December 17, 2012

What is Maya according to Hinduism?

Maya is that which lets you forget your original nature. The original nature being pure consciousness or that which we call the absolute truth or God. It is responsible for the primordial "I am" thought in all beings because of which the world is created. The maya itself accounts its existence to Brahman (the absolute). In an other context, maya is called Prakriti and the Brahman which is its source is called Purusha. 

One can relate this to the process of dreaming. In deep sleep you are pure consciousness (Brahman). All of a sudden there is a sudden change of state and you begin to slip into a dream state. Maya is that which is responsible for this change of state of consciousness and brings forth creation out of nothingness. Since it is responsible for creation (within the dream), it is also associated with the female principle called Shakti where the pure consciousness becomes the male principle Shiva. This is the esoteric meaning behind Hindu Gods depicted as male and female counterparts. 

Maya is called with different names and forms in different contexts of Hinduism. For example: In vedic numerlogy, the number 9 is considered lucky because 

9*1 gives 09 whose sum (0+9) is 9; 
9*2 gives 18 whose sum (1+8) is 9; 
9*3 gives 27 whose sum (2+7) is 9; 
9*4 gives 36 whose sum (3+6) is 9; 

Since the sum always leads to 9, the number 9 denotes the changes paratatwa or the purusha or pure consciousness or Brahman. 

Likewise number 8 denotes Maya because
8*1 gives 08 whose sum (0+8) is 8
8*2 gives 16 whose sum (1+6) is 7
8*3 gives 24 whose sum (2+4) is 6
8*4 gives 32 whose sum (3+2) is 5
8*5 gives 40 whose sum (4+0) is 4
8*6 gives 48 whose sum (4+8 = 12; 1+2) is 3
8*7 gives 56 whose sum (5+6 = 11, 1+1) is 2
8*8 gives 64 whose sum (6+4 = 10, 1+0) is 1
again 9 becomes 8, 8 becomes 7 etc

If you observe the nature of this number 8, it subjects itself to change constantly bringing down 9 which is denoted as brahman or consciousness to slip into lower levels. This is why number 8 is considered as maya tatwa in numerology. 

Like this, there are many ways in which Hinduism describes the nature of maya. In a nut shell, the essence of Hinduism lies in the fact that one has to overcome maya by giving up ego and desires that bind one's existence with creation. As this happens, the realization of the self dawns making it clear that we are not what we think but we are God ourselves.

PS: This post is my answer on Quora to the question 
Hinduism: What is Maya in eastern philosophies?



    the way 8 constantly changes and is brought to 9. Wow.

    keep rocking, keep blogging! :-D

  2. how simplest is the way you explained maya and brahm! great!