What is Sashtang Namaskar correct meaning

Namaste friends, how are you doing today? Bhagavan Sri Vishnu blessings to you and your family!

Sashtanga namaskaram is the best way of doing namaskaram to Bhagavan, Devatas, Rishis, Elders etc. This involves both physical and mental abilities.

First of all, let us know the correct meaning of the word ‘saashtaanga’:

saashtanga = sa + ashta = anga. Here, Sa means along with all, ashta means eight, anga means body parts,

Total meaning of this is, ‘doing something using all our 8 body parts’.

Now let us know the correct meaning of ‘namaskara’:

namaskaara = nama + as + kaara

Here nama = doing pranaam / salutations / obeisances, as = me, kaara = doing

Total meaning of this is, ‘I am doing nama to Bhagavan / Guru / Elderly people etc’

Thus, Saashtaanga Namaskaara means, ‘I am doing nama to Bhagavan / Guru / Elderly people etc using all my eight body parts’.

Those eight body parts are:

1. Two toes

2. Two knees

3. Two palms

4. The chest

5. The forehead

This means, touching the ground as a mark of bhakti / devotion, respect, salutations, obeisance and total surrender to the Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu.

It is the best sampradaya / traditions of Sanatana Dharma and Samskriti percolated down from elders that we follow even today in our daily lives while offering salutations, respect etc to Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu, other Devatas, Guru, elders etc.

It is also one of the type of ‘yogasana’ and forms a part of Surya Namaskaara.

Note: Women are restricted from performing ‘Saashtaanga namaskara’ as their vaksha sthala / chest part, abdomen and waist should not touch the ground. In women’s case it will be a ‘panchaanga namaskara’ (five body parts namaskara’).

‘Saashtaanga Namaskara’ should be performed with utmost bhakti / devotion, humility and not as a routine drill and without bhakthi / devotion.

It is a way of realizing ourselves.

It removes egoism.

Let us understand from a shloka on how a ‘saashtaanga namaskara’ should be made:

उरसा शिरसा दृष्ट्या मनसा वचसा तथा ।

पादाभ्यां कराभ्यां जानुभ्यां प्रणामोष्टाङ्गा ईरितः॥

ಉರಸಾ ಶಿರಸಾ ದೃಷ್ಟ್ಯಾ ಮನಸಾ ವಚಸಾ ತಥಾ ।

ಪಾದಾಭ್ಯಾಂ ಕರಾಭ್ಯಾಂ ಜಾನುಭ್ಯಾಂ ಪ್ರಣಾಮೋಷ್ಟಾಂಗ ಈರಿತಃ ।।

Urasa sirasa dhrushtya manasa vachasa tathaa | 

Paadaabhyaam karaabhyaam jaanubhyaam pranaamoshtaanga eeritah || 

Meaning of the above shloka:

In the above given shloka from Sri KrishnamruthaMaharnava (written by Sri Madhvacharya Ji) it describes how a proper ‘saashtanga namaskaara’ is to be performed in front of Bhagavan Sri Vishnu, other Devatas, Guru, Elders etc.

Here it should be note that while performing the ‘saashtanga namaskaara’, five body parts, that is, chest, head, feet, hands and knees touching the ground and our three sense organs, that is, mind, eyes and tongue (speech) are all focused on the Bhagavan Sri Vishnu.

रेणुकुंठितगात्रस्य कणा यावंती भारत | 

तावद्वरष सहस्राणि विष्णुलोके महीयते ||

ರೇಣುಕುಂಠಿತಗಾತ್ರಸ್ಯ ಕಣಾ ಯಾವಂತಿ ಭಾರತ ।

ತಾವದ್ವರ್ಷ ಸಹಸ್ರಾಣಿ ವಿಷ್ಣುಲೋಕೇ ಮಹೀಯತೇ ।। 

renu kunTitagAtrasya kaNA yAvanti BhArata |

tAvadvarsha sahasrANi vishNulOkE mahEyatE ||

Meaning of the above shloka:

In ‘Sri KrishnamruthaMaharnava’ Sri Madhvacharya Ji says that: 

“when we do ‘saashtaanga namaskaara’ in front of Bhagavan (for example in temples), our body touches the dust of the floor of the feet of ‘Sri Hari Bhaktas / devotees’ who have worshiped Bhagavan in that temple.

And thus one will live for so many thousands of years in ‘Vishnuloka’ equivalent to the amount of dust particles that our body is blessed with”.

Sanatana Dharma is amazing right!

The shastra / script, that is, ‘Sri KrishnamruthaMaharnava’ further says in shloka #93; 

शाठ्येनापि नमस्कारं कुर्वतः शारग्नापाणए | 

शतजन्मार्जितं पापं नश्यत्येव न संशयः ||

ಶಾಠ್ಯೇನಾಪಿ ನಮಸ್ಕಾರಂ ಕುರ್ವತಃ ಶಾರ್ಜ್ಗಾಪಾಣಯೇ ।

ಶತಜನ್ಮಾರ್ಜಿತಂ ಪಾಪಂ ನಶ್ಯತ್ಯೇವ ನ ಸಂಶಯಃ ।। 

shAThyEnApi namaskAram kurvatah ShArgnApANayE |

shatajanmArjitam pApam nashyatEva na samshayah ||

The meaning of this shloka is:

Even though if one salutes Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu, that is, (he is the holder of the ‘Sharnga’ bow – dhanurdhaari) out of pride and ego,

The sins accumulated in hundred births will be eliminated, it will happen definitely and there is no doubt about it.

When such is the case of the merits and uses of doing ‘saashtanga namaskaara’, one should definitely try to understand the greatness and significance of the great ‘saashtaanga namaskaara’ and should do it with utmost bhakti / devotion, humility in a namaskaara position / meditative mood with focus on Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu, other Devatas, Gurus, elders etc and not just as a routine.

One should that, ‘saashtaanga namaskaara’ should be done on regular basis (everyday), to get more and right fruits out of it. 

But we should also note that, one should do with bhakthi / devotion and with expectation from Bhagavan.

We should do it in ‘nishkaama’ (without any expectations) and with ‘kaama’ (expectations).

It is a symbol of total saranaagati / surrender at the lotus feet of Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu.

By doing ‘saashtaanga namaskaara’, we can also destroy our ego very easily. But this cannot be accomplished easily. It requires a long time bhakti / devotion towards Bhagavan Vishnu.

Why Don’t Women do the ‘sashtanga namaskaara’?

Women should do the ‘panchanga namaskaara’ (five body parts namaskara).

Women shouldn’t do the ‘sashtanga namaskara’ as woman’s body parts like chest, abdomen will touch the ground.

But as per the ‘Sanatana Dharma’ shastra, a woman’s chest and abdomen shouldn’t touch the earth. This is because, woman feeds her baby with her milk and safeguards the baby in her womb for 9 months.

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Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

Om Namo Narayanaya

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