Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Asian Buddhist Tradition of hospitality

Storia e tradizione dell’ospitalità
presso la sede del Museo Archeologi
Nazionale delle Marche in Ancona, palazzo Ferretti,
Giugno 15, 2006

Asian Buddhist Tradition of hospitality

Geshe Gedun Tharchin

Origin of Asian Buddhist greetings

Buddhist greetings truced to Sanskrit namah te, a Asian greeting originating in India, namah means "bow, obeisance, reverential salutation, adoration". te is the dative of the personal pronoun tvam, "you". A literal translation of namah te is thus "reverential salutation to you". It is commonly accompanied by a slight bow made with the hands pressed together, palms touching, in front of the chest.

In indian religious context this word can be taken to mean any of these:

The Spirit in me meets the same Spirit in you
I greet that place where you and I are one.
I salute the divine in you
I salute the Light of God in you.
I bow to the divine in you.

It is saying that I recognize that within each of us is a place where divinity dwells, and when we are in that place, we are One. In other words, it recognizes the equality of all, and pays honor to the sacredness and interconnection of all, as well as to the source of that interconnection.

Namaste is a Hindi word, and hence has widespread use in North India where Hindi and its dialects are the languages spoken. Gassho is the term used in Japanese contexts for the hand-gesture, and for the wider bowing, as a whole. In Thailand, the gesture is known as wai (pronounced "why" with a rising tone). In some parts of India (for example, Punjapi-speaking areas), Namaste is used only to greet Hindus. The proper greeting for Muslims and Sikhs being Assalamu Alaikum and Sat Sri Akaal respectively.

Namaste or Namaskar is the term for such greetings also used as a greeting itself. "Namaste" is widely used than that in South Asia, particularly in greeting elders. Moreover, it is used throughout Asia, especially in the context of Buddhism or Buddhist cultures, even though it is known by different names in some languages.

Gesture and symbolism

The gesture used when bowing in Namaste is the bringing of both hands together, palms touching, in front of the person -- usually at the chest, or a higher level such as below the chin, below the nose, or above the head. This gesture is a mudra; a well-recognised symbolic hand position in eastern religions. One hand represents the higher, spiritual nature, while the other represents the worldly self. By combining the two, the person making the gesture is attempting to rise above his differences with others, and connect himself to the person he bows to. The bow is a symbolic bow of love and respect.

In other words, as long as we can fully recognise the goodness of others, and can focus ourselves fully in paying homage to that, without any thoughts of self-interest or ulterior motives, but to pay our respects wholeheartedly, we are very close to the enlightened state of mind, which is the focus of Buddhist practice.

Tibetan greeting

In Tibet namaste became Tashi Delek or Ta Shi De Le. Tashi Delek has same significant and meaning of Namah te , but today it become also the common, everyday, Tibetan greeting. Tashi means auspicious and Delek (also transliterated, deleg) means fine or well. The phrase means something like, "May everything be well" or "auspicious greetings." It is also used as a synonym for the word "greetings."

Tashi Delek greeting has been symbolised by Katag (traditional silk scarf) in Tibetan tradition. But in India still such tradition has been used but not with Tibetan traditional katags, rather offering with real white shoals.

No Tibetan custom is as well known as the offering of a katag or white scarf in greeting. The kata is an auspicious symbol. It lends a positive note to the start of any enterprise or relationship and indicates the good intentions of the person offering it. Katas are offered to religious images, such as statues of the Buddha, and to lamas and government officials.

Buddhist eight symbols of auspicious

In Buddhist tradition there are eight symbols of auspicious. Those symbols used for honouring people with offering to them or with decorating either on the flour or on the wall or painting on gate in their honour.

1. The Protection Parasol
The precious parasol symbolizes the wholesome activity of preserving beings from illness, harmful forces, obstacles and so forth in this life.

2. The Golden Fish
The fish represent the emancipation of one's consciousness from all suffering and thereby leading to eventual spiritual liberation.

3. The Great Treasure Vase
The treasure vase symbolizes a long life, wealth and prosperity.

4. The White Lotus
The lotus symbolizes purity of the body, speech and mind and the blossoming of wholesome deeds in blissful liberation

5. The Right-Turning Conch
The conch symbolizes the spread of the teachings of the Dharma and an awakening from the slumber of ignorance.

6. The Endless Knot
An auspicious geometric diagram, it symbolizes the unity of wisdom, great compassion and the illusory character of time.

7. The Banner of Victory
The banner stands for the complete victory of the Buddhist doctrine over death, ignorance and all the negativities of this world.

8. The Wheel of Dharma
Representing the Dharma and Shakyamuni himself, the wheel symbolizes the turning of the wheel of Buddha's doctrine both in teachings and realizations enabling us to experience the joy of wholesome deeds and liberation.

Buddhist Eight offerings of hospitality

There are also Buddhist arts of arranging eight offerings for receiving the guests, which driven from ancient Indian tradition. Today this costume has been kept in religious rituals for making pujas in Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Those eight symbols are as follow;

1. Water offering to cleanse the mouth.
2. Offering clear water mixed with incense or sandalwood water to wash the feet.
3. Offering flowers.
4. Offering is incense.
5. Offering Light or a lamp.
6. Offering of perfume or the fragrance from saffron or sandalwood.
7. Offering of delicious food which has a lot of different tastes.
8. Offering of music.