Definition - What does Darshan mean?

Darshan is derived from the Sanskrit darsana, meaning "sight," "vision" or "appearance." In Hinduism, darshan is the act of beholding a deity, divine person, sacred object or natural spectacle, especially in a physical image form.

Secondarily, the term, or more precisely, darshana, also refers to the six Hindu philosophical systems: Samkhya, Yoga, Nvaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa and Vedanta. Even the non-Hindu philosophies of Buddhism and Jainism are considered darshans.

Yoga is one of the darshans and it is based on an age-long meditative tradition codified in the work of Patanjali, known as the Yoga Sutras. Just as one can see one's self in the mirror, one can see the true Self through yoga and yoga sutras.

Yogapedia explains Darshan

For a member of a Hindu faith, darshan is a form of ceremonial worship. Unlike the process of praying, chanting mantras or performing sacred rituals, one performing darshan is expected to do nothing more than look at the image of a god, sacred person or divine being. That act of looking is enough to bring spiritual fulfillment.

Darshan can happen in front of a home altar with a picture of the deity, in a temple or sacred place, or in a vision during meditation. It is believed that the sight is reciprocal: the person who receives darshan is also seen by the deity. This belief deepens the experience of darshan even more.

One has to be prepared for darshan. The hands and feet have to be clean, with the clothes washed and pressed carefully in order to show respect for the deity.

Yoga darshan, or yoga-darsana, is largely based on samkhya-darsana; samkhya meaning “that which explains the whole." The key difference is that yoga assumes the existence of God, who is the model for the one seeking spiritual release. Yoga darshan is concerned primarily with the acquisition and perpetuation of two states of mind: the state of the onepointed mind (ekagrata) and the state of inhibited mental functions (nirhudda).

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