SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama:
daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī
mama māyā duratyayā
‘Verily is this, My divine guṇa-imbued māyā, hard to surmount.’
Inasmuch as this my māyā, —permeate with the characteristics of satva, rajas, and tamas,— is daivi or created by Me, —the Deva—, for purposes of sport (div= to play with, being the root-meaning), it is difficult for all to overcome it.
Its designation by the term māyā is on account of its power to produce marvellous effects (the protean phenominal nature=matter), analogous to such effects as the magic missiles (arrows etc., used in war) of Asuras1 and Rākshasas2 produced, as stated, for example, in:—
‘Then the discus Sudarśana, despatched by Bhagavān, and wreathed in flames, —at His mandate—, arrived. By this rapidly whirling discus, the body of the youth (Prahlāda) was shielded, and the thousand magic (=marvellous=māyā) designs of Śambara (on the youth), (failed one after another.’3
The term māyā never signifies what is false [or illusion]4. [Even in the case of magicians (aindrajālikās) and others,]5 The term māyāvi is applied to one who produces real impressions on another’s imagination. The effect is real though the cause is illusory [i.e., there is produced real knowledge only, though it has for its object an unreal thing. 6]. The magician (indrajālika), by his art of conjuring, produces marvellous effects by means of incantations or herbs, so that when māyāvi designates a producer of real effects, the term māyā denotes the real incantation or the herb itself through which such effects are produced.7
Wherever therefore the term māyā is found used, that it invariably means ‘that which is capable of producing marvellous protean effects’ is universally acceptable. While so when it may happen to be used so as to mean an unreality instead of the real impression which is produced on the imagination, such application is but figurative. (So that the universal sense is not to be sacrificed to a partial figurative sense). As for example, when they say:—
Mañchaḥ krośanti=‘the cots cry’: they mean that those who lie on the cots, cry8.
This māyā (or matter considered in its aspect of producing marvellous effects), sated with guṇās, is verily of Bhagavān (Lord). It is the māyā that is alluded to in:—
‘Prakṛiti (matter) is to be apprehended by (the term) māyā; and the Great Lord by (the term) māyī9.’
The work that māyā does is to veil the true nature of Bhagavān, and lure men to find their pleasures in itself.
Hence, all the world, bewitched by this māyā of Bhagavān, fails to recognize Bhagavān, Who is of immeasurably Superb Blissful Nature.
The way of deliverance from (this) māyā is now stated:
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- Asuras are the demons of the first order descended from Diti by Kaśyapa, in perpetual hostility with Devas or gods. ↩
- Rākshasas are the imps, fiends and goblins who wage war with men disturbing sacrifices, eating them &c. ↩
- Vish: Pur: I-19, 20 (Tato Bhagavatā tasya rakshārtham etc.,) ↩
- Māyā never signifies what is false or unreal. Vide, Introduction to Thebaut’s Vedānta-Sutras, Vol I, p: XCIV. Vide, Colebrook’s Hindus, p: 242. Vide, Śāṇdilya
Sutras, 42: ‘Śaktitvān nānṛitam vedyam’. ↩
- M.R.Sampatkumāran 1969 ↩
- Per M.R.Sampatkumāran 1969. ↩
- M.R.Sampatkumāran, 1969: Hence the word, ‘māyā‘, does not indicate the meaning of illusion. Even in the case of magicians (aindrajālikas) and others, there is the use of the word, ‘māyāvin‘ (one who possesses māyā), because, with the help of certain incantations, herbs, etc., there is produced real knowledge only, though it has for its object an unreal thing. (The point here is that ‘māyā‘ never means illusion. The māyās of Śambara, destroyed by the divine discus, could not have been illusions. Those who practise indrajāla or illusionist magic create real knowledge in the minds of spectators, even though the object of the knowledge is unreal. In consonance with the usage in all other contexts, we must hold that the magician is called the possessor of māyā because of the incantations and herbs he uses. They are māyās, real things having the power of producing wonderful effects. If we take māyā to mean illusion in this case, we cannot account for its use to denote the real weapons of Śambara and others.) ↩
- This is the figure metonymy in Saṃskṛit Rhetoric, as for example ‘a hundred lances’ means the hundred men who bear the lances; ‘read Bacon’ means, read the works of Bacon. ↩
- Svet: Up: 10. (māyān-tu prakṛitim vidyāt māyinan-tu Maheśvaram). Cp. Svet: Up: IV-9 (asmān māyī sṛijate viśvam etat). ↩