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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Within the Hindu world, one of the most ubiquitous devotional activities is that of darshan. The term literally means gaining a glimpse of the divine. It refers to seeing in both the active sense of making an effort to view something considered sacred or divine and the passive sense of receiving into one’s view the divine as presented. In the former sense, darshan can be understood as meritorious viewing; as such, engaging in darshan is advocated both as a duty of devotees and an act bringing great benefit through which the guru or a divinity shows grace.

Those of the Hindu faith will go out of their way to spend time in the presence of their teacher (guru) and/or travel great distances to see a particular holy person. The mere act of glimpsing the divine (which may be visibly presented in a person, a statue, or a sacred symbolic object, or invisibly as a vision of a supernatural being) is thought to convey the power, blessing, or merit of the object seen, quite apart from any verbal communication. Going to the large festivals held across India, where many holy people not otherwise accessible may be seen, provides the opportunity for darshan in a variety of situations.

The idea of darshan has passed to Sikhism, where the focus is upon the Adi Granth, the Sikh holy book that is seen as replacing gurus, and to Jainism, where images of the 24 ancient teacher/exemplars (the Tirthankaras) are the object of darshan.


Davis, Roy Eugene. Darshan: The Vision of Light. Lakemont, GA: CSA Press, 1971.
Malhotra, Sharan. Divine Darshan. Columbia, MO: South Asia Books, 1994.
Meher, Baba. Darshan Hours. Berkeley, CA: The Beguine Library, 1973.