. And the one which ends with pleasure creates more desire and attachment further leading to frustration.

What you are depends on your past karmic expression and what you will be in future will depend on your present karmic actions. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction which is the natural law of karma. According to Vedanta scriptures, every karmic debt has to be paid sooner or later.

Every result should be accepted as a gift of the nature or the gift of God. One should not get excited nor tainted with results. According to Bhagavad Gita, one should be attached to the actions but detached from its results. Once you have controlled your mind and won over the duality of pleasure and pain, you attain internal happiness and the realization of your true Self.

Every karmic expression should be accepted as a message from the God, the results of which may be evident later. Any bad experiences with your present karma need not necessarily mean that it is a result of your bad past karma or is a repayment of the past debt. It may also be taken as an experience to prevent occurrence of the same in future and also an opportunity to teach others through your own experience, so that they can prevent themselves from getting into such a bad experience. ‘The more you give, the more you get’ is another law of nature. If you want others to love you, you will also have to learn to love others.

The bad karmic actions done today can only give you a momentary pleasure, but in long run you will be a loser. One should be content with what one gets, both in terms of one’s profession as well as day-to-day life. Contentment is the key to self-happiness. However, this does not means that one should not have any desire and one should leave everything to destiny. With continuous effort and repeated attempts, one can change one’s destiny.

Fulfillment of desires should also obey the laws of nature. Substantial fulfillment of desires is a supernatural power. People, who are committed or self-realized, attain these powers happenings and experience substantial effortless fulfillment of any desire. But even if one achieves that, one should not get attached to it. Fulfillment of desires should be seen as any ordinary karmic action and one should learn to detach oneself from the result of such an action.

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Suno, Samjho, Jaano and Karo is the mantra for education and involves not only hearing but listening and understanding and converting understanding into wisdom by doing it practically.

One of the components of education is etiquettes or manners, which can be at every level of education. In older era, Rajkumars or princes were sent to Gurukuls for formal education including that of warriorship. They were also sent to Gharanas/Kothas to learn tehzeeb the Lucknawi way where they were taught how to talk to each other and respect others. Their language in typically Lucknawi style used to be ‘we’ oriented and not ‘I’ oriented. Today’s education is more oriented towards ‘I–ness’ or ego and not towards the soul or respect.

When we were students, we were taught that a senior is a senior and needs to be respected. Even today, when we meet our teachers, we take their blessings by touching their feet but today’s students believe in shaking hands or saying ‘hi’. There is more and more commercial touch in the teacher–student relationship of today.

Ego makes one rude and arrogant with a mentality full of Rajas and Tamas. Road rage, gang rapes, murders, violence, terrorism are all examples of not learning etiquettes at the right time.

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Prakriti, Vikriti and Sanskriti

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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Prakriti is defined as when a person lives for himself or when his actions are centered towards oneself. Sanskriti is when one lives for the sake of others and vikriti is nothing but distortion in one’s living.

Greed is one type of vikriti which can make a ‘nar’ a ‘narbhakshi’ and later ‘nar rakshas. On the other hand, if a person works towards sanskriti it can convert him or her ‘nar’ to ‘narottam’ and from ‘narottam’ to ‘Narain’.

The aim in life, therefore, should be to work not for oneself but for the welfare of the others. These people gradually start working for themselves often for the family, society, nation and universe respectively.

Lord Buddha also said that any action done should follow the rule that it is directed for the welfare of all. Gandhi also propagated Sarvodaya or dedicating one’s actions to the welfare of all.

The basic fundamental teaching of the Vedic science is also based on Sarvodaya. Sahdev in Mahabharat and Bharat in Ramayan also talked about the sarvodaya properties, which every human being has.

Dr Deepak Chopra in his book ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’ also writes that one should always ask his or her consciousness when meeting a person as to how one can help the other person.

Even a feeling of helping someone can make a difference.

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Rome was not built in a day

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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With ‘Abhyas’ or constant practice, one can conquer all the obstacles in life. The sutra “Rome was not built in a day” has a deep spiritual meaning. In the path for self–realization, regular practice is the principle behind all paths: Bhakti, Karma or the Gnana marg. Persistence is the key in any spiritual attainment.

Regular hard work can also change one’s past bad karmic actions. All karmas irrespective of their nature should be converted into good karmas. This can be better understood by the following example. While painting a red colored wall with green paint with the intention to make it green, it first gets converted into yellow color. But repeated painting with green will ultimately make it green.

The red color here can be compared to bad past karmas and green color to good present karmas. By doing positive activities time and again, one can dissolve the impressions of the bad actions done in the past. To start with, there may be a reaction from the others (which is equivalent to the yellow color in the above example) but if the person does not lose his confidence at that moment and continues with his good present karmas, he will ultimately end up in changing his bad past converting it into a good present and a better future. This requires continuous and repeated practice.

Self–realization and meditation are difficult processes. They involve attaining a thoughtless state, in other words, a state of experiencing the silence. All the paths for self realization are difficult, but with regular practice, one can achieve it without any problem. The path of Bhakti is often considered the path of choice for the majority of people as it is the easiest path to follow. The path of Bhakti involves a triad of “duty, devotion and discipline”. But any duty, devotion or discipline done only for a short time will not end in success, unless it is practiced over a longer period of time.

A classical example can be seen in Islam. Ramadan is a classical example of hard work leading to an atmosphere of brotherhood, love, compassion and truthfulness with significant reduction in negativity amongst the community. For one month, all the Muslims participate in a self-training program to reduce negativity and build positivity in their lives. During this month they are prohibited from indulging in sexual activities, entering into marriage ceremonies, and are encouraged to make endeavors towards self realization. The classical discipline to be maintained is fasting. Fasting here does not mean only fasting food or water alone. It also means controlling negative thinking, negative speech, and indulging in any negative action.

The Bhagavad Gita has described the five gateways to hell as attachment, desire, anger, greed and ego. Controlling them requires practice. A month of observance of controlling one’s five senses and not indulging in the five gateways of hell trains one enough to make these parameters a part of one’s life. The positive attitude practiced over one month tends to stitch it in one’s consciousness, and ultimately in a majority, becomes a part of one’s life.

There is a similar practice in Hindu religion during “Navratras”, but unfortunately, not all people observe this as dedicatedly as the Muslims.

Apart from the internal journey to self–realization, hard work plays a role even in day–to–day outer journeys be it married life, family life, social life or office life.

Hard work is the key to success, provided one controls the above five gateways to hell and practices the triad of non–expectation, detachment and being non–judgmental. Attaching oneself with actions but detaching from the results is the key to both internal as well as external success.

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I want to live after my death

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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In my workshops, whenever I ask delegates as to how long they want to live, the answer I get from most of them is 60, 70 or 80 years. While answering they forget that they are only talking about the death of the physical body but what about the mental, social, intellectual and spiritual bodies.

It is well known that the soul never dies and so follow your Sanskars and do good work. The aim of life should be that one should live even after the death of his or her physical body. It is your good Karmas, which keep your memories alive even after your physical death.
It is equally true that your bad Karmas too can make people remember you after death but that is not the purpose of life. We would like to be remembered as Rama and not like Ravana after death.

In Vedic language, your present is decided by your past and your future is decided by your present. To improve your future you need to work positively in your present.

When you start working positively in your present moment, you will start neutralizing your bad karmas. It is like washing a dirty shirt, which will not become stain free in one washing. Only with repeated washings can it become stain-free. Similarly washing away your bad karmas with good karmas will take time.

It is possible that even when one starts doing good Karmas, one may still suffer as the sum total of past karmas may not have been neutralized by that time.

For example, if a dacoit surrenders and wants to live a civilian life he may be pardoned to some extent but may still be jailed for some duration of time. In other word he may be pardoned from death sentence and given life sentence.

As per Bhagavad Gita, whatever your thoughts are at the time of death will decide the atmosphere you will get in your rebirth. It also says that whatever will be your thoughts throughout your life will be your thoughts at the time of your death.

So do not expect that you can acquire positive thoughts at the time of death if you have been thinking negative throughout your life. The gist is to start doing good actions in the present.


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Positive Attitudes

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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All those out there who feel you are at your wits end wondering how things don’t ever work out for you, can now relax and dwell on all those failures that life has taken you through and turn failure into success.

1. Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure. But it does mean you haven’t succeeded yet.

2. Failure doesn’t mean you have accomplished nothing. It does mean you have learned something.

3. Failure doesn’t mean you have been foolish. It does mean you had a lot of faith.

4. Failure doesn’t mean you’ve been discouraged. It does mean you were willing to try.

5. Failure doesn’t mean you don’t to do. It does mean you have to do it in a different way.

6. Failure doesn’t mean you are inferior. It does mean you are not perfect.

7. Failure doesn’t mean you have wasted your life. It does mean you have a reason to start afresh.

8. Failure doesn’t mean you should give up. It does mean you must try harder.

9. Failure doesn’t mean you’ll never make it. It does mean it will take a little longer.

10. Failure doesn’t mean God has abandoned you. It does mean God has a better idea.

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