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1 (‘looking at’, ‘viewing’) Derived from the Sanskrit root ‘dṛś’ (‘to see’, ‘to look at’), darśana, in the form of the meeting of the devotee's and the (iconic) deity's eyes, is both an act of worship in itself and central to any extended form of pūjā. The principle is expanded to cover the auspicious sight of any sacred place (especially tīrthas—pilgrimage sites—and their associated deities), or person (i.e. particular holy men or sādhus). This is not passive gazing, but an active exchange through which the devotee receives the deity's or sādhu's blessing. For this reason, people go to the temple ‘for darśan’; there, the deity presents itself to be seen, ‘giving’ darśan, while the devotees ‘take’ or ‘receive’ it.

2 (‘point of view’, ‘perspective’) A term used to designate a‘school of philosophy’. In modern works, there are said to be six such, purportedly complementary, Hindu, or ‘orthodox’ (āstika) systems, grouped into pairs: Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika, Sāṃkhya and Yoga, Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta. This distinguishes them from the ‘heterodox’ (nāstika) systems of the Cārvākas, Jainas, and Buddhists. The term ‘darśana’ is used for the first time in a Buddhist context in the 5th century ce, and many premodern lists contain both Buddhist and Śaiva schools, as well as Jaina ‘philosophy’, at the same time omitting Yoga and Vedānta.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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