Namaste is pronounced "Namastay" with the first two "a's" as the first "a" in America. and the "ay" as in "stay". The "t" is pronounced softly with the area just behind the tip of the tongue pressing against the upper-front teeth with no air passing between. (Jai Maharaj)
In Sanskrit "Namas" means, "bow, obeisance, reverential salutation". It comes from the root Nam, which refers to bending, bowing, humbly submitting and becoming silent. "Te" means "to you." Thus "namaste" means "I bow to you." It is often contrasted with the handshake in the West. The handshake is an horizontal, external and physical act which can convey meanings of weakness, strength or dominance.
Namaste puts one's hands together vertically (like in a prayer) with a wordless bow conveying submission of one's spirit. The handshake is to touch someone's hand physically. Namaste is to reach in and touch the "true self" of one's self and the true self of the other. Someone wrote that it is to "see the Deity in us both". It is meant to keep us from becoming superficial and external in our friendships and helps us remain close to our true nature. Someone wrote that it means "I cannot separate that which is spiritual in us from that which is human and ordinary". My favorite definition is that Namaste means to pay homage to the inner light in you and me and in all living things.
- Les Blough, Editor