[Advaita-l] Advaithic Question on the Nature of MAYA and Illusory nature of Reality

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Aug 28 10:30:17 EDT 2020

It is very likely that this post will not be delivered because of 'length'
reasons.  Hence, it is posted in Advaita google groups too.

On Fri, Aug 28, 2020 at 2:08 PM Sadananda Chandrashekaraiah via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Hi all knowledgeable people,
> I have a question to clarify,
> "" How does Maya project Brahman as this illusory Universe ? What is the
> mechanism by which this illusion is created.""
> In the path of enquiry I am currently in this stage where I am not
> satisfied with the answer ' it just appears as it is'. Even for water to
> appear in a gaseous state the inherent energy levels within molecules have
> to be high enough to be sparse apart to appear as vapours and the contrary
> in ice cubes. If we take this as an example, even for something to appear
> in different states it has to undergo some process like solidification or
> gasification like in this case.
> I just want to understand the visible universe with more coherent
> explanation than it just appears as it.
> Can someone knowledgeable give me some layman's explanation on this doubt ?

As per Advaita, if anyone is able to 'coherently' explain Maya and the way
the world is created, then it is no longer Maya.  The idea is: It is
impossible to 'logically' explain the world appearance. Even those who do
not want to use the world 'maya' are left with no alternative to use words
like 'achintya shakti, Ishwa icchaa' etc. in lieu of the word 'maya' just
to avoid being called 'Mayavadin' although those words too amount to the
same. Swami Vidyaranya has dealt with this topic in detail in the 6th
Chapter of the Panchadashi:

प्रसरन्ति हि चोद्यानि जगद्वस्तुत्ववादिषु ।
न चोदनीयं मायायां तस्याच्चोद्यैकरूपतः ॥ १३७॥

चोद्येऽपि यदि चोद्यं स्यात्तच्चोद्ये चोद्यते मया ।
परिहार्यं ततश्चोद्यं न पुनः प्रतिचोद्यताम् ॥ १३८॥

विस्मयैकशरीराया मायायाश्चोद्यरूपतः ।
अन्वेष्यः परिहारोऽस्या बुद्धिमद्भिः प्रयत्नतः ॥ १३९॥

मायात्वमेव निश्चेयमिति चेत्तर्हि निश्चिनु ।
लोकप्रसिद्धमायाया लक्षणं यत्तदीक्ष्यताम् ॥ १४०॥

न निरूपयितुं शक्या विस्पष्टं भासते च या ।
सा मायेतीन्द्रजालादौ लोकाः सम्प्रतिपेदिरे ॥ १४१॥

स्पष्टं भाति जगच्चेदमशक्यं तन्निरूपणम् ।
मायामयं जगत्तस्मादीक्षस्वापक्षपाततः ॥ १४२॥

निरूपयितुमारब्धे निखिलैरपि पण्डितैः ।
अज्ञानं पुरतस्तेषां भाति कक्षासु कासुचित् ॥ १४३॥

देहेन्द्रियादयो भावा वीर्येणोत्पादिताः कथम् ।
कथं वा तत्र चैतन्यमित्युक्ते ते किमुत्तरम् ॥ १४४॥

वीर्यस्यैष स्वभावश्चेत्कथं तद्विदितं त्वया ।
अन्वयव्यतिरेकौ यौ भग्नौ तौ व्यर्थवीर्यतः ॥ १४५॥

न जानामि किमप्येतदित्यन्ते शरणं तव ।
अत एव महन्तोऽस्याः प्रवदन्तीन्द्रजालताम् ॥ १४६॥

एतस्मान्किमिवेन्द्रजालमपरं यद्गर्भवासस्थितम्
रेतश्चेतति हस्तमस्तकपदं प्रोद्भूतनानाङ्कुरम् ।
पर्यायेण शिशुत्वयौवनजरारोगैरनेकैर्वृतम्
पश्यत्यत्ति श‍ृणोति जिघ्रति तथा गच्छत्यथागच्छति ॥ १४७॥

देहवद्वटधानादौ सुविचार्यावलोक्यताम् ।
क्व धाना कुत्र वा वृक्षस्तस्मान्मायेति निश्चिनु ॥ १४८॥

निरुक्तावभिमानं ये दधते तार्किकादयः ।
हर्षमिश्रादिभिस्ते तु खण्डनादौ सुशिक्षिताः ॥ १४९॥

अचिन्त्याः खलु ये भावा न तांस्तर्केषु योजयेत् ।
अचिन्त्यरचनारूपं मनसापि जगत्खलु ॥ १५०॥

अचिन्त्यरचनाशक्तिबीजं मायेति निश्चिनु ।
मायाबीजं तदेवैकं सुषुप्तावनुभूयते ॥ १५१॥

जाग्रत्स्वप्नजगत्तत्र लीनं बीज इव द्रुमः ।
तस्मादशेषजगतो वासनास्तत्र संस्थिताः ॥ १५२॥

A translation of the above (not verified by me thoroughly):

136. The magic show looks wonderful and inexplicable as long as the
magician is not directly known, but when the magician is so known, the
magic show is known as such and is no longer wonderful.

137. Those who believe in the reality of the world regard the effects of
Maya as wonderful. But since the nature of Maya itself is astonishing, one
need not wonder at its power.

138. By raising objections to the wonderfulness of Maya we do not solve the
mystery. Besides, we also can raise serious counter objections. What is
essential is that we should eradicate Maya by systematic enquiry. Further
arguments are useless, so do not indulge in them.

139. Maya is an embodiment of marvellousness and doubt; the wise must
carefully find out means and make effort to remove it.

140. (Doubt): But the nature of Maya must be determined before trying to
eradicate it. (Reply): All right, do so ! Apply the popular definition of
magic on Maya.

141. People understand that to be Maya which though clearly seen is at the
same time beyond all determination, as in the case of magic.

142. The world is clearly seen, but its nature defies definition. Be
impartial, and regard the world as nothing but a delusion, the product of

143. Even if all the learned people of the world try to determine the
nature of this world, they will find themselves confronted at some stage or
other by ignorance.

144. Tell us, if you can, how the body and senses came out of the seed, or
how consciousness was born in the foetus. What answers will you give to
these questions ?

145. (The naturalist says): It is the nature of the seed to evolve into the
body with the sense-organs and so forth. (Reply): What is the basis of your
belief ? You will perhaps say, application of the double method of
agreement and difference. But it is not confirmed because in a barren woman
seed produces nothing.

146. In the end you will have to say, 'I do not know'. Therefore the wise
declare this world to be like a magic show.

147. What can be more magical than the fact that the seed in the uterus
becomes a conscious individual, that it develops head, hands, feet and
other organs, that it passes through the states of childhood, youth and old
age and that it perceives, eats, smells, hears, comes and goes ?

148. Like the human body carefully consider also a tiny fig seed. How
different the tree is from the seed from which it grows ! Therefore know
all this to be Maya.

149. The logicians and others, proud of their dialectical ability, may feel
satisfied with their logical explanations; but the philosopher Sri Harsha
Mishra has exposed the error of their positions in his classic 'Khandana'

150. Things that are inconceivable should not be subjected to canons of
logic; and this world is one such, for the mind cannot conceive of the very
mode of its creation.

151. Be convinced that Maya is the cause of this world, whose comprehension
surpasses the imagination. In the state of deep sleep we are partly aware
of this Maya, the seed of this world.

152. As the tree is latent in the seed, so the waking and dreaming worlds
are implicit in deep sleep. Similarly, the impressions of the entire
universe are latent in Maya.

153. On the impressions of the whole world, thus latent in the intellect
(during sleep) is reflected the immutable consciousness. Though it is not
experienced owing to vagueness it can be inferred to exist, in the same way
as the reflection of the sky is inferred to exist in the water-particles of
a cloud.

154. This seed, the Maya, in association with the reflection of
consciousness, which is not fully grasped, develops into the intellect; and
in this intellect, the reflection of consciousness becomes plainly visible
as the ego.

155. It is said by the Shruti that Jiva and Ishvara are creations of Maya,
being reflections of Atman in it. Ishvara is like the reflection of the sky
in the cloud; Jiva is like the reflection of the sky in water.

156. Maya is comparable to a cloud and the mental impressions in the Buddhi
are like the water-particles which make up the cloud. The reflected
consciousness in Maya is like the sky reflected in the water-particles of
the cloud.

157. Shruti says that this (pure universal) consciousness reflected in Maya
is Ishvara which controls Maya as well. The great Ishvara is the inner
ruler, omniscient and cause of the universe.

158. The Shruti, in the passage beginning with 'the consciousness in the
deep sleep' and ending in 'He is the Lord of all' describes this 'sheath of
bliss' as the Ishvara. [Mandukya Upanishad: 5-6; Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:

159. The omniscience and other properties of the bliss sheath are not to be
questioned, because the assertions of the Shruti are beyond dispute and
because everything is possible in Maya.

160. Since nobody has the power to alter the world of waking and dream
states which are projected from the bliss-sheath, it is proper to call it
the Lord of all.
After saying this, he gives an account of the scriptural process of the
world appearance in the states of waking, etc.


> Regards,
> Sadananda Chandrashekaraiah
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