Every society or culture has a tradition of exchanging greetings of some type, whenever any of its person communicates directly or indirectly with another person or a group of people, through any channel. But we seem to be so accustomed to this tradition of greetings that most of the time we can notice that the concerned people are unaware of the weightage and meaning of the content, wordings and the posture employed in this process. The traditions established in any cultural society are understood to be done so, usually after being practiced for a long stretch of time, for some larger beneficial interest of the society. Nevertheless, we can even find some traditions which are harmful to society. Such ones can be attributed to the autocratic enforcements by some power centers in the times past. Such unsocial traditions and practices are sometimes seen to aggravate and antagonize some members of society against all traditions of that society. The slave practices, Sati system (living wife to be burnt along with the dead body of her husband), dowry, excommunication during menstrual days, caste system, majority ruling, donations, alms, gifts and other valuables to be set aside forcefully for the religious and social establishments, are examples of some of such antisocial practices we know of. An evident present day example of such antisocial practice coerced upon the public by misusing the state authority vested on the elected politicians is to make the poor masses of general public pay lavish allowances and facilities to these very rich members of legislative assemblies and parliament. This is nothing but a systemic corruption of a wealthy minority authorizing themselves to snatch away whatever little the poor majority (their own voters) has earned through their hard work. They have cunningly authorized themselves to make rules to raise their own remunerations and to raise coercive taxes and fees of umpteen varieties, in order to meet their unjustifiably lavish lifestyle expenses.
Here we are musing about the greetings and their underlying meanings. It is not that I am sharing this thought as an expert on this subject. But this is an attempt to highlight the anomalies and absurdities we plentifully see around us in our social practices of exchanging greetings. It may carry various meanings for different people but in most of the observations the very truth of the word and expression content is evidently lacking. This is presented with an intention that those who are interested to exercise their thought on this, may find it helpful to exercise this social tradition of greeting truthfully and meaningfully, without having to indulge in lies every time a greeting is pronounced.
In our childhood our parents and seniors instructed and taught us the greeting process as to whom, when, how, in what manner we should practice it. Those days, as we had no capacity to understand the purpose and meaning of such greetings, it was enough if we agreed to their teaching either with interest or just by compulsion. But now, even after we have the capacity to understand the purpose and meaning attached to it and still do not care to practice it in its truthfulness, then it amounts to our sheer carelessness and blunt insult to the person or group we are addressing. Because when the manifestation of the words and their expressive style are carried out without meditating or even realizing the deep meaning attached to it, then such act merely performs a drama play or a hypocrisy, nothing more. This is expressed only on the outside as a ritual without the involvement of a thoughtful mind inside. Does this act not amount to telling a lie?
All the words and their accompanying actions of greetings I have witnessed so far, have the underlying meaning of expressing happiness, joy, peace, good wishes, blessing, respect, regard, praise, warmness, etc. on being able to meet the person(s) in front. Similarly, we also see the praising and hailing of God, nation, society or specific person of high office are also seen in some greetings. But is the presentation of the greeting to the person in front done with meaning and truthfulness? If yes, then excellent. But if no, then are we not liars and hypocrites? This attitudinal status cannot be ascertained by others, it needs to be an act of self-examination, because it is related to the inner thoughts of each person which none else but only the concerned person has an access to. For example, if due to some derogatory report I have heard against someone or due to some sour incident taken place between that person and me, I have no regard for him or I have not been able to forgive him in my thoughts, then how can the expression of greeting words and action towards him be really considered to be coming out of my truthful mind? How can my mere pronouncement of Namaste, Namaskaar, Jaya Shambho, Lasakush, Salaam Aalekum, Jaya Masih, Good Morning/Evening/Night, and such like and accompanying these words with folded hands, head bowed down, embracing, holding hands, kissing, touching feet, waving hands in elated posture and conveying similar other expressions of respect and joy be considered to be truthfully coming out of my inner self? By these words and postures I am telling the person in front of me that I bow down very humbly with folded hands to the revered spirit of God residing in your person, I bow down to respect the very high tradition of yours, let this meeting glorify the God we both believe in, you are highly welcome, Let you always remain in peace, Let this time be good and fruitful to you. But am I not deceiving my inner self by making such expressions as above, to the person in front of me, to whom, even if I will to, am not able to give truthful respect and regard from within me?
Many a times we all have said Let Truth Prevail. But have we really desired from our inner being to see the truth and only truth to win over everything else? If such desire for truth has taken residence in our heart and mind, that itself should be considered highly positive towards the right direction. But it is only a good beginning. The noble utterance will be fruitful only if there is some committed action to reach towards the desired situation of the truth prevailing all around us.
Therefore, let us think, what are we speaking and doing while expressing our greetings. In doing so, are we making a truthful expression of ourselves to the person or group in front of us or are we merely acting, thereby deceiving ourselves first and then the others around us?
(English version of the original Nepalese language post सात्विक अभिवादन)