What is Darshan?

What is Darshan?
May 14, 2020

Shambhavi dives into the multi-layered meanings of darshan. She explains why it is central to direct realization traditions. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Podcast First Words

If we have any contact with spiritual traditions from India, then the word darshan is most popularly used and known to us as something that happens when you’re with a teacher. Or it could be when you’re in a temple, or you’re looking at a murti—a statue or picture of a deity or guru. When you look into the eyes of that teacher, statue, or picture and something happens, it’s called receiving darshan.

So the word is used to mean a sort of mini shaktipat. It’s used to mean a moment when you receive some kind of possibility for greater opening. Or when you have some kind of experience looking into the eyes of a statue, picture, or living person who has some realization. This is called getting darshan.

In India or even here, you’ll hear people casually say—I’m going to such-and-such a temple because so-and-so is giving darshan. Or—I’m going to go meet this teacher who’s giving darshan. Or—I’m going to get darshan from Durga or Hanuman in the temple.

I think for your average person going to a temple in India, it really just means you’re going to go look at a statue, or you’re going to go meet the teacher. It doesn’t necessarily mean that anything spectacular is going to happen. But it does mean some kind of blessing, or some kind of spiritual event, even if you just experience it as ordinary.

But in the direct realization traditions, we go much more deeply into this word, darshan. And even if we don’t use the word darshan, we’re going to explore it in many different ways.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.