Darsana and Guru

London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic (2020)
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Darshana, in the sense of true philosophical knowledge, Darshana is first quoted in the Vaiśesika Sūtra (first century CE) to mean the perfect vision of everything. Etymologically, Darshana evolves from the Sanskr̥ti term Drś, that is, vision. The contemporary use of the term Darshana finds its new dimension in the writings of Haribhardra (eighteenth century CE), who considers different philosophical schools in the cord of Darshana in his text Ṣad-darśana-samuccaya. Later, eminent Vedāntin Mādhava in fourteenth century CE popularized and expatiated the meaning of Darshana in Sarvadarśana Saṅgraha. The purport of the term Darshana is embedded in the notion of Indianness that caters to an influential uniqueness in Hinduism, Jainism (Samyak Darshana or liberation consists in right vision) and Mahayana Buddhism (Nagarjuna’s dictum tattva-darśana, i.e., the true reality, and Vasubandhu’s use of Darshana marga, i.e., the conduit of seeing). The conception of the word guru in Indian cultures goes back to the Upanishadic era, especially in the Mundakopanishad, where Brahma (the creator of the world) taught the Brahma Vidya (the foundation of all knowledge or the speculative discussion about ultimate reality) to his eldest son, Atharvan. Later, Artharvan transmitted the Brahma Vidya to Angiras, who shared the absolute knowledge with Satyavaha, a successor of Sage Bharadwaja. Satyavaha narrated to Bharadwaja, who finally imparted the knowledge (both the higher and lower levels) to Angiras. One could find a significance herein using the Upanishadic term paraparam (Mundakopanishad, 1.2). The term not only indicates that the foundation of all knowledge has two different folds – para (transcendent) and apar (mundane) – but also that the term paraparam tinges on the transmission progression of the knowledge from guru (enlightened master) to his shisya (dedicated disciple). The proper way of learning Brahma Vidya depends on the gurupasadana; the only guru can condescend to expose wisdom to the devoted disciples.

Author's Profile

Dr Sanjit Chakraborty
Vellore Institute of Technology-AP University


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