mAyA (Was Mind and the Intellect (fwd))

S. V. Subrahmanian svsubrahmanian at YAHOO.COM
Sun Jan 6 06:41:16 CST 2002

Sri Jaldhar Vyas:

>The world is real, the world _appearence_ is misunderstood due to ignorance.

The word that is used for expressing this is "mityA".  mityA is anirvachanIyam
ie., that which cannot be categorically stated.  Why is it so?

sat chet na bAdheta - What is real cannot be negated (ex: one's self)
asat chet na pratyEta - What is unreal cannot be perceived (ex: hare's horn)

That being the case jagat is neither real nor unreal since it is both perceived
and can be negated.  That is why they use the word mityA to describe this.

> > Etymologically Maya is that which measures.

> That doesn't sound right to me though I'll have to find where I put my
> Amarakosha to know for sure.

yA mA sA mAyA - that which does not exist is called mAyA.  In Sankaran thought,
mAyA is also negated as mityA.

mAyA is model primarily used to "explain away" the jagat since in ajAtivAda,
there is no creation at all.  A popular story is quoted to explain the
usefulness of mAyA.

There was a man who owned 17 elephants.  He had 3 sons.  He told his first son,
you will get half of the elephants.  He told the second son, you will get
one-third of the elephants and he told the third son, you will get one-ninth my
property.  Saying so he died.  The three sons quarreled with each other as they
could not decided as to how to divide the property.  A wise man came and heard
the problem. He said he would solve the problem.  He brought another elephant
and said it was a gift from him to the sons and added that to make 18
elephants.  Now they divided the property between themselves.  The first one
got 9, second 6 and the third 2.  Thus the divided they 17 elephants properly.
The 18th was left over and the wise man took it back.

Thus Sankara uses mAyA as a tool to explain the jagat.  Once the jagat is
explained using mAyA, he finally negates the ontological status of mAyA itself
and thus one is left with brahman only.

This is my understanding (as of today -:))


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