Thursday, June 22, 2006

Maya maya ellam ChAya??

Sri gurubhyo namaha.
If I had a cent (a rupee would do too) for each time I have heard it mentioned that all of this universe/creation is pure 'Maya' (Illusory), I would be next only to Kubera on the rich list! It is an altogether too common perspective/stand taken by the vedantis - so common infact that most Hindus today believe such a statement to have come from the Vedas. The term 'Maya' is used as casually as the word ' hallucination' when trying to talk of processes that are too complicated to deal with when using the right brain. When in an arguement/debate the vedantis cant hold their train of thought, the mighty hand of Maya is evoked to silence all further debate on the subject.
I, the mooligaisidhan however, ask you to ponder on this -
The exponents of Mayavada (the doctrine of Maya) hold that all of this creation is Illusory - that is there is never any of all this manifold universe we 'see', 'feel' and 'live in' day after day after day. They argue that all this is just one big illusion. Like how a house built in one's dream is not 'real' anymore upon wakeing, so too is the nature of this universe. The only 'real' thing according to them is the Supreme Brahman - so the Brahman is defined Sat Chit Ananda(eternal,consiousness,bliss). Everything else is just a dream waiting to dissolve when the 'avidya' or ignorance principle is rooted out. They also quote scriptures (Vedas) of authority to further strengthen their stand.
However, when one starts to analyze such a statement (as the followers of Sankya did), it becomes clear that such a view is meaningless. Here is how the theory of the illusory nature of this universe cannot be true -
* For a start the Vedas declare that the Brahman is 'real' (the only reality) and this is universally accepted by both the tantrika and the vaidika schools of thought. Then it is also declared in the Vedas that the universe is a manifestation of Brahman (refer to such verses as: He then desired, may I be many; the crores of universes were manifested from Brahman; He made man in His own image,etc) and this is also accepeted by all without dispute. So, if Brahman (who is real) created the universe out of itself, should not the universe too be real?? Infact, how could it be anything BUT real? As is made clear in the rule of the pot and clay - i.e just like the pot (product) that is made out of clay (the material cause) bears the charecteristics of the clay it is made of (though the clay is visible in the form of a pot, it still remains clay) both when being a pot and even after ceasing to be a pot (that is, when the pot is broken down it becomes clay again). Similarly, it is automatically evident that the universe (which is a product) is as real as the Brahman (the cause). Which is why the tantrika percieves this universe to be 'real', there is no doubt in fact in his mind as to the nature of this universe (it is REAL).
This point is further illuminated by the following aphorism - Then, if the one does not exist, the other does not exist, there is a void. (Sankya 1.42)
This means, if external things do not exist, then a mere void offers itself. Why so?Because, if the external does not exist, then thought does not exist; for it is intuition that proves the objective: and, if the intuition of the external did not establish the objective, then the intuition of thought, also, would not establish [the existence of] thought.
Perhaps the Maya vadin would refute the above view by saying, only the void is the reality (shunya theory). Further adding that everything that exists perishes, and all that which perishes is false, like the dream. The counter arguement for that will be - the reason assigned for the perishableness of everything that exists is that, to perish is the nature of things, but nothing continues, after quitting its own nature. Meaning, nothing can continue, if it ceased to perish:)

On deeper analysis it becomes evident that 'Maya' refers not to the nature of this manifold creation, but to the perception of duality in this universe. It is that perception of duality (of the knower and the known, of the creator and the created,etc) which is the illusion. The shakti called Maya is the basis of this perception of multiplicity as the mother of pearl is the basis of silver (illusorily percieved - i.e, when seen from a distance the shining shell of the mother of pearl resembles silver, but on closer examination we find it is only the shell). Refer also the name 735 (mithyaajagadhisthana) - meaning, the basis of the illusory universe. And the same truth is echoed in the Devi Bagavatham : '' Indeed, I am alone all this, there is never any other''.

This world is real. The universe is real. It is in the nature of the supreme Brahman. You, are no different, no less real than this Brahman. For there can be nothing apart from it.


Anand said...

perception of duality - it is indeed a great topic to be discussed upon. If we can overcome the perception of multiplicity then dont we discover self, BABA.

arvindiyer said...

Arohara baba, Well am sure you would have been a rich man by now from the number of times sashi says the lines!!

" Indeed, I am alone all this, there is never any other''. These lines are awesome.

mooligai sidhan said...

Boom. Anandaa,the 'perception of duality' is meant to describe the following - it is the perception of the difference between the worshiper and the object worshiped. In the external worship, the devotee percieves the devi or any other god for that matter to be as different to his self.Hence the offerings and mantras etc are offered to this seperate being.But when the devotee is able to percive the devi or any other god in the heart by dissolving all differences between himself and the deity,then the underlying essence of oneness is percieved. In other words, instead of the self being discovered as a result of overcoming this 'perception of duality', this 'perception of duality' is dissolved when the nature of the self is understood!
As the real nature of the self is the same as the supreme Brahman, and it is accepted that the Brahman is the only 'reality' - the perception of duality merely ceases to exist there(as All is Devi).boom.

mooligai sidhan said...

Arohara, Arvind! Indeed, She is All.

nivedita said...


can maya be the veil of emotions through which we percieve day to day life?

for instance, we may view a certain piece of art at a point in time thinking it is grotesque or garrulous only to find the same piece of art being wonderful at another point of time...

the piece of art is the same. only, our perceptions change, leaving a chasm between the true meaning of that work of art and our minds... these perceptions, then, are they maya?

mooligai sidhan said...

Hi Nivedita,
Maya is something that preceeds emotions, thoughts, perceptions and anything else. According to the shakta/tantrika tradition, Maya is the shakti of Devi that was the first to manifest. Maya is a postive power (a shakti)of incredible importance. It is only due the power and influence of Maya that the endless universes appear and it due to Her again that they disappear (temporarily).
For, as we discussed above, if All is the Supreme Brahman (which is the only thing), then how would it be possible for that ONE thing to become manifest as the endless forms and shapes we see in the seven worlds?? The power that transforms that One being into many many beings (both sentient and not)is Maya.Without Her there would be no creation, no energising,nothing.
Compare this power of Maya to the skill and artistic ability of the goldsmith who transforms the one thing (namely gold)into the several stunning creations like the earrings, necklace, ring, bangles and so on. They are all made from the same material cause (gold) yet they differ in the realms of form, name and effect.How could that be possible??
This shakti called Maya is next only to the supreme Devi - even the Hiranyagarbha creation (namely the gods and goddess)are under the influence of this Maya. The preserver Vishnu, sleeps for eons in the middle of the oceans that have deluged entire world systems, on the bed of Adishesha (the 1000 headed snake), influenced by the power of this shakti called Maya.
Further meaning can be found when we look into the story of Vishnu's terrible war with the daityas Madhu and Kaitabha. Perhaps, thats for another day.

Srividya Srinivasan said...

is adwaitha really possible ? Truly ? For even that tiniest fraction of time if it does, would not it be truly the most magnificient experience as all dualities merge seamlessly right from the largest to the tinest i.e the proton and the electron to the entire cosmos which is held in balance due to duality loses itself ? What a thought !!

mooligai sidhan said...

@ srividya
''Is adwaitha really possible?'' - adwaitha is the very nature of everything!! I presume you mean to ask is perception of this non duality possible? If that be the question, I would answer yes!! However, I have to caution you here that at this place I am relying on the authority of the vedas and pramanas and the words of those who have acchieved the transcendence to percive the essential non duality of things - I have yet to experience that seamless merging personally!
The concept of non duality is a transcendental one and is thus probably best experienced in states of samadhi. As otherwise, there is almost always fragments of vikalpas (mental modifications)however subtle and minute they may be. At the very core, the experience of this type of merger with 'everything' will automatically 'end' the world experience. As the world appearance and the subsequent experience in that world are products of shakti called Maya. She is like a veil that 'reveals' what is not by 'veiling' what really is in a multicolour coat that dazzles and confuses even the Gods!
back to the question though - yes, such a loss of duality is almost certainly possible and the hindu system incorporates many methods to acchieve, cultivate and sustain this oneness.