What is Meant by Good Karma and Namaste?

I used to do business with an India-based company whose employees ended every phone call by saying “Good Karma.” This perplexed me. How should I respond?

Was their ritual sendoff a theological reflection or merely their culture’s accepted way to say goodbye? I considered replying with “God bless” or some such response, but I usually just said “Goodbye,” if I said anything at all.

While karma is a common aspect of many Eastern religions, it’s not absent from my biblically based perspective, either. Jesus said, “Give and it will be given” and “with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Later Paul wrote, “A man reaps what he sows.” Don’t these passages imply karma, albeit within a biblical worldview?

I’d forgotten about this until recently, as I listened to a series of lectures online. The speaker ended each one, saying “Namaste,” a common Hindu valediction with diverse meanings. The bigger question is what did she mean? Was she implying she was Hindu? Or was she offering a cosmopolitan flare to a possibly diverse audience? Perhaps it was an effort to be cute or countercultural or unexpected. Each time, I envisioned her making a slight bow as she pressed her palms together with elbows extended.

Had we met in person, how should I react? I could respond in kind, repeating her word and duplicating her gesture. Or perhaps, I would nod and say “Goodbye,” giving her my cultural response.

In both of these situations, I desire to communicate respect without implying theological agreement.

What would you do?

2 thoughts on “What is Meant by Good Karma and Namaste?”

  1. respect…. I believe we are able to respect the person and their beliefs by treating them how we ourselves wish to be treated…which, after all is what we are called by God to do- he didn’t say if we agree. just do it. Some look at this as compromise …I see it as love, respect and an example of Jesus with skin on.

    1. Respect is key, but What does that look like in practical terms?

      How would you recommend I respond when someone says “Good Karma” or “Namaste” to me?

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