Concept of Maya

Maya or the primal matter is also without a beginning that has Brahman as its locus and content. The existence and evidence of Brahman is concealed by maya. Maya is the limiting adjunct that distorts Brahman-consciousness. But, maya does not affect Brahman since maya is of a lower order of reality. Maya is defined as indescribable or that which cannot be categorised as existent, or non-existent or both. It cannot be said to be existent, since on rise of Brahman-knowledge, maya and its effects gets sublated. It cannot non-existent, since it is experienced. It cannot be both since opposed features cannot exist in the same locus. Therefore, it is said to be different from existence and non-existence which is known as indescribable.

Maya cannot be categorised as different from Brahman because it affects the philosophy of non-dualism, neither can it be said to be identical to Brahman since on wake of Brahman-knowledge, maya will continue remaining unsublated like Brahman. Maya is one without parts. If maya is said to have parts then its origin is to be determined, maya is beginningless according to Advaita. It cannot be therefore said, maya is partless because it is the transformative material cause of the universe. A partless entity cannot transform or modify to become something.

Scriptures declare maya as a great mystery. It contains three gunas, namely, sattva, rajas and tamas. It is not perceptible but inferred through its products, the world and the material bodies. Maya possesses two powers, one to conceal (avarana shakti) the nature of consciousness and the other to project (vikshepa shakti) a world of plurality. Maya does not have an independent existence of its own and it depends on Brahman for its existence. According to Advaita, that which has a dependent existence is unreal (mithya).

(Source: BPY005/Block 2/Unit 2/Page 22)

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