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A young man displays pranama to an elderly.

Pranama (Pranāma, प्रणाम) is a form of "respectful salutation" or "reverential bowing" before something, or another person - usually grandparents, parents, elders or teachers or someone deeply respected such as a deity. It is found in Indian culture.[1]


Pranama is derived from Pra (Sanskrit: प्र) and Anama (Sanskrit: आनम); pra as prefix means "forward, in front, before, very, or very much", while Anama means "bending or stretching".[2] Combined pranama means "bending, bowing in front" or "bending much". In cultural terms, it means "respectful salutation" or "reverential bowing" before another, usually elders or teachers or someone deeply respected such as a deity.

Types of Pranāma[edit]

Narendra Modi, expressing Pranama on the steps leading to the parliament, on the first day after taking oath as the prime minister of India.

There are six types of Pranam:[3]

  • Ashtangana (touching the ground with knees, belly, chest, hands, elbows, chin, nose, temple).
  • Shastanga (touching the ground with toes, knees, hands, chin, nose).
  • Panchanga (touching the ground with knees, chest, chin, temple, forehead).
  • Dandavata (bowing forehead down and touching the ground).
  • Namaskar (folded hands touching the forehead).
  • Abhinandan (bending forward with folded hands touching the chest).

Related forms of salutations[edit]

A form of pranama is charaṇa-sparśa, a bowing combined with the touching of the feet, as a mark of respect. It may be seen in temples during darshan.

Namaste is another, more common form of salutation and greeting expressed between people.[3][4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pranama Himalayan Academy, pp. 481
  2. ^ Apte Dictionary, See: pra, aanama
  3. ^ a b Chatterjee, Gautam (2001), Sacred Hindu Symbols, Google books, pp. 47–48 .
  4. ^ Bhatia, S., & Ram, A. (2009). Theorizing identity in transnational and diaspora cultures: A critical approach to acculturation. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 33(2), pp 140-149

External links[edit]