Difference between revisions of "Maya (माया)"

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Many Upanishads support the concept that Brahman (unconditioned) is the substratum for the universe (Kathopanishad 1.2.1, 2.2.8, Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 2.5.15, 4.4.17, Mundaka 2.2.2, Taittriya 3.10.3 and others).  
 
Many Upanishads support the concept that Brahman (unconditioned) is the substratum for the universe (Kathopanishad 1.2.1, 2.2.8, Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 2.5.15, 4.4.17, Mundaka 2.2.2, Taittriya 3.10.3 and others).  
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== Creation Involves both Ishvara and Maya ==
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Origin, continuance and dissolution of the world would result from ‘Isvara’ who is by nature eternal, pure, consciousness and free, as also omniscient and omnipotent. His rulership extends to the beings of the samsara which are bound by the limiting adjuncts conjured by Avidya.
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Mundaka Upanishad refers to the analogy of spider producing the web to show the relationship between Brahman (as both the intelligent and material cause) and Jagat in the following lines<blockquote>यथोर्णनाभिः सृजते गृह्णते च यथा पृथिव्यामोषधयः संभवन्ति ।</blockquote><blockquote>यथा सतः पुरुषात् केशलोमानि तथाऽक्षरात् संभवतीह विश्वम् ॥ ७ ॥ (Mund. Upan. 1.1.7)<ref name=":0">Mundaka Upanishad ([https://sa.wikisource.org/wiki/%E0%A4%AE%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%A3%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A1%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%AA%E0%A4%A8%E0%A4%BF%E0%A4%B7%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%8D See Mundaka 1 Khanda 1])</ref></blockquote>As a spider spreads out and withdraws (its thread), as on the earth grows the herbs, and as from the living man issues out hair on the head and body, so out of the Aksharam (Immutable) does the universe emerge.<ref name=":5">Swami Gambhirananda (1937) ''Eight Upanishads, Volume 2 (Aitareya, Mundaka, Mandukya and Karika, and  Prasna) With the Commentary of Sankaracarya.'' Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama. (Pages 91-92)</ref>
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Further, the Upanishad explains that the name and form arises from the Brahman in the following way<blockquote>यः सर्वज्ञः सर्वविद्यस्य ज्ञानमयं तापः । तस्मादेतद्ब्रह्म नाम रूपमन्नं च जायाते ॥ ९ ॥ (Mund. Upan. 1.1.9)<ref name=":0" /></blockquote>From Him, who is omniscient and all-knowing, whose austerity is constituted by knowledge, evolves this (derived entity) Brahman (called as Hiranyagarbha), Name, Form and Food.<ref name=":5" />
  
 
== Maya as Prakrti ==
 
== Maya as Prakrti ==
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Though inseparable from the Paramatma, when turned towards Him, she is called Vidya or Mahavidya, the Supreme Knowledge which leads a Jiva to Him (moksha). When turned away from Him, towards worldly aspects, she is called Avidya or Mahamaya, the Great Illusion (the lack of true knowledge) which permeates in the Mulaprakrti and remains inseparable from it.<ref name=":022" />
 
Though inseparable from the Paramatma, when turned towards Him, she is called Vidya or Mahavidya, the Supreme Knowledge which leads a Jiva to Him (moksha). When turned away from Him, towards worldly aspects, she is called Avidya or Mahamaya, the Great Illusion (the lack of true knowledge) which permeates in the Mulaprakrti and remains inseparable from it.<ref name=":022" />
 
== Creation Involves both Ishvara and Maya ==
 
Origin, continuance and dissolution of the world would result from ‘Isvara’ who is by nature eternal, pure, consciousness and free, as also omniscient and omnipotent.
 
  
 
== References ==
 
== References ==

Revision as of 23:07, 11 August 2019

The Divine Power or Shakti (शक्तिः), the will of Ishvara, His power in manifesting the Jagat (the worlds or universe), as says Smrti, is called Maya (माया). Maya is inseparable from Ishvara. It is the knowledge of the concept of Maya that provides an answer to the question - "How can Brahman, which is unchanging, become the material cause of the Universe?"[1]

Causal Nature of Brahman

Questions

The question of how Brahman is related to the visible world and whether he is the intelligent, efficient or material (substratum) cause leads one to explore the Upanishads. Thus we put together a few perspectives for exploring the role of Brahman in relation to the Universe as follows

  1. Is Brahman, the nimitta (निमित्तम् । efficient) cause for the Universe?
  2. Is Brahman, the upadana (उपादानम् । material) cause for the Universe? Does It undergo any modifications by Parinama (परिणामम् । transformation just like milk becoming curd as described by Samkhya siddhanta) or Vivarta (विवर्त । unreal or apparent change)?
  3. Is Brahman, the adhistanam (अधिष्ठानम् । substratum) for the Universe?

Answers

Many references in Upanishads advocate that Brahman is not the cause of the perceived universe. For example

  • Brhdaranyaka Upanishad (2.5.19) states Brahman is without prior or posterior...
  • Kathopanishad (1.2.14) states that It is different from cause and effect.
  • Kathopanishad (1.2.18) states that It did not originate from anything nor did anything originate from it. It is neither born nor does it die.

So, Brahman being the efficient cause (निमित्तकारणम् । nimitta kaaranam) of the Universe appears illogical with the above statements. But alongside we have other Upanishads which describe instances where Brahman is said to have visualized, thought and

  • deliberated on creation as discussed in Upanishads such as Chandogya (6.2.3), Taittriya (2.6.1), Aitareya (1.1.3, 1.1.4 etc)
  • created and perceived the universe as in Chandogya (6.2.3), Aitereya (1.1.2)

Thus we see that Brahman appears to be the material cause of the world.

Brahman, as per any Vedanta siddhanta, does not by itself undergo any modification. In its nature, it is all-pervading Existence (सत् । Sat), which serves as the Adhisthanam (अधिष्ठानम् । substratum) for the name and form to be superimposed. The actual material cause (परिणाम-उपादानकारणम् । parinama upadana karana) is Maya, which superimposes, on the substratum (the unconditioned Brahman), the differentiated name and form on account of which we perceive a world of objects. The entity that visualizes and designs the names and forms to be superimposed, and drives Maya to superimpose them is Ishvara (the conditioned Brahman). The Supreme Ishvara, by His Maya, creates preserves and destroys the innumerable world-systems that form the ocean of Samsara.[2]

Many Upanishads support the concept that Brahman (unconditioned) is the substratum for the universe (Kathopanishad 1.2.1, 2.2.8, Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 2.5.15, 4.4.17, Mundaka 2.2.2, Taittriya 3.10.3 and others).

Creation Involves both Ishvara and Maya

Origin, continuance and dissolution of the world would result from ‘Isvara’ who is by nature eternal, pure, consciousness and free, as also omniscient and omnipotent. His rulership extends to the beings of the samsara which are bound by the limiting adjuncts conjured by Avidya.

Mundaka Upanishad refers to the analogy of spider producing the web to show the relationship between Brahman (as both the intelligent and material cause) and Jagat in the following lines

यथोर्णनाभिः सृजते गृह्णते च यथा पृथिव्यामोषधयः संभवन्ति ।

यथा सतः पुरुषात् केशलोमानि तथाऽक्षरात् संभवतीह विश्वम् ॥ ७ ॥ (Mund. Upan. 1.1.7)[3]

As a spider spreads out and withdraws (its thread), as on the earth grows the herbs, and as from the living man issues out hair on the head and body, so out of the Aksharam (Immutable) does the universe emerge.[4] Further, the Upanishad explains that the name and form arises from the Brahman in the following way

यः सर्वज्ञः सर्वविद्यस्य ज्ञानमयं तापः । तस्मादेतद्ब्रह्म नाम रूपमन्नं च जायाते ॥ ९ ॥ (Mund. Upan. 1.1.9)[3]

From Him, who is omniscient and all-knowing, whose austerity is constituted by knowledge, evolves this (derived entity) Brahman (called as Hiranyagarbha), Name, Form and Food.[4]

Maya as Prakrti

Mulaprakrti or Prakrti (Shakti) and Maya are often interchanged and thus used synonymously. The Upanishads describe the visible universe, and the human experience, as an interplay of Purusha (the eternal, unchanging principle, consciousness) and Prakrti. Ishvara by his Maya, creates, preserves and destroys the innumerable world systems that form the ocean of Samsara.[5] As explained in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad

छन्दांसि यज्ञाः क्रतवो व्रतानि भूतं भव्यं यच्च वेदा वदन्ति । अस्मान्मायी सृजते विश्वमेतत्तस्मिंश्चान्यो मायया सन्निरुद्धः ॥ ९ ॥

मायां तु प्रकृतिं विद्यान्मायिनं च महेश्वरम् । तस्यवयवभूतैस्तु व्याप्तं सर्वमिदं जगत् ॥ १० ॥ (Shvet. Upan. 4.9-10)[6]

The Vedas, yajnas, kratus, vratas, the past and future, and all those which the vedas speak of, are from It (अस्मात्), from Brahman, the Immutable under consideration. The Ruler of Maya is Mayi (मायी) projects this world. One should know that Nature is surely Maya (माया) and the Supreme Being (महेश्वरम्) is Mayi (मायी) the ruler of Maya. This whole universe is verily pervaded by what are His limbs.[7]

Prakrti or Nature, presented earlier as the material cause of the universe, is surely Maya.

Devi Bhagavata describes the matter side of Nature which is regarded as Maya. Shakteya sampradayins describe Maya as - A feminine principle Maya is inseparable from Ishvara (Conditioned Brahman).[5]

परात्मनस्तथा शक्तेस्तयोरैक्यं सदैव हि । अभिन्नं तद्वपुर्ज्ञात्वा मुच्यते सर्वदोषतः ॥ ४९ ॥ (Devi. Bhag. 6.15.49)[8]

Just like Paramatma (the Self) is the Parashakti (Supreme Force) and both are always in perfect Oneness (united); their Forms are not different. When such a knowledge arises, then the Jivas can be free from all sins and faults and blemishes. Their unity is like that of the moon and the moonlight or that of the fire and its power to burn, says Nilakantha, commenting on this sloka.[5]

तस्य चेच्छास्म्यहं दैत्य सृजामि सकलं जगत् । स मां पश्यति विश्वात्मा तस्याहं प्रकृतिः शिवा ॥ ३६ ॥ (Devi. Bhag. 5.16.36)[9]

I am the Iccha (will) of Him (Purusha), O Daitya, I created the whole universe. He, the Universal Self beholds me and I am His auspicious Nature (Prakrti). In Adhyatma Ramayana She is described as having two forms.

राम माया द्विधा भाति विद्याऽविद्येति ते सदा । (Adhy. Rama. 3.3.32).

O Rama! Maya manifests in dual forms, these ever are Vidya and Avidya.

Though inseparable from the Paramatma, when turned towards Him, she is called Vidya or Mahavidya, the Supreme Knowledge which leads a Jiva to Him (moksha). When turned away from Him, towards worldly aspects, she is called Avidya or Mahamaya, the Great Illusion (the lack of true knowledge) which permeates in the Mulaprakrti and remains inseparable from it.[5]

References

  1. Sanatana Dharma : An Advanced Textbook of Hindu Religion and Ethics. (1903) Benares : The Board of Trustees, Central Hindu College. (Page 53)
  2. Sanatana Dharma : An Advanced Textbook of Hindu Religion and Ethics. (1903) Benares : The Board of Trustees, Central Hindu College. (Page 59)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Mundaka Upanishad (See Mundaka 1 Khanda 1)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Swami Gambhirananda (1937) Eight Upanishads, Volume 2 (Aitareya, Mundaka, Mandukya and Karika, and Prasna) With the Commentary of Sankaracarya. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama. (Pages 91-92)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Sanatana Dharma : An Advanced Textbook of Hindu Religion and Ethics. (1903) Benares : The Board of Trustees, Central Hindu College
  6. Shvetasvatara Upanishad (Adhyaya 4)
  7. Swami Gambhirananda (2009 Fourth Edition) Svetasvara Upanishad With the Commentary of Sankaracharya. Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama (Pages 150-152)
  8. Devi Bhagavatam (Skanda 6 Adhyaya15)
  9. Devi Bhagavatam (Skanda 5 Adhyaya 16)