We have a reader question from Rajiv Bhagat,
What is Maya and why does it exist? Where is Maya the most prevalent?
There are many definitions of “Maya”. The literary definition of “Maya” is “Illusion”. Maya comes from two words – “Ma” + “Ya”. In this specific context, “Ma” means No and “Ya” means This.
Which means – what you are experiencing is “Not Real”. Neti Neti – not this, not this. I have explained this concept in an earlier article, please go through it to understand the concept of “Neti Neti“.
According to this theory, whatever you are experiencing is not the reality. Your experiences are nothing but an illusion. This includes everything that is happening inside as well as outside.
Only the person who has achieved the “Brahman” is aware of the reality. Everyone else is engulfed in “Maya”. Everyone in this world has been thought to believe false things as real and real things as false.
Bholenath (Shiva) the only exception. He is the one who is not influenced by Maya .However, Shiva is not able to create or Induce Maya in our lives, it is his other form (Vishnu) which invokes Maya in our lives.
Some examples of Maya in our lives
Maya exists in all aspects of our life. Her goal is to create an illusion and fool you until you elevate yourself and obtain the state of “Brahman”. Unless you are aware of what “Brahman” is, Maya will continue to delude you for the rest of your life.
Let me discuss a few examples of Maya in our lives.
The present-day education system is a good example of “Maya”.
Let’s understand why parents admit their children in Schools and then colleges
- Most of them do it because this is what everyone else does, not thinking what is the logic of admitting their children to school. The general thought is – this is the way it is and this is the way it always has been. They don’t question the logic of admitting their child in school. They do it because they have been convinced by the very idea of it.
This is “Maya”. If you don’t know the real reason why you are doing something, chances are you are wasting your time and effort. Moreover, you are guiding your mind in a wrong path and getting deluded by the pursuit of it.
- They think that by admitting their child in school, they are making him/her “educated”. This is Maya. They are not making the child educated as per definition. They are making the child “competent” to a system which domesticates children to “Obey commands of others without thinking or questioning anything”.
The Vedic education system was “Open” in nature. Children had the privilege to choose disciplines, teachers, and subjects themselves, depending on what they are interested in. There were no mass “coaching factories” wherein everyone had to compulsory learn things they don’t want to. Also, students had the right to challenge their teachers. Students had the right to modify the curriculum. Students had the right to challenge existing norms with their theories.
All those rights have been taken away. Now the system decides what a child will learn and what he will not. Nobody wants you to learn real, valuable things because if you learn all those things, you will not obey the system. You will become a rebel. You will start inventing things, you will start creating things, you will start challenging existing norms. That the “System” does not want. The “System” wants you to “Obey” existing norms, not “Challenge” them. Hence, “Uniforms”, “Curriculum”, “Discipline” and “Rules” are considered more important than “Curiosity”, “Creativity” and “experimentation”.
- Education has become a “Bread earning vehicle” and not a “Knowledge earning vehicle”. You go to school, so you can go to college, so you can apply for a job, so you can earn a monthly paycheque so you can acquire material things in life. This has become the social objective of everyone. People learn to earn money someday. So in reality, we are mass manufacturing bread earners, not knowledge seekers.
If someone has knowledge but not a certificate from a school, he is denied entry into a college. If someone has knowledge but no certificate from a college, he cannot obtain employment. This is pure madness. The system has created this to “Control” everyone, hide the real knowledge and just pass conventional knowledge to people so that they don’t become dangerous to the “System”. So the people who are governing the system need to ensure that coming generation do not challenge them in any way, so let’s remove all the important things which may become a challenge.
This is the reason why you will not see textbooks teaching you about Finance, Politics, Philosophy in detail. A 10-year-old student can clearly grasp the concepts of Finance if the teacher gives him the concept in a step by step way. But alas, he is not taught these things and he has to repent this in the form of taking wrong financial decisions later in his life.
Another example is the form of entertainment the society is engulfed in.
You are spending your hard earned money on something which gives you “Momentary pleasure” and makes you a slave of that pleasure for the rest of your life. It exploits you by taking your money away and making you addicted to that habit, which is completely unnecessary. It also creates the false illusion of “Enjoyment” wherein what is happening is that a chemical is subduing his senses and giving an effect of “Trance”. He can achieve the same thing with “Meditation” but he does not have the time and energy to obtain the feeling of “Trance” in the correct way, so he provides someone else the opportunity to exploit him.
Why does Maya Exist?
Maya exists to separate the fools and the learned, to give the right and deserving experience to people who have real knowledge and to give false knowledge to those who do not have real knowledge.
- A man who knows the real knowledge of marriage will look for a woman with great qualities. A man who does not have the real knowledge of marriage will look for a woman who is beautiful, seductive and capable of giving him bodily pleasures.
- A scholar who knows the real meaning of “Knowledge” will seek a “Teacher” independent of “Institutions”. A student who does not know the real meaning of knowledge will run after reputed colleges, institutions and famous names.
- A son who knows the real meaning of Father will stay with him in his old age and help him at times of need. A son who does not know the real meaning of Father will appoint others to help his father while he earns a fat paycheque far off in a distant country.
Since you are ignorant, hence Maya exists. The moment you obtain real knowledge, “Maya” ceases to exist.
According to Maya,
- The people who look Rich in society are actually poor. They have imaginary numbers in a bank account with no peace of mind, no time to enjoy, no freedom to pursue their wish and no friends and family to love. The people who look poor are free, live with their loved ones, have peace of mind and enjoy their lives just the way they want, without going after material things.
- The people who claim they are the happiest are the most unhappy with their lives. What they are running after is superficial happiness, and they want to establish before others that “They are happy and doing great”. They want to show others how happy they are. Leave them alone in a room for a day and they cannot contain themselves. The people who do not claim how happy they are and don’t try to show others how happy and content they are with their lives are the ones who have realized real happiness.
- The people who wear shiny clothes and facial makeup are not actually beautiful. They want to look beautiful to others. If they were really beautiful, what is the use of the make-up and gimmicks? The people who are just the way they are, are the ones who are actually beautiful.
- The people who give lectures on a stage and teach lessons in reputed institutions are not the ones who hold real knowledge. If they had real knowledge about the subject, they would not be reaching that subject. They would be practicing the subject. The people who have no time to teach the subject and are busy practicing it everyday are the ones who hold the real knowledge about the subject. (Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach).
In short, Maya exists to delude people into thinking the real as false and the false as real.
It is that golden deer which deludes the good spirit Ram into thinking that the Deer is real, while in reality he is being dragged into his destruction by the very thought of acquiring something which does not exist. Only after the good man Ram learns how not to get deluded by false things in life, he has to struggle hard to win back what he had lost. But then again, Maya comes and deludes him a second time and he loses (Sita) her forever.
“Maya” is a constant test of your knowledge, intellect, and righteousness. This world is a world of maya, delusion, and man is kept hypnotized with that delusion
To breathe at all is to breathe in Maya. Thus from their very birth, subjects are exposed to cosmic delusion and grow up helplessly under it. God gives them delusion first, and not himself, in order to carry on his dramatic scheme of creation. If he did not cover himself with the veils of maya, there could be no cosmic game of creation, in which men play hide-and-seek with him and try to find him as the Grand Prize.