Darshan and Lila

Derived from a Sanskrit root that means to see, the noun darshan indicates “sight”.  Developing from a Sanskrit root that means to play, the noun lila is best translated as “play”.  In the context of bhakti-style religion in India, these two terms have specialized meanings, and the concepts these two terms indicate together form the foundation of the religious significance of theatre in India.

As “sight”, darshan refers not only to the object a person might see (as in: when we looked over the edge of the Grand Canyon, we saw an awesome sight), but also to seeing, an activity commonly understood in a much more active sense in India.