Apparently not. Somehow the next morning, I ended up on Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project blog. I say "somehow" because I got there through a series of links on Slate, and because I don't really know what to think about happiness projects, even when they're written into our Constitution. It's not that I'm against happiness or anything, just that it seems to fall where it will. As does misery.
Anyway, somehow the links lead me once again to 'darshan'. Gretchen also found it to be a word outside her ken, but she made an interesting leap with it. According to her research, 'darshan' means sight, or auspicious viewing. According to her, "Darshan is the beneficial glow that comes from being in the presence of a great spiritual leader (or holy place or object). Merely looking at such a person – and even better, receiving his or her glance – bestows a blessing."
The interesting extension that Rubin makes is extending this to movie stars and the like. She hadn't really understood people's need to see and be in the presence of their idols, but the kind of spiritual benefit sought made it all make sense to her. Well, you can read the whole thing here.
But maybe we shouldn't just take Rubin's word for all this. What does darshan mean?
Well, it pretty much means what she said, I think. But here's a bit from the Bhagavad Gita, where Arjuna is granted a vision of God:
Hari, the great lord of the possessors of mystic power, then showed to the son of Prithâ his supreme divine form, having many mouths and eyes, having (within it) many wonderful sights, having many celestial ornaments, having many celestial weapons held erect, wearing celestial flowers and vestments, having an anointment of celestial perfumes, full of every wonder, the infinite deity with faces in all directions. If in the heavens, the lustre of a thousand suns burst forth all at once, that would be like the lustre of that mighty one. There the son of Pându then observed in the body of the god of gods the whole universe (all) in one, and divided into numerous (divisions). Then Dhanañgaya filled with amazement, and with hair standing on end, bowed his head before the god, and spoke with joined hands. [Arguna said:] O god! I see within your body the gods, as also all the groups of various beings; and the lord Brahman seated on (his) lotus seat, and all the sages and celestial snakes. I see you, who are of countless forms, possessed of many arms, stomachs, mouths, and eyes on all sides. And, O lord of the universe! O you of all forms! I do not see your end or middle or beginning. I see you bearing a coronet and a mace and a discus—a mass of glory, brilliant on all sides, difficult to look at, having on all sides the effulgence of a blazing fire or sun, and indefinable. You are indestructible, the supreme one to be known. You are the highest support of this universe. You are the inexhaustible protector of everlasting piety.
Maybe I'm missing something, but this seems to be of a slightly different order than seeing Brad Pitt on the street...
On the other hand, it's possible that I'm wrong...