[Advaita-l] What is Maya?

savithri devaraj savithri_devaraj at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 2 12:43:33 CST 2008

Namaste Sri Ramakrishna,

Thanks for bringing this example up.

I read this example many years ago for the first time in Sacchidanandendra Saraswati Swamiji explanation of how Shastras are instrumental to reach the goal, and how it is transcended and useless after jnAna. This is a great example of how shastras are the antya pramANa.

Can you please tell me the source of this example, viz, is it from any of the upanishads, etc?


----- Original Message ----
From: Krishnamurthy Ramakrishna <puttakrishna at verizon.net>
To: Sharath T Poojary <sharat4u1 at rediffmail.com>; A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Sent: Wednesday, January 2, 2008 11:15:45 AM
Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] What is Maya?

Sharath wrote on Jan. 2nd - "Can someone tell how the ONLY BRAHMAN "becomes"
of "mistaken" (so to say)as Maya, when there is nothing else?"

Brahman is not mistaken as Maya; Maya is a power that makes Brahman 
being seen as jagat. I read a very simple story to illustrate the
concept of Maya which goes like this....
A farmer having three sons, dies leaving a will. The will reads that 
- Half of his property should go to the first son
- one third of the property should go to the second son
- one ninth of his property should go to the last son.

The children were worried, because the farmer's property consisted of
17 cows - how to divide the 17 cows per the will?
A sage passing by came to their rescue. He said, he will add his one cow to
help them divide the property. With the sage's cow, there are 18 cows.
- The first son takes nine (9) cows - 1/2 of 18
- The second son takes six (6) cows - 1/3 of 18
- The third son was given two (2) cow - 1/9 of 18
In all 17 cows were given away to the three sons - 9+6+2
The sage walks back with his single cow.
Maya makes us see something that does not exist. Does Maya really exist?
"sannApyasannApya ubhayAtmikA no
bhinnApyabhinnApya ubhayAtmikA no
sAngApyanangApya ubhayAtmikA no
mahAdbhuta anirvachanIya rUpa  .......VivEka chUDAmaNi (verse 111)
- It is not real, it is not unreal, not both, It is not different,
it is not non-different, not both, It is not with parts, it is not
without parts, not both. It is very wonderful and of form which is

In the story example above, did the 18th cow exist? Was it different?; 
It appeared to exist, and different but did not exist in the dividing among
the brothers.

K. Ramakrishna

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