Archive for Thursday, August 18, 2005

Beautiful word

August 18, 2005


To the editor:

Apologies and thanks to Surendra Bhana who provided a correction for the meaning of the word "namaste" as I used it in a caption with a photo in the Aug. 8 edition of the Journal-World. I know it's full and literal meaning and had no intention of misrepresenting it; the world would be a better place if we all used this beautiful word with intuitive understanding of its full meaning and behaved accordingly.

I captioned the photo as I did to give a flavor of its broad everyday usage that I encountered while in India. Many people used the word in many different interactions with me. And, certainly, its literal meaning - the divine in me greets the divine in you - would always fit.

Perhaps it was just my Americocentrism unconsciously at work, but in these everyday interactions I took namaste to mean, in practical terms, "thank you," "bless you," "hello," "goodbye" (with a flavor of "go well"), etc., depending on the circumstance in which it was used. The photo with the caption is a good example. I took it as I was waving and saying goodbye to the boy and his mother. Putting his hands together and nodding his head, the boy said "namaste" as I departed.

Larry K. Irvin,



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