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Maya or Māyā (Sanskrit माया māyāa[›]) is a term found in Pali and Sanskrit literature which has multiple meanings and is often translated as "illusion" or "delusion".
- About many things in Hinduism I had been once inclined to believe that it was all imagination that there was much of dream in it, much that was delusion and maya. But now day after day I realised in the mind, I realized in the heart, I realised in the body the truths of the Hindu religion.
- Sri Aurobindo, in Penguin Sri Aurobindo Reader, p. 24.
- Our tragic age demands poetry of courage and not whimpers about the inevitable end of all maya. People still extract pain of each other even after Buddha, Nanak and Gandhi have been preaching peace.
- Thus annihilation means, in the Buddhist philosophy, only a dispersion of matter, in whatever form or semblance of form it may be; for everything that bears a shape was created, and thus must sooner or later perish i.e. change that shape. Therefore, as something temporary, though seeming to be permanent, it is but an illusion, Maya; for eternity has neither beginning nor end, the more or less prolonged duration of some particular form passes, as it were, like an instantaneous flash of lighting.
- Whoever is unacquainted with my law and dies in that state, must return to the earth till he becomes a perfect Samanean. To achieve this object, he must destroy within himself the trinity of Maya. He must extinguish his passions, unite and identify himself with the law (the teaching of the secret doctrine) and comprehend the religion of annihilation. Here annihilation refers but to matter.
- Buddha, in “Isis Unveiled: Secrets of the Ancient Wisdom Tradition, Madame Blavatsky's ...”, p. 61.
- Believe in all things; none believe;
judge not nor warp by "Facts" the thought;
See clear, hear clear, tho' life may seem
Mâyâ and Mirage, Dream and Naught.
- I shall chide you no more. You and I shall smile together, so long as our two forms appear different in the maya-dream of God. Finally we shall merge as one in the Cosmic Beloved; our smiles shall be His smile, our unified song of joy vibrating throughout eternity to be broadcast to God-tuned souls.
- Yukteswar Giri, in Autobiography of a Yogi (1 January 2008), p. 416.
- Maya, a Sanskrit word, is a magic power, through which God makes human beings believe what turns out to be an illusion... If our own five senses are not controlled, then we become part of Maya. Everything that we see in the world is part of Maya. According to Advaita... everything and everyone is part of Maya... because of which we enjoy and suffer in life... Maya makes one happy and sad in life. When one loses something valuable then one feels sad and creates sad emotions. Most of the time, most people will keep that sad emotion within and can't let it go. What is inside is what creates more outside for one to feel it over and over. Releasing all those feelings and emotions that make one sad is a stepping stone to infinite happiness.
- The Himalayan Times, What is Maya? November 2, 2022
- Your accepted conceptions of cosmogony — whether from the theological or scientific standpoints —do not enable you to solve a single anthropological or even ethnical problem and they stand in your way whenever you attempt to solve the problem of the races on this planet... Go on saying, Our planet and man were created — and you will be fighting against hard facts for ever, analyzing and losing time over trifling details—unable to even grasp the whole. But once admit that... both planets and man are —states for a given time; that their present appearance — geological and anthropological — is transitory and but a condition concomitant of that stage of evolution at which they have arrived in the descending cycle — and all will become plain. You will easily understand what is meant by the one and only element or principle in the universe and that androgynous; the seven-headed serpent Ananda of Vishnu, the Nag around Buddha, the great dragon eternity biting with its active head, its passive tail, from the emanations of which spring worlds, beings and things. You will comprehend the reason why the first philosopher proclaimed all — maya...
- Koot Hoomi, in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, p. 75-76 (1923)
- The ancient Hindu philosophers stated as a fundamental truth that the world of our sense - experience is all illusion (maya), that change, plurality, and causation are not real, but there is one reality, God. This is metaphysical Monism of the idelalistic-spiritual type, tending towards mysticism.
- Every living creature has its own individual soul, known as atman. However, the material world is an illusion (maya). It causes suffering and prevents the individual soul from perceiving or being connected with the World Soul. The goal of existence is to rejoin one’s atman with the Brahman, allowing oneself to be absorbed into perfection.
- John McCannon, in Barron's AP World History, (1 February 2010), p. 82.
- He Himself spread out the expanse of His Maya, and He Himself beholds it. He assumes so many forms, and plays so many games, and yet he remains distinct and detached from its all.
- The Sanskrit word ‘maya’ refers to all things that can be measured. Human understanding of the world is limited, hence measurable, hence maya. To believe this maya is truth is delusion. Beyond maya, beyond human values and human judgements, beyond the current understanding of the world, is a limitless reality which makes room for everyone and everything. That reality is God.
- Devdutt Pattanaik, in Myth = Mithya (2008), p. 5-6
- The Goddess is Maya, embodiment of all delusions. She is Shakti, personification of energy. She is Adi, primal, as ancient and boundless as the soul...The embodiment of Adi- Maya-Shakti – Durga is the invincible one. She is at once bride and warrior. The one establishes home, provides pleasure, produces children and offers food.
- Devdutt Pattanaik, in "Myth = Mithya (2008)", p. 146-147.
- The Tantrik approach to self-realization is different from the Vedic approach. The former looks upon the Goddess as Shakti, energy, to be experienced while the latter looks upon the Goddess as Maya, delusion, to be transcended. The former is more sensory, the latter less so.
- Devdutt Pattanaik, in "Myth = Mithya (2008)", p. 200.
- Without the help of the indescribable Maya, the neo-Vedantic doctrine cannot be sustained, Maya in the sense of avidya or the cause of illusion has never been used in the Vedas.
- Raj Pruthi, in “Vedic Civilization (1 January 2004)”, p. 222.
- Wherever the word Maya occurs [In Rigveda] it is used only to signify the might or the power.
- Raj Pruthi, in “Vedic Civilization (1 January 2004)”, p. 222.
- If we look more deeply into humanity’s ancient religions and spiritual traditions, we will find that underneath the many surface differences there are two core insights that most of them agree on. The words they use to describe those insights differ, yet they all point to a twofold fundamental truth. The first part of this truth is the realization that the “normal” state of mind of most human beings contains a strong element of what we might call dysfunction or even madness. Certain teachings at the heart of Hinduism perhaps come closest to seeing this dysfunction as a form of collective mental illness. They call it maya, the veil of delusion. Ramana Maharshi, one of the greatest Indian sages, bluntly states: “The mind is maya.” Buddhism uses different terms. According to the Buddha, the human mind in its normal state generates dukkha, which can be translated as suffering, unsatisfactoriness, or just plain misery. He sees it as a characteristic of the human condition. Wherever you go, whatever you do, says the Buddha, you will encounter dukkha, and it will manifest in every situation sooner or later.
According to Christian teachings, the normal collective state of humanity is one of “original sin.” Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted... It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of its cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition.
- The word Maya in the Rigveda (RV) generally denotes “occult power” applicable in good sense to gods and in bad sense to demons, and may be be rendered by the English word “craft” having a similar double application. But is used in the sense of “illusion” or “show”, thus forestalling later Vedanta philosophy.
- Rigveda, in Vedic Civilization (1 January 2004), p. 167
- How can Brahman be differentiated or desecrated? The guru had one more lesson, the greatest of his life, to learn. He would never condescend to admit of Maya or Shakti. Brahman only exists—this was his refrain.
- Ramakrishna, in Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa 2008, p. 62.
- To love only members of the Bramho Samaj
or of one's own family is maya;
to love one's own countrymen is may.
But to love the people of all countries,
to love the members of all religions, is daya.
Such love comes from love of God, from daya (compassion).
- Maya is nothing but 'woman and gold'.
A man living in its midst gradually loses his spiritual
alertness. He thinks all is well with him.
The scavenger carries a tub of night-soil on his head,
and in course of time loses his repulsion to it.
One gradually acquires love of God through
the practice of chanting God's holy name.
- Ramakrishna, in Ram Krishna Paramhansa (1 April 2005), p. 120.
- Remember that daya, compassion, and maya, attachment,
are two different things. Attachment means the feeling of
'my-ness' towards one's relatives.
Compassion is the love one feels
for all beings of the world.
It is an attitude of equality. Maya also comes from God.
Through maya, God makes one serve one's relatives.
But one thing should be remembered
mAyA keeps us in ignorance and entangles
us in the world, whereas daya
makes our hearts pure and gradually unties our bonds.
- Ramakrishna, in The Vedanta Kesari, Volume 91 (2004), p. 17.
- How is it ever possible for one man to liberate another
from the bondage of the world? God alone,
the Creator of this world-bewitching maya,
can save men from maya.
There is no other refuge but that great teacher,
How is it ever possible for men who have not
realized God or received His command,
and who are not strengthened with divine strength,
to save others from the prison-house of the world?
- He who depends on chances and situations to be happy, is a Sansari. Mind alone is maya at play. Remember, `Even This Will Pass Away'. It is sure to be dark if you close your eyes. Not to do what you feel like doing is Freedom.
- Almost all of you have heard of the word Maya. Generally it is used, though incorrectly, to denote illusion, or delusion, or some such thing. But the theory of Maya forms one of the pillars upon which the Vedanta rests; it is, therefore, necessary that it should be properly understood.
- The oldest idea of Maya that we find in the Vedic literature is the sense of delusion; but then the real theory had not been reached. We find such passages as, "Indra through his Maya assumed various forms." Here it is true the word Maya means something like magic, and we find various other passages, always taking the same meaning.
- Vivekananda, in Complete Works, Volume 2, p. 88.
- And the answer given was very significant: "Because we talk in vain, and because we are satisfied with the things of the senses, and because we are running after desires; therefore, we, as it were, cover the Reality with a mist." Here the word Maya is not used at all, but we get the idea that the cause of our ignorance is a kind of mist that has come between us and the Truth.
- Vivekananda, in Complete Works, Volume 2, p. 88.
- When the Hindu says the world is Maya, at once people get the idea that the world is an illusion. This interpretation has some basis, as coming through the Buddhistic philosophers, because there was one section of philosophers who did not believe in the external world at all. But the Maya of the Vedanta, in its last developed form, is neither Idealism nor Realism, nor is it a theory. It is a simple statement of facts--what we are and what we see around us.
- O everyone of us there must come a time when the whole universe will be found to have been a mere dream, … The same world which was the ghastly battle-field of Maya is now changed into something good and beautiful. The moment we come to know the inner voice and understand what it is, the whole scene changes. The same world which was a ghastly battlefield of Maya is now changed into something good and beautiful.
- Swami Vivekananda, in The idea of One Religion, p. 60.
- We see that beyond this Maya the Vedantic philosophers find something which is not bound by Maya; and if we can get there, we shall not be bound by Maya. This idea is in some form or other the common property of all religions. But, with the Vedanta, it is only the beginning of religion and not the end. The idea of a Personal God, the Ruler and Creator of this universe, as He has been styled, the Ruler of Maya, or nature, is not the end of these Vedantic ideas; it is only the beginning. The idea grows and grows until the Vedantist finds that He who, he thought, was standing outside, is he himself and is in reality within. He is the one who is free, but who through limitation thought he was bound.
- This Maya is everywhere. It is terrible. Yet we have to work through it. The man who says that he will work when the world has become all good and then he will enjoy bliss is as likely to succeed as the man who sits beside the Ganga and says, "I will ford the river when all the water has run into the ocean." The way is not with Maya, but against it. This is another fact to learn. We are not born as helpers of nature, but competitors with nature. We are its bond-masters, but we bind ourselves down. Why is this house here? Nature did not build it. Nature says, go and live in the forest. Man says, I will build a house and fight with nature, and he does so. The whole history of humanity is a continuous fight against the so-called laws of nature, and man gains in the end. Coming to the internal world, there too the same fight is going on, this fight between the animal man and the spiritual man, between light and darkness; and here too man becomes victorious. He, as it were, cuts his way out of nature to freedom.
- Vivekananda, in Complete Works, Volume 2 (1963), p. 104.
- Theories had been propounded and repeated, others had been taken up, until at last the idea of Maya became fixed. We read in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, "Know nature to be Maya and the Ruler of this Maya is the Lord Himself." Coming to our philosophers, we find that this word Maya has been manipulated in various fashions, until we come to the great Shankaracharya.
- Vivekananda, in Vedanta: voice of freedom, p. 134.
- The theory of Maya was manipulated a little by the Buddhists too, but in the hands of the Buddhists it became very much like what is called Idealism, and that is the meaning that is now generally given to the word Maya.
- Vivekananda, in The Vedanta Kesari, Volume 49, p. 370.
The Hindu Mind: Fundamentals of Hindu Religion and Philosophy for All Ages
Bansi Pandit The Hindu Mind: Fundamentals of Hindu Religion and Philosophy for All Ages (1 January 2001)
- Maya, one of the key terms in Hindu religious tradition, is used in various connotations, implying a principle, power or process. Since in Hindu view non-existence can never be the source of creation (just as a plant can never sprout without a seed), maya is the metaphysical principle that is used in Hindu religion to explain the projection of the phenomenal world by Brahman.
- Bansi Pandit, in p. 61.
- In Hindu view, the cause of human birth is not Original Sin (from Christian doctrine), but the original ignorance called maya. The difference between these two concepts is that the Original Sin is a moral error whereas the original ignorance (maya) is the lack of the right knowledge of the Ultimate Reality, a metaphysical error.
- Bansi Pandit, in p. 120.
- There are two predominant views among Hindu scholars relating to the concept of maya. In some philosophical systems, maya refers to the mysterious power (or the cosmic energy) of the Supreme Being with which he projects the universe from Himself. Because of maya things and beings are brought into existence, incarnations are born, humans play their roles on the stage of life, and the divine play of life (leela) continues age after age.
- Bansi Pandit, in p. 61.
- In other philosophical systems including Advaita Vedanta, maya is thought of as cosmic illusion or ignorance (avidya) that deludes the atman into forgetting its own divine nature. This forgetfulness of its true nature further causes the atman to mistakenly identify itself with the body and mind, assume individuality, and thus subject itself to the physical limitations in the phenomenal world (samsara).
- Bansi Pandit, in p. 61.
- Maya is nothing but the egotism of the embodied Atman. This egotism has covered everything like a veil. All troubles come to an end when the ego dies. This maya, that is to say, the ego, is like a cloud. The sun cannot be seen on account of a thin patch of cloud; when that disappears one sees the sun. If by grace of the guru one’s ego vanishes, then one sees God.
- Ramakrishna, p. 62.
- Prakriti and maya are similar concepts. Prakriti is the primal matter with the qualities of sattva, rajas, and tamas, whereas maya is cosmic ignorance with the triple powers of satva rajas and tamas.
- Ramakrishna, in p. 62.
- The Hindu theory of reincarnation is based upon four basic principles: permanence of the atman, existence of maya (the original ignorance), liberation (moksha) of the atman from samsara and the law of Karma.
- Bansi Pandit, in p. 117.
- According to the most Hindu representative view, the atman, when associated with a physical body, identifies itself with the body under the influence of maya. Maya is the cosmic illusion or the original ignorance.
- Bansi Pandit, p. 119.
- I am not manifest to all, being veiled by yoga-maya and its delusion the world knows Me not, the unborn and immutable (BG 7.25).
- Sri Krishna speaks of its power in the Bhagavat Gita: quoted by Bansi Pandit, in p. 119
- Under the influence of maya, the atman forgets its divine nature, identifies itself with the body and mind, assumes individuality and thus enjoys pleasures and suffers pain in the world. Maya has two powers: the power of veiling the Ultimate Reality, and the power of falsely projecting the Ultimate Reality as something else. These dual powers of maya create a mirage-like effect, similar to falsely identifying a rope as a snake in dull light or mistaking sand for water in a desert. Under the influence of maya, the atman does not change, but forgets its divine nature and becomes apart of the phenomenal world, which is also projected by maya.
- Bansi Pandit, in p. 119.
Krishna: A Sourcebook
Edwin Francis Bryant, in Krishna: A Sourcebook 2007
- Maya has another face in the Bhagavata, however. This role of maya is especially discernible under the name Yogmaya, which occurs in the context of Krishna’s lila. Yogmaya covers the pure liberated souls in the lila and her power of illusion, such that they are unaware of Krishna’s real nature and thus relate to him not as God but rather as their friend, lover or child, and so on.
- In Bhagavata, quoted in “Krishna: A Sourcebook”, p. 116.
- Everything other than Vasudeva, since it is a product of maya, is not real. Vasudeva alone is real, is the dearest because He is the Self.
- Bhaktirasyana, in p. 324.
- The external potency of maya has two divisions. Jiva-maya, the potency that obscures the pure consciousness of the jiva; and guna-maya the potency that manifests the material world.
- Jiva Goswami, in p. 380.
- I am a sinner who was blinded by maya that I did battle with the Supreme Lord. Miserable me....Save me! Save me!
- Indra, the demi god’s confession and prayer before Lord Krishna, in p. 184.
- Made blind by your maya, I did a great wrong in fighting you
Forgive this crime of mine, I fall at your feet.
Purge me of my evil-mindedness,
I will follow the path of devotion to you.
- Indra's prayers to Lord Krishna in p. 184.
- He is the master magician (mayavin), Krishna is in the final analysis...Himself … a product of this maya.
- Julian F.Woods, p. 7.