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Darśana (Darshan, Sanskrit: दर्शन) is a Sanskrit term meaning "sight" (in the sense of an instance of seeing or beholding; from a root dṛś "to see"), vision, apparition, or glimpse. It is most commonly used for "visions of the divine," e.g., of a god or a very holy person or artifact. One could "receive darshana" of the deity in the temple, or from a great saintly person, such as a great guru.

In the sense "to see with reverence and devotion," the term translates to hierophany, and could refer either to a vision of the divine or to being in the presence of a highly revered person. In this sense it may assume a meaning closer to audience. "By doing darshan properly a devotee develops affection for God, and God develops affection for that devotee."[1]

Darshan is ultimately difficult to define since it is an event in consciousness -- an interaction in presence between devotee and guru; or between devotee and image or sculpture, which focuses and calls out the consciousness of the devotee. In either event, a heightening of consciousness or spirituality is the intended effect.

The other common use of the term 'darshan' is its application to the six systems of thought, dealt with under 'Hindu philosophy'.

In Hinduism

In Indian culture, the touching of the feet (pranāma or charaṇa-sparśa) is a show of respect and it is often an integral part of darshan. Children touch the feet of their family elders while people of all ages will bend to touch the feet of a great guru, murti or icon of a Deva (God) (such as Rama and Krishna). [2]

There is a special link between worshiper and guru during pujas, in which people may touch the guru's feet in respect, or remove the dust from a guru's feet before touching their own head. In chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna is granted a vision of God (trans. Telang 1882),

Hari, the great lord of the possessors of mystic power, then showed to the son of Prithâ his supreme divine form, having many mouths and eyes, having (within it) many wonderful sights, having many celestial ornaments, having many celestial weapons held erect, wearing celestial flowers and vestments, having an anointment of celestial perfumes, full of every wonder, the infinite deity with faces in all directions. If in the heavens, the lustre of a thousand suns burst forth all at once, that would be like the lustre of that mighty one. There the son of Pându then observed in the body of the god of gods the whole universe (all) in one, and divided into numerous (divisions). Then Dhanañgaya filled with amazement, and with hair standing on end, bowed his head before the god, and spoke with joined hands.

[Arguna said:] O god! I see within your body the gods, as also all the groups of various beings; and the lord Brahman seated on (his) lotus seat, and all the sages and celestial snakes. I see you, who are of countless forms, possessed of many arms, stomachs, mouths, and eyes on all sides. And, O lord of the universe! O you of all forms! I do not see your end or middle or beginning. I see you bearing a coronet and a mace and a discus—a mass of glory, brilliant on all sides, difficult to look at, having on all sides the effulgence of a blazing fire or sun, and indefinable. You are indestructible, the supreme one to be known. You are the highest support of this universe. You are the inexhaustible protector of everlasting piety.

In Sikhism

Receiving darśan ("a sight of", a blessing) from the guru is seen as of utmost importance in Sikhism. [3]

See also


  1. Glossary of Sanskrit Terms in Integral Yoga Literature
  2. Glossary
  3. Takhar, Opinderjit Kaur (2005). Sikh Identity: An Exploration Of Groups Among Sikhs. Ashgate Publishing Ltd.. pp. 70. ISBN 0-754-65202-5. 


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