Sadhguru answers a question during darshan at the Isha Yoga Center, and speaks of what darshan means.
Sadhguru: There is one kind of meeting which we call sathsang. There is another kind of such assemblies which we call darshan. The word darshan literally means to behold or to see. When you say “I am in darshan,” you are stating that “I see” or “I behold.” Traditionally, when people go to temples in India, they are not supposed to pray or worship – they are supposed to have darshan. You are only supposed to behold because there is a certain energy form that you are trying to get an imprint of within you. You will see a big crowd who just want to be in visual contact with the deity for a moment – they want to have darshan. No prayer, no pooja, no worship, no nothing; they just want to behold and be beheld by the deity. This is a culture in the East which comes from a very deep understanding of the life process.
What Is Darshan?
What is the meaning of this? Is it like a shopping window, “I want to see?” No. What most people do not understand is, when you say “I see you,” when you say “I behold who you are,” the experience, the image of the other, is happening within you. If energy forms are powerful enough, they are capable of imprinting themselves upon your system. If you are too full of yourself, if you are too identified with things that you are not, then nothing goes in; the image just bounces off your eyeballs. But the less you are, if there is nothing much of you, this image, if it is properly taken in, imprints itself and grows within you.
This is why people want to behold the divine for a moment. Once you see something, even if you close your eyes, it is there and if you behold something with a total willingness of wanting to take that imprint into you and if you reduce yourself, then this image grows and becomes a live process; it has become a part of you. When you will allow it to become the whole of you is just a question of when you will make yourself into nothing.
Devotees claim because of their god or goddess, their business is working wonderfully, their family is functioning very well – everything in their life is going fabulously. This is because in some way, they are taking an imprint. A superior machine is working for you, and suddenly, you experience a different level of functioning altogether.
Darshan: Beholding as an “empty house”
Unfortunately, inspired by other religions, people have started praying in temples too. Telling the Creator what He should do is the most idiotic thing. None of us has the intelligence to create even a blade of grass. Then who are we to give daily advice to the one who created such a phenomenal existence? You only behold – you do not ask your divine entity for anything. You are not willing to settle for anything less than the best – you want Him. You do not want anything less than becoming divine, so you want to take an imprint of the Divine within yourself.
Darshan is not about listening to some great talk. But how to make you behold? Either I must sing or I must speak. Because I am not good at singing, I speak. Right from the moment you first sit with me, I have been saying, “Just be with me.” That means being in darshan. This is not a complex philosophy that you have to understand. Simply behold so that the energy imprints itself, because I don’t come and sit here as a person. I have arranged myself in such a way that there is a certain level of vibrance that is worth getting an imprint of.
If darshan has to happen, you have to take the maximum input into you. If you are so meditative that you are absolutely not there – you are an empty house, that is a great way to behold. But if you are in a house-full state, then it is best that you behold with utmost love and tenderness because this is when the imprint of what you see is deepest.