Seeing the Gods
What sanctifies the [Hindu] worshipper is no act of conversion, no change of spirit, but the simple act of seeing, the Hindi word darsan. A Hindu goes to a temple not to ‘worship’ but rather “for darsan,” to see the image of the deity.
Darsan is a two-way flow of vision. While the devotee sees the god, so too the god sees the devotee, and the two make contact through their eyes.
The bulbous or saucer eyes that make Indian paintings of gods seem bizarre to us are clues to the dominance of vision in the Hindu’s relation to this gods. Many gods, like Siva and Ganesa, have a third eye in the center of their forehead.
While “seeing” brought sanctity and satisfaction to the Hindu, the Western religions of Judiasm, Christianity, and Islam found their way through the Word.
Western religious traditions were wary of the seen, of the image….
— Daniel J. Boorstin, The Creators, pp. 4-5