In Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism, a sant (IAST: Sant, [sɐn̪t̪]) 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]


See also


  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.
  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