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Salutations Or Respecting Teachers By Students In Hinduism

When a student bows before his teacher, seeking blessings from him, he is said to offer abhivadana in Hinduism. The traditional practice is dealt with in great detail in Manusmriti, the most ancient and the most important of Dharmashastras.

The student, on seeing the teacher, is expected to show due respect as detailed in such ancient works. When honored in the manner, the teacher, for his part, is expected to respond by blessing the student. The blessing of the teacher is known as pratyabhivadanam, that is, response.

The student, if he is seated, should first rise from his seat and offer his salutations. The form of salutation begins with the student reciting his ancestry – gotra (community sub-group according to the family sage), family tree and pravara (line of ancestors), the particular Vedic school to which he belongs, other related details and his name.

In one abhivadanam recorded in Manusmriti II.120 – 121, the person, Venkata Sharma, states that he is of the family tree (gotra Kaushika), is related to the three generations of Vishwamitra, Aghamarshana and Kaushika, is an adherent of the Krishna branch of doctrine and offers his greetings.

The pratyabhivadanam (blessing) of the teacher in this passage is repeated three times “Venkata Sharma, may you have long life.”

Ancient writings (Manusmriti II.120) record that on the arrival of the teacher, the vital breaths of the student mounts upwards, and by rising and saluting in the proper manner, the student recovers them.

Similarly, Manusmriti (II.121) mentions that following the custom of rising from the seat and saluting the teacher, the younger person obtains an increase of four things; length of life, knowledge, fame and strength, both mental and physical.