Language is a beautiful thing often with a whole new language hidden in between the lines of the paper they are written on. Many words are derived from multiple words combined to verbally represent a new idea, with some holding what is thought to be symbolic and powerful tones and sounds to express the idea/s they represent.
It is interesting to see that we have many different ways globally and cross-culturally to represent ideas such as peace, love, and harmony, often the ideas very similar in nature but also with subtle differences. I wanted to explore some of those sounds/words and the subtle differences between them.
I will start with one that many of us will be familiar with Namaste a Hindu greeting Namaḥ means ‘bow’, and te means ‘to you’ Therefore, Namaste literally means “bowing to you”
Namaste is usually said with your hands pressed together palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, while performing a slight bow.
Similar to the handshake in the west, Namaste is usually a respectful form of greeting, used as acknowledgement of a friend, relative, guest or stranger. It is also used to say your goodbyes.
Namaste has been popularised and become quite a common saying among certain groups in the western world due to the rise of ancient practices such as different forms of yoga and meditation.
Harambee is used in Kenyan tradition to promote community and selfless giving, such as fundraising. Harambee is derived from Swahili and literally means “all pull together”
Harambee has become the official motto of Kenya and Harambee events can range from informal affairs lasting a few hours, to multiple day events which have become a pillar of community events in parts of Eastern Africa.
There is a story circulating about Ubuntu in which an anthropologist proposed a game to a group of African tribe children. He placed a basket of fruit near a tree and told them that whoever got there first won the fruits. When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, and then sat together enjoying their treats in solidarity. When he asked them why they had run like that they said: “Ubuntu, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”
Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu term which translates to “human kindness” It’s an idea from the Southern African region which literally means “human-ness”, and has often been translated as “humanity towards others.” The term has also often been used in more of a philosophical nature, meaning- there is a universal bond of sharing that unifies all of humanity”.
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is a Sanskrit phrase which is found in Hindu texts including the Maha Upanishad, which translates as “the world is one family”.
The phrase Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam consists of several words: “vasudhā”, meaning “the earth” “ēva” meaning “indeed is” and “kutumbakam” meaning “family”.
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam represents holistic development, the respect for all forms of life and nonviolent conflict resolution.
Ren is the Confucian virtue denoting the good feelings you experience as a result of being altruistic. Ren is derived from 2 Chinese hanzi symbols, 人 (meaning person) and 二 ( meaning two) translating to “how two people should treat one another”
Yan Hui, one of Confucius’s most prominent students, asked his master (Confucius) to describe the rules of Ren. Confucius replied, “One should see nothing improper, hear nothing improper, say nothing improper, do nothing improper.”
Confucius also defined ren in the following way: “wishing to be established himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others.” Confucius also said, “Ren is not far off; he who seeks it has already found it.” Ren is close to man and never leaves him.
So I would just like to say Namaste, Harambee, Ubuntu, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and Ren to you all! And remind you that no matter where we are in the world that fundamentally human beings want the same thing- to be happy and for others to be be happy! Much love to you and if you have any words phrases or just a comment about the article, feel free to share it in the comments section below! Please share this article too!