The Concealed Power of Namarta (Humility)


By Krishan Gupta

“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace.”
– Saint Mother Teresa

The term “humility” comes from the Latin word humilitas, a noun related to the adjective humilis, which may be translated as “humble” because the concept of humility addresses intrinsic self-worth, relationships and socialization as well as perspective. In Sanskrit, the virtue of humility is called “namarta” which means modest and humble behavior. It is emphasized in religious practice, moral teaching and ethical study where the notion is often made more precise.

In a religious context, humility can mean recognition of self in relation to God or deities, acceptance of one’s defects, and submission to divine grace as a member of a religion. Outside of a religious context, humility is defined as self-restraint from excessive vanity, and can possess moral and/or ethical dimensions. Humility offers its owner complete freedom from the desire to impress, be right, or get ahead.


Humility is simple and comes straight from the heart and results in contentment, patience, forgiveness, and compassion. It offers significant control over attitude, outlook, actions, quality of strength and the first step to liberation. Politeness is just a social etiquette but humility is a quality of divine nature. When we are humble, we never get puffed up by a false sense of superiority and also never get depressed with a false sense of inferiority. By adopting and acquiring humility, we can obtain an egoless state.

Do not get involved with the idiosyncrasies and demands of the uncontrolled mind. We should start our day with a prayer to God who has given us our breath of Life and created this universe for us. It is really important to practice humility to develop into a better leader and a better person. Pride makes us artificial whereas humility makes us real. “Thank you” is the best prayer and expresses extreme gratitude, humility, and understanding. The greatest friend of Truth is Time, its greatest enemy is prejudice, but its constant companion is humility. Real genius is nothing else but the supernatural virtue of humility in the domain of thought. Humility is really necessary because it keeps you fresh and new.

Humility is a central aspect of Sikhism’s preaching as “Namarta”. Guru Nanak established the system of the langar in order to demonstrate the need to share and have equality between all people. Sikhs extend this belief in equality, and thus humility, towards all faith: “all religious traditions are equally valid and capable of enlightening their followers”.

According to Guru Nanak the supreme purpose of human life is to reconnect with Akal (The Timeless One). He inspired people to earn an honest living without exploitation and also the need for remembrance of the divine name (God). He described living an “active, creative, and practical life” of “truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity” as being higher than a purely contemplative life.

My concept of humility is what you have when you give up certain self-aggrandizing thought patterns, reflexes, and behaviors. It involves an experience of growth in which you no longer need to put yourself above others, but you don’t put yourself below them, either. You’re just as valuable as every other human being on the planet, no more and no less. Humility is one of the foundations of devotional life: “Upon the altar of humility we must offer our prayers to God.”

The power of humility is to overcome hostility as true humility is strength, not weakness. It disarms antagonism and ultimately conquers it. One of the most difficult things to learn about the importance of being humble when serving others is to render service without bossing, without making a fuss about it and without any consciousness of high and low.