Namaskar and Nationalism

Arlo Griffiths A.Griffiths at LET.LEIDENUNIV.NL
Wed May 7 07:37:55 UTC 2003

It's my impression that in large parts of Orissa, namaskaar (pronounced
rather in the Hindi way than expected [nOmOskaarO]) is nowadays quite
common: in view of the pronunciation perhaps indeed "nationalist" influence.
"Namaste" is hardly heard in Orissa, by the way.

In those ('tribal') parts of the present Jharkhand state that I have
visited, "Johar" seems to be the normal greeting, also in the context of
Hindi (or Sadani) conversations. A variant of this greeting (with
-h-deletion: [juaar]) is the standard greeting in those parts of 'tribal'
southern Orissa where I have travelled (viz. Koraput and Rayagada Dt.), no
matter whether the language spoken is Desia Oriya, Gutob, or --- I would
assume --- any other tribal language.  There is a brief note on this word by
Jules Bloch in the Dr. C. Kunhan Raja Presentation Volume (Madras 1946), p.
129f. [reprinted in Recueil d'Articles de Jules Bloch 1906--1955 (Textes
rassemblés par Colette Caillat, Paris 1985), p. 345f.]. Turner (CDIAL #5142)
calls Bloch's derivation from *jayakaara "extremely doubtful".
    Bloch refers to Crooke, "Things Indian" p. 294 where a rather different
usage of the term is mentioned (and a consequently different etymology is
proposed). In the context of Prof. Deshpande's reference to rural areas of
Maharashtra, it is interesting to mention here that Bloch also gives the
following quote: "Mais ouvrons le dictionnaire marathe de Molesworth sous
johaar: ``The word used by the Mahaar, Caambhaar etc., in saluting their
betters or each other 2. The word of obeisance used to a Raajaa by his
attendants, implying `O warrior'!".

Arlo Griffiths

> From: Madhav Deshpande <mmdesh at UMICH.EDU>
> Reply-To: Indology <INDOLOGY at>
> Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 23:53:15 -0400
> Subject: Re: Namaskar and Nationalism
> As I was growing up in Pune, it was my distinct impression that the term
> namaskar was used as a greeting term mostly by Brahmins to each other.  After
> my father retired, he built a house in the village of Dhayari near Pune, where
> our house was surrounded mostly by non-Brahmin folks.  Their normal form of
> greeting was to say "raam raam".  During my own visits to this village, it
> often happened that I would say namaskar to someone and he would respond
> saying raam raam to me.  It is my general impression that the term namaskar
> became the common term in urban areas of Maharashtra, while raam raam still
> remains the common term in rural areas.  Best,
> Madhav Deshpande
>> ----------
>> From:         Peter Friedlander
>> Reply To:     Indology
>> Sent:         Tuesday, May 6, 2003 10:23 PM
>> To:   INDOLOGY at
>> Subject:           Namaskar and Nationalism
>> Dear List Members,
>> I am doing some research on the development of Hindi greetings, and on the
>> use of Namaskar.
>> In particular I'm looking for references in early 20th century nationalist
>> literature to the use of Namaskar as a national greeting, as prior to this
>> it seems to have been a greeting only used by Brahmins, or to Brahmins by
>> twice-born castes.
>> has anybody ever seen anything on this?
>> Dr Peter G. Friedlander
>> Hindi Research Fellow
>> Asian Studies Department
>> La Trobe University, VIC 3086 Australia
>> Tel: 61 3 9755 3048
>> Fax: 61 3 9755 1880
>> Email: p.friedlander at
>> WWW:

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