Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century


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Definition - Prof. V. Krishnamurthy

I know mAyA cannot be confined to just a short note as a weekly definition. I was wondering what I should do. I recalled the following imaginary conversation Sridhar and I had with mAyA long ago (#20708, of Jan.2004 and its sequel), when, lo and behold! MayA Devi was right there before me. Her face was a little blurred, so I can't describe it to you. But the profile was so clear that it could be only Her Majesty, the Empress of the whole Universe. She had a bewitching, at the same time enchantingly mischievous, smile; but that is what I thought, because the blurred face defied any precise description. But what was more thrilling, was that She Herself started to talk! Here is the verbatim report.


M: mAyA Devi;
K: Krishnamurthy

M: Are you surprised?

K: Is it You, Mother MAyA Devi?

M: Don't you recognise Me?

K: What? Recognize? Have I seen you, before?

M: You are seeing me all the time.

K: You mean I am seeing the world all the time?

M: You are a member of advaitin list, even a moderator; what else do you expect?

K: Mother, please don't quiz me. Please give us a message.

M: You folks are flooding yourselves with messages all the time. Many of you don't even read them. And you want me to add my message to all that?

K: How else do we understand your mysterious ways?

M: What are you all going to do after that understanding?

K: Well... I thought that would open for us the gate to mokSha; would it not?

M: Have I not made Krishna tell you , "my mAyA is difficult to transcend"?

K: Then, how are we ever to get at the root of the matter?

M: Again you are only showing your scholarship. What do you mean by `root of the matter'?

K: I meant: `the rock bottom fundamental principle, without which nothing works'.

M: But you know it is within you yourself and you are not supposed to search outside.

K: Mother, I am not competent to win you over in any argument or debate. Tell me clearly what is it that I should be doing, if I want to reach The Ultimate. Why is it you are playing tricks with us, even when we are all honestly seeking Truth?

M: I am not playing tricks with you. It is you folks who have studied too much without giving yourself the time to pause to think about what you have studied. Many a time I have shown you all, both in your personal lives and in your professional lives, that you cannot win.

K: Yes, I understand. I do keep telling that to my audience whenever I talk or write to them. But somehow, when it finally comes to counting my marbles, I am helpless and I would like to be one up! Why is it so, Mother?

M: That is exactly what I am telling you. You may want to be one up against others like you in this world. You will learn that is the wrong path in its own due course. But when you want to be one up against Me and My ways, you are totally mistaken; and that is where I show up. And the only force, if at all, that will help you against my powers, is the Grace of the Lord God. If you rely on your own capabilities more than your reliance on God, you are already in My clutches.

K: I don't understand what you mean by `being one up against You'. I don't think I have ever done that.

M: Well, that is what you think. Every time you people want to define good and evil in precise terms, that is what you are doing. The tangled knot of life is not to be cut into an unquestionable single law of truth and falsehood. Dharma must be sought not by rejecting ignorance or falsehood, but rather through them in tapasya, strength, energy and purifications. Whenever you shortcut this trodden path and plan to arrive at the destination quickly, you are trying to be `one up against Me'!

K: Mother, it is all confusing. May I pray to you to lead me out of this confusion?

M: Don't pray to Me. I am not here or anywhere. Actually I am not what I am. I am a non-being. Pray to the Being that always is.

(And the apparition was gone!)


With this `conversation' at the back of my mind, let me now write what I have comprehended over the years about the incomprehensible.

Encountering mAyA means contending with all the following eight intangibles:

1. Her Incomprehensibility.

2. Her Miraculousness.

3. Her Infinite Power.

4. Her Intranscendability.

5. Her Universality.

6. Her Omnipresence.

7. Her Ordained Subordinateness.

8. Her Non-existing Existence.

MAyA is incomprehensible. That is why all Masters say: Don't try to understand mAyA with your intellect. Pray for transcending the effects of mAyA with the help of the Supreme Presence in you.

MAyA is miraculous. She can perform all the miracles of Nature as well as all the miracles that appear to mystify our scientific understanding. She can hide what is Real but She can also make the non-real appear as real.

MAyA's power is limitless. Even the great Sages who by the severity of their penances acquire wonderful powers either by yoga-siddhi or simply by the Grace of the Supreme have been known to have succumbed to the effects of mAyA. Even the good things that happen to us can draw us into the vortex of mAyA.

MAyA is intranscendable, meaning, She is known to have been the cause of all effects. So long as we are in the world of effects, which we always are, we are not one with the Cause of all causes. The attractions towards sense-objects is what makes us stay in the world of effects. This attraction is nothing but mAyA.

MAyA is universal, in the sense that without mAyA there is nothing that exists, nothing that existed, nothing that will exist.

MAyA is omnipresent almost as the Supreme Reality Itself. One is mistaken for the other; this is our second nature.

MAyA has been ordained to be subordinate to the Supreme and only to the Supreme.

YA mA sA mAyA – this is the definition of mAyA. What does not exist (absolutely) is mAyA.

Advaita recognises the truth of all the above eight. The esoteric meaning of Gita (VII – 4) indicates it. The non-advaitins, in their attempts to establish something other than advaita have always to negate one or more of the above. And in doing this, they fall into the trap of one or more of the same mAyA, which they try to negate. For example, some question the locus of the operation of mAyA. But `operation' is an effect. And, as we saw above, mAyA transcends all effects. Some others seek authority for the statements about mAyA. Expressing authority through word of mouth or by writing is itself a mAyic action and so one commits the error of self- reference. Others think that release from the world of mAyA is to go to a different world of existence with the divines. Not at all. The final release is to be relieved of the bondage of mAyA. It can happen in this world itself.

Others think that Brahman has transformed Itself into this universe which is distinct from It. It is the miracle of mAyA that makes Brahman appear as this universe while Brahman still remains unchanged. Not only Brahman appears as this universe but also as the individual jIva-s, each with a separate inner organ. Further, there are thousand other things which happen according to the rules of cause and effect. The affairs of this universe are happening in spite of us according to some schedule chalked out for them. If we observe all this carefully, maybe from the absolute point of view everything is mAyA but in the mundane world of daily parlance there is an admirable order that must have been initiated or chalked out by a very powerful force, far more powerful than all the powers that we know. That power is what is called Ishvara (God). And this Ishvara is taken by some to be itself the effect of mAyA. They ignore the fact that mAyA is subordinate to that very Ishvara, who from the absolute point of view may however not be absolute! It is Brahman, that, appearing to be in association with mAyA, is the Ishvara who monitors and manages both the universe and the jIva-s. All this world of jIva-s rolls about under His control. When that is so, for us to transcend this curtain of mAyA, and to get out also of His control so that we may realize the Brahman that is the core of Him as well as us, is not possible without the sanction of that power, namely Ishvara. In other words only by the Grace of Ishvara can our mind be overcome and Brahman-realization can happen. We may be subject to the whims and fancies of mAyA but He is in total control of it. So even when He `does' so many activities under the guise of mAyA, He is always the actionless Brahman . Thus even if we aim at the mAyA-associated Almighty, he absorbs us into the Brahman that has no trace of mAyA.

Except for those rare ones whose good saMskAra from previous lives is really strong, all others are just unable to think seriously of getting themselves out of the rut of worldly activities and of the pulls and pushes of the mind. This mind itself is the creation of mAyA.

Brahman which is the same as Atman is the only thing which is untouched by mAyA. Even a little mixture of mAyA will make it different. Ishvara Himself has such a mixture of mAyA. The universe which is totally mixed with that mAyA is being administered by that Ishvara, who has mAyA with him (mAyA-sahita IshvaraH). Brahman does not do any such thing as administration of the universe. Brahman has nothing to do with the universe or its affairs. Of course it is the substratum, basis of the universe; but from that Brahman it was mAyA that produced the vision of the universe. Brahman is not related to the universe.

PraNAms to all advaitins.
PraNAms to the Controller of mAyA.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012