Māyā

First of all, R. regards māyā5 as “the beginning-less cosmic principle which hides reality from the vision of man.” He believes liberation (moksa) from the endless rebirth (samsāra) requires a vision of the real…..Māyā evolves a variety of names and forms, which in their totality is the universal movement (jagat). It also, conceals the eternal Brahman under this aggregate of names and forms. Māyā has the two functions of concealment of the real and the projection of the unreal. The world of variety screens us from the real.

Some think Creation’s meant to show him forth,
I say it’s meant to hide him all it can.

                 Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology”

  1. modifies the concealment (or veil) metaphor for māyā as both the veil and dress of God. A dress serves two purposes – it hides and it displays. Likewise māyā5 can be likened to a scrim (A thin canvas used in theater and opera in order both to show the audience shapes and colors and to hide what is going on backstage)…..The view which regards the multiplicity as ultimate is deceptive (māyā) , for it causes the desire to live separate and independent lives. When we are completely separate entities, sharing little and mistaking individuality, which is one of the conditions of our life in space-time, for isolation and not wishing to lose the hard outlines of our separate existence. Māyā keeps us busy with the world of succession and finitude.

So long as the individual thinks himself to be a separate atom in this immense universe, so long as he has the idea that he is the chief actor in the stage, he is in the world of māyā,…. When we recognize the essence of the finite to be in the Infinite, when we realize that we are but instruments of a nobler purpose, we get out of the world of māyā.

Borrowing a root image from Western thought , R. diagnoses the people in Plato’s cave [9] as suffering from the persistent and false belief that the shadows are real objects…..The simile of the cave reminds us of the Hindu doctrine of māyā, or appearance. Plato compares the human race to men sitting in a cave, bound, with their backs to the light and fancying that the shadows on the wall before them are not shadows but real objects.

  1. wants people to expand their partial consciousness by ‘seeing’ both the forms and the formless. In particularly he says ”the world is not a deception but the occasion for it”….Just as a desert “puddle” can be dangerous if the truth about it is not known, so also R. thinks māyā5 can be dangerous if we do not pierce its veil.

            How to go beyond this concealment or veil is the next attempt of R.’s dissertation :-

For R. a distortion of vision is also a distortion of values….When the Hindu thinkers ask us to free ourselves from māyā , they are asking us to shake off our bondage to the unreal values and ignorance which are dominating us. They do not ask us to treat life as an illusion or to be indifferent to the world’s welfare…..When the illusion of the mirage is dissipated by scientific knowledge, the illusory appearance remains, though it no longer deceives us. We see the same appearance but give a different value to it….

The world has the tendency to delude us into thinking that it is all, that is self-dependent, and this delusive character of the world is also designated māyā in the sense of ignorance (avidyā). When we are asked to overcome māyā, it is an injunction to avoid worldliness. Let us not put our trust in the things of the world. Māyā is concerned not with the factuality of the world but the way in which we look at it…….While māyā covers the whole cosmic manifestation avidyā relates to the ignorance of the individual…..When we look at the problem from the objective side, we speak of māyā, and when from the subjective side, we speak of avidyā. Even as Brahman and Ātman are one, so are māyā and avidyā one. The tendency for the human mind to see what is really one as if it were many, is avidyā ; but this is common to all individuals…….The ignorance (avidyā) that concerns R. is the lack of spiritual wisdom and not the lack of intellectual sophistry.

  1. māyā6 : as One–side Dependence : While the world is dependent on Brahman. the latter is not dependent on the world. This one-sided dependence and the logical inconceivability of the relation between the Ultimate Reality and the world are brought out by the word māyā.

The one-sided dependence of the world on the Absolute is illustrated by Samkara by his rope and the snake example elaborating the difference between appearance (vivarta) and transformation (parināma)……we have the latter when milk is changed into curds. and the former when the rope appears as the snake. The different illustrations used by Samkara of the rope and the snake, the shell and the silver, the desert and the mirage, are intended to indicate this one-sided dependence of the effect on the cause and the maintenance of the integrity of the cause. In the case of transformation, the cause and the effect belong to the same order of reality, while in that of appearance the effect is of a different order of being from the cause…..

The doctrine of māyā declares that the world is dependent on and derived from the Ultimate Reality. It has the character of perpetual passing away, while the real is exempt from change. It has therefore a lower status than the Supreme itself. In no case is its existence to be confused with illusory being or non-existence.

The One remains, the many change and pass;
Heaven’s light forever shines. Earth’s shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-colored glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity,
Until Death tramples it to fragments.– Die,
If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek !
Follow where all is fled ! – Rome’s azure sky ,
Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words, are weak
The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak.

P.B.Shelley, “ L II , ADONAIS”

 Māyā in this view states the fact that Brahman without losing his integrity is the basis of the world. Though devoid of all specifications, Brahman is the root cause of the Universe. ‘If a thing cannot subsist apart from the something else, the latter is the essence of that thing.’ R. judges that the discursive intellect cannot grasp in its entirety the content of this cause and affect dichotomy since there is “something more”. This phrase cannot be caught in the net of words we can refer to it paradoxically as changeless. that grows and bursts forth, unity and continuity, consciousness, the whole, harmony and truth. Questions of a temporal beginning are subordinate to this relation of ground and consequent. The world does not carry its own meaning. To regard it as final and ultimate is an act of ignorance. [10]