Sant (religion)

In Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism, a sant is a human being revered for his or her knowledge of "self, truth, reality" and as a "truth-exemplar".[1][2] In Sikhism it is used to describe a being who has attained spiritual enlightenment and divine knowledge and power through union with God.[3]


Sant is sometimes translated as "saint", but this is a false cognate (there is no etymological commonality).[4] Sant is derived from the Sanskrit root sat, which can mean "truth, reality, essence", and saint is derived from Latin sanctus, which means "holy, sacred",[1] from Indo-European root sak-, "to sanctify"[5]

Schomer and McLeod explain sant as preceptor of Sat or "truth, reality", in the sense of "'one who knows the truth' or 'one who has experienced Ultimate Reality', that is a person who has achieved a state of spiritual enlightenment or mystical self-realisation".[6][7] William Pinch suggests the best translation of sant is "truth-exemplar".[1]


Sant differs from saint not merely in the etymological sense but also in usage. The word is used in various contexts:[2][6][8]

  • In fifteenth- and sixteenth-century India under Islamic rule, it was used generally to describe teachers and poet-scholars who led worshippers and communities the praises of god or goddess within the Bhakti movement in Hinduism.
  • In modern era, the term sometimes describes any holy man or woman who advocates a particular form of spirituality or members of the group that leads a Sant Mat (teachings of a spiritual congregation).
  • The term is also used in a generic sense and in this respect is similar to the usage of saint to indicate a morally good person. As such, it has been applied to a wide range of gurus (not to be confused with Sikh gurus) and other religious leaders.


  • In Sikhism, a sant, brahmgiani, or bhagat is any human being that has attained God realization and spiritual communion with God. Sikhs believe that the divine energy of God can be experienced by humans on Earth. This is attained through continual recitation and spiritual internalization of God's name (Naam Japo/Naam Simran). Sikhs commonly utilize Waheguru as the name of God which translates into "Wondrous Guru".
  • Sants can originate from any religion. Figures such as Kabir, Ravidas, Namdev, Farid, Bhikkan and others are known as sants or bhagats, despite some being of Islam or Hindu faith. Divine knowledge is universal, and their knowledge after obtaining enlightenment through Naam Simran has been compiled and included in the holy book of Sikhism, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib,
  • Sants are holy persons of very exalted status, one of being the ideal human being. As such, Sikhs are encouraged to seek the company and holy congregation of sants (Sadh-Sangat), learn from them, and attain "santhood" through intensive reading and contemplation of Sikh scripture (gurbani) and Naam Simran.
  • The virtuous life associated with a sant or a brahmgyani (one who has a perfect knowledge of God) is strenuously defined in Sikh gurbani, most notably in the Sukhmani Sahib passage of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhism advocates for people of all faiths to realize and become one with God, and attaining union with God is the highest form of spiritual enlightenment. [9] [3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c William Pinch (1996), Peasants and Monks in British India, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0520200616, page 181 footnote 3
  2. ^ a b Schomer & McLeod (1987), pp. 1-17
  3. ^ a b Khalsa, Sant Singh (2007). Sri Guru Granth Sahib: English Translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Arizona: Hand Made Books (Mandeep Singh). pp. 12–263.
  4. ^ Schomer & McLeod (1987), p. 3
  5. ^ Watkins, Calvert. "American Heritage Dictionary Indo-European Roots Appendix". Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Retrieved 2017-12-04. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b Hawley (1987), p. 57
  7. ^ Schomer & McLeod (1987), p. 2
  8. ^ John Hawley and Mark Juergensmeyer (2008), Songs of the Saints of India, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195694208, pages 2-8
  9. ^ Schomer & McLeod (1987), pp. 251-267