In Hinduism, we do Namaskar to the God statues in the temples as a symbol of belief, respect, and worship. In addition, we also do Sashtang Namaskar.
What exactly is Sashtang Namaskar, and why must one do it?
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What is Sashtang namaskar or dandvat?
Sashtang namaskar or dandvat is a symbol of complete submission that reminds devotees to respect God.
Devotees perform sashtang dandvat pranam by lying fully prostrate on the floor with their arms stretched out towards the Idols.
Eight specific parts of the body should touch the floor:
Why we must do it?
All of our karmas are performed through mind, body, or speech, and every karma in life should be offered to God.
Ashtanga is "eight limbs". SAshtanga is "with eight limbs". So, prostration which is done by involving the eight particular limbs of body is called the ShAshtanga Namaskara.
Here is the formal definition from Viswa SAra Tantram :
PadbhyAm KarAbhyAm JAnubhyAmurasA SirasA DrisA VachasA ManasA Chaiva PranAmohashtAnga Iritaha |
A prostration which is done by employing the following eight limbs is called the Ashtanga pranam - Two feet, two hands, two knees, chest, head, two eyes, speech ( Vakya) and mind.
When performed the shastanga pranam will look something like this:
Similarly, there is a panchanga pranam which involves 5 limbs instead of 8.
BAhuBhyAnchaiva JAnubhyAm SirasA VachasA DrisA PanchAngohayam PranAmaha SyAt PujAsu Prvaravimau |
The prostration which is done by involving the following five limbs is called the panchanga pranam. Both these prostrations are prescribed during pujas- Two hands, two knees, head, speech and mind
When done the panchanga pranam will look something like this:
In such kind of prostrations we offer God all our senses along with the mind. So, they signify a total, all-round surrender to God.
The word 'Shaastaanga' can be split-ted as Sa + Ashta + Anga, which means the 8 parts of a body touches the floor.
The eight parts are,
This type of Namaskaar is performed in temples, to spiritual Guru and elders.
The special meaning for this type of Namaskaar is, it is like a log fall down without any support. By performing this Namaskaar, we signify the Lord that, "You are my only support. Without you I am nothing."