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In Hinduism and other Indian religions, sant is a descriptor with various usages.
Sant is often translated to marathi
"saint", although this is a false cognate
- there is no etymological commonality. It is derived from the Sanskrit root sat, which is variously defined. John Hawley gives definitions as "to be good" and "to be real", while W. H. McLeod says "truth, reality", in the sense of "'one who knows the truth' or 'one who has experienced Ultimate Reality', ie: a person who has achieved a state of spiritual enlightenment or mystical self-realisation".
- In fifteenth- and sixteenth-century India, during the period of the Bhakti movement in Hinduism, it was used generally to describe people who worshipped and sang the praises of God.
- More recently, it has become a descriptor for a specific group of holy men who advocated a particular point of view known as Sant Mat.
- In present-day Punjab, the term finds use to indicate that a person is a holy man who has chosen to live apart from society.
- 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 and other religious leaders.
- It is also a surname among individuals of the Deshastha Brahmin caste in Maharashtra.