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Darśana, Image Worship

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Part of the Encyclopedia of Indian Religions book series (EIR)


Hierophany; Sacred vision; Theophany

Related Terms

Omnipresence; Panenthism; Pantheism


Darśana (Hindi: darśan) literally means “sight” or “vision” and is used in the Hindu tradition in reference to one’s visual experience (external or internal) of someone or something that opens the heart and inspires within a sense of the sacred, of divine grace, and/or of divine presence. Although the concept is part of all the Indian Dharma Traditions (i.e., Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism), it is most elaborated in the Hindu tradition, which will be the focus of this entry.

For Hindus, having darśana is part of devotional endeavors that are central to the practice of their tradition ([1], 3). Whenever they visit a holy person, a temple or shrine with a sacred image, or any of myriad natural places considered sacred, including special mountains, rivers, caves, valleys, trees, etc., they do so with the intention of “seeing” the person, place, or image, and thereby...

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  1. Eck DL (1998 [1981]) Darśan: seeing the divine image in India, 3rd edn. Columbia University Press, New York

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  2. Eliade M (1958) Patterns in comparative religion (trans: Sheed R). Sheed and Ward, Inc., New Yrok

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  3. Rinehart R (ed) (2004) Contemporary Hinduism: ritual, culture, and practice. ABC CLIO, Santa Barbara

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Correspondence to Ramdas Lamb .

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Lamb, R. (2020). Darśana, Image Worship. In: Jain, P., Sherma, R., Khanna, M. (eds) Hinduism and Tribal Religions. Encyclopedia of Indian Religions. Springer, Dordrecht.

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