THE WEB OF MAYA IN OUR LIVES

In our lives we encounter Maya and carried away by it. We base our decisions and steer the course of our lives believing the existence of the Maya. To understand Maya, I referred to the following story in  Hindu mythology which may kindle some interest.

Once Sarvalok Sanchari Naradha asked Lord Krishna to let him know what Maya is. Krishna did not give any reply. After some days Lord Krishna took Naradha through a dry forest.They walked for several miles. During this travel Krishna became thirsty and requested Naradha to fetch some water for him to drink. Naradha agreed and went in search of water. He reached a a small village at some distance. There he knocked at the door of a hut. A beautiful young woman opened the door. On looking at her Naradha totally forgot the purpose of his visit to the village.He started speaking with her and later fell in love with that young woman.Naradha requested that girl’s father to get the girl married to him and with his consent he married the young woman and the marriage consummated with the birth of three children. Thus twelve years passed. Naradha became the heir to the properties of his father in law and Naradha was under the impression that he was living happily with his family and properties.

One day there was a great flood in the river adjoining the village, which severed the banks and entered the village and washed away the houses,huts and cattles. Naradha tried to cross the shallow waters of the flooded river along with his family , by holding his wife with one hand and holding the two children with the other hand and keeping the third child in his shoulder . Suddenly the intensity of the flood increased and the child on his shoulder was washed away.He lost the other two children also in his attempt to save the third child. Later his wife was also washed away when the water current intensified. With great difficulty Naradha swam to safety and reached the bank of the river and started crying for having lost his wife and children. Suddenly he heard a voice calling from behind .” Hi, Son where is the water ? Atleast 1 ½ hours have passed since I asked you to fetch water.” The bewildered Naradha turned and Lord Krishna was standing there. He told Krishna.”Oh Lord, I totally forgot about my errand to get some water.Did it take just 1 ½ hours since the time I left to fetch water ?“ and Krishna replied “YES”. All memories of his life as a Family man for 12 years flashed in the mind of Naradha. Then Krishna said “This is Maya”.

Like the legendary Mandrake the Magician, who saves the citizens from mobsters and fight crime with his mass hypnotism and creates illusions, Lord Krishna also created the illusion to teach Naradha about Maya.Of course the momentary illusion of Mandrake is no match for the Maya created by Lord Krishna.

A comparison of this Maya with the Maya in election scenario reminded me of the elections to the 15th Lok Sabha which is is drawing closer. The Indian politics continue to be under the political ‘maya’ and promise to take care of the needs of the people. Behind the veil of Maya, violence and damage to person and property through the length and breadth of the country,goes unabated with indirect support from the so called politicians, whose aim is to come to or come back to power at any cost. Even though Election Commission appointed observers to monitor the expenditure some section of the press have reported about the novel method adopted by the political parties. It has reported that the major Political parties field a number of dummy candidates in each constituency so that they can split the votes,or confuse the voters with candidates with names sounding similar to the popular candidate, and they can also circumvent the expenditure limit of Rs 25 lakhs per candidate prescribed by the Election commission and also get more election agents to be present in the election booth, who take advantage of the situation in canvassing .

I am also reminded of the Song in the Tamil Movie “BABA”,in which Super Star Rajnikanth plays the role of Baba and describes “what is Maya” in his song “Maya Maya Ellam Maya, Chaya Chaya Ellam Chaya”. Which means “Everything is an illusion,Everything is a shadow, Lead a life like a droplet of water on the surface of a Lotus leaf.” One should not give much importance to the wordly pleasures and material comforts in his life time and gets attached and lay bound by them. There should be detachment in attachments. Every body should realize that happiness is in our hands. Therefore try to derive the best from the present, forgetting the past which had already gone and the future which is yet to come. We should not forget that today’s events were yesterday’s future and today’s events are tomorrow’s past.

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One Response to “THE WEB OF MAYA IN OUR LIVES”

  1. Niranjan Says:

    Maya is one of the most difficult to comprehend concepts in our scriptures. In Hinduism, Maya is to be seen through, like an epiphany, in order to achieve moksha (liberation of the soul from the cycle of samsara). Ego and karma are seen as part of the binding forces of Maya. Maya may be understood as the phenomenal Universe of perceived duality, a lesser reality-lens superimposed on the unity of Brahman.

    The concept of Maya was introduced in written form by Sri Adi Shankara. Many philosophies or religions seek to “pierce the veil” of Maya in order to glimpse the transcendent truth, from which the illusion of a physical reality springs, drawing from the idea that first came to life in the Hindu stream of Vedanta.

    Maya is neither true nor untrue. Since Brahman is the only truth, Maya cannot be true. Since Maya causes the material world to be seen, it cannot be untrue. Hence, Maya is described as indescribable. It has two principle functions — one is to veil Brahman and obscure and conceal it from our consciousness. The other is to present and promulgate the material world and the veil of duality instead of Brahman. The veil of Maya is piercable and with diligence and grace, may be permanently rent.

    Consider an illusion of a rope being confused as a snake in the darkness. Just as this illusion gets destroyed when true knowledge of the rope is perceived, similarly, Maya gets destroyed for a person when they perceive Brahman with transcendental knowledge. A metaphor is also given — when the reflection of Brahman falls on Maya, Brahman appears as God (the Supreme Lord). Pragmatically, where the duality of the world is regarded as true, Maya becomes the divine magical power of the Supreme Lord. Maya is the veritable fabric of duality and she performs this role at the behest of the Supreme Lord. God is not bound by Maya, just as magicians are not illusioned and deluded by their own magic.

    It is not just Hinduism but Sikhism and Buddhism have equivalent concepts though not by the same name. Interestingly, the film “The Matrix” was based almost entirely on the concept of Maya or an illusory world created by machines to fool humans into thinking they were living and moving about when in actuality, they were all part of giant farms that used human body heat to harness energy. Of course, the film being a western production made it appear like a computer generated illusory world but it is not very different from Maya as perceived by Sri Adi Shankara and expanded upon in great detail in his works on Advaita philosophy. The song “Bhaja Govindam” composed by Sankara also has many references to Maya. Sankara says : “punarapi jananam, punarapi maranam” (we are born again and we die again).

    Sankara suggests that the only way to get out of this vicious and illusory cycle of Maya is to develop a sense of “detached attachment”, not dissimilar to the sentiment expressed in the song from “Baba”. It is clear that this sense of detached attachment doesn’t come easily. If a saint of Narada’s caliber fell prey to the effects of Maya, mere mortals are no exception. However, Sri Adi Sankara suggests a viable alternative : “devotion to Him is a path to self-realisation”. This devotion will broaden perspective and increase focus on the pertinent problem viz. “to be rid of this eternal illusion”.

    To sum up, I quote an old buddist monk on the subject of Maya : “For that which we cannot see, feel, smell, touch, or understand, we do not believe. For this, we are merely fools walking on the grounds of great potential with no comprehension of what is.”

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