Namaskaram literally means a salute; traditionally it is practiced from the childhood days, to train the children to respect the elders and also to pay obeisance to the Lord God in temples. It is a gesture of action used to indicate respect & reverence.
One most important point to be noted.. One should not do namaskarams to any person in Deva Sannidhanam - this is a very big sin. But if One's Guru is standing in the sannidhanam, and the person is doing namaskaram to God its double sin.
Whenever one gets an opportunity one has to do namaskarams to his Guru... its indeed a very great punya. And whenever one's Guru is there(in a sabha- group of people), one must not do namaskarams to anyone else other than his Guru... Even if Guru and Parama Guru(Guru's Guru) is there, one has to do namaskaram only to his Guru.. Only if he permits or asks, he can do namaskarams to others.. or else it is a very great sin
In the case of doing Namaskarams to others - One cannot Just like that do namaskarams to everyone... One must have the capacity to accept the namaskaram.
By doing Namaskarams to a person, he actually transfers a part of his sin to the person who accepts the namaskaram. A part of the punyam gets transfered from the person accepting it to the person doing the namaskaram.
If one is doing namaskaram to a person who is not fit to the position, one must be ready to partake his sins....
Generally one should not do namaskarams to the persons who is younger than him - But this rule does not apply if the person is doing namaskarams to his Guru or a Sanyasi. A Guru may be much much younger than the Sishya - But his position(as a Guru) is the important factor here..
Those with Guru padhuka Deeksha generally dont do namaskarams to anyone other than Guru and Devata.
Yesterday during our Satsang - we were discussing about chanting and not chanting "Abhivadhaye..." during the time of Namaskaram
ie after doing namaskAram, he must keep the palms over ears, and then announce his Rishi lineage, gotram , sUtram (family lineage), family Veda, and sharman (name), and then touching the feet of the elders they prostrated to.
While doing AbhivAdanam an important point to be kept in mind is - that abhivadanam should be done only to a person who can say pratyabhivadanam (ie blessing words in return)
In general it is a compulsory practice that all those who are adorned with upanayanam (who wear the sacred thread), when he does namaskaram must tell abhivaadhanam..
This is the general rule.
But there are few exceptions to be noted....
devAn nadIn sabhAM vRukShAn agnikAryaM tathA yatim |
daNDavat praNamet bhUmau na abhivAdana mAchret ||
When one is doing namaskAram for
• before devatas
• to a sabhaa (group of people),
• to the trees such as peepul or palAsam,
• before the agni
• before the sannyaasis
During all these occasions one should not chant the Abhivaadanam...
While doing namaskaarams at temples or puja gruham (at home)... Abhivaadanam should not be chanted... Also there is no abhivaadhanam while doing namaskaarams to ladies (only for one's own mother he can do abhivaadhanam)
Abhivaadanam should be done only on a one to one basis and you cannot do that to a group or to a single person in a group
But AbhivAdanam during performance of Karmas like Sandhya vandanam is allowed.