Our quest on“origin & evolution” of the universe, has mostly inferred an illusory outcome. Philosophers, Researchers & Scientist have given their theories & inferences but still, I would say, the origin of the universe & mankind is the greatest of all mysteries.
We come across the theory of the Big Bang, which is so far the most accepted theory of the creation of the universe, but Hindu philosophers, thinkers & sages have given us even more interesting theories of evolution via Matsya Purana, texts of “Nyayakusumanjali” by Udyana and many more.
Srishti – The Creation
It is said that the source of every reason is our being in this world. This mystery is well-referred to in Sanskrit Shloka from our respected Rigveda :
It says that, before the creation, Truth did not exist, nor existed the Falsehood, even Space & the sky did not have their entities. What was hidden and who covered it, when the Unreachability & Abyssal was not present. Still, there is someone – the creator who knows everything, or does even He knows? Is not known.
As the Saankhya philosophy explains it, ‘Srishti’ – The Creation is initiated by two perpetual elements – Purush & Prakriti, where Purush is the conscious form & Prakriti is comprised of 3 subliminal elements – Satva, Raja & Tamas in balanced form.
Creation was activated by the proximity of Purush & Prakriti which caused the 3 elements of Prakriti to vibrate and create. Thus the creation is referred to as Maya. Maya is what we are going to discuss here.
Maya – Illusion That We Live In
In the recitation of Shrimad Bhagavad Geeta and in all the discourses of our great sages, we have advised one great abdication and that is Renunciation from Maya. We are suggested to understand that Maya is the root of diversion from Godhead and we must detach from Maya on the way to find the Absolute Knowledge or the God Himself.
But being human, who is totally indulged in Maya, we, find ourselves inseparable from it. The Matrix of Maya, created by Prakriti, is so dense & enclosing that, it reigns over all of us. We actually are slaves of our emotions like Ego, Pride, Attachment, Love, Lust, Jealousy, Hatred, fascination, Infatuation & Ambitions. Be it tangible or intangible, we all very strongly held within these ties.
Let us understand the influence of Maya through a story:
A man named George lived in the countryside with his family. He had a beautiful house and since he built it with his hard-earned money, he was much attached to it. One day when he returned from his work, he was aghast to see that his house was on fire. He ran frantically towards his house, shouting for help.
But since it was too late and the flames had engulfed the house from all sides, the neighbors held George to prohibit him to get near to his house and get hurt. Crying vigorously he witnessed his property getting devastated, when his elder son approached him and holding him tight, he consoled him saying “Father, please do not cry, this is not the end.
Today, I sold this house to an entrepreneur in double the price of the house. So the property now belongs to him.” The next moment scenario changed, George’s tears dried and he was calm. Holding his son’s shoulder, he watched the burning house, becoming a part of the crowd gathered there.
Suddenly his heart has contended and he felt proud of his son. The attachment to the house was gone. But the story continues….. Within some moments, his second son came running and informed that their worry is not yet over, since the entrepreneur has paid only the advance money and the balance is still due to be paid tomorrow.
George and his son, who were feeling relieved because of the deal, started crying once again. The attachment was back and he started pulling his hairs in dismay. Suddenly at this juncture, George’s 3rd son appeared and informed “Please do not worry, I am coming from the entrepreneur’s office.
A businessman is a man of his words, he knows that the house is on fire, but still, he assured that since he has bought the house, he will certainly pay the rest of the amount tomorrow and the house is ‘his’ now.
Moreover, he wants to build a resort here, therefore, anyhow he wanted to demolish our house, so that he may start his new construction.” The situation changed once again, smiles came back on George’s face, and once again, his attachment to the house vanished.
To draw a moral of this story is quite philosophical. We observe a repeated change of emotions in a person who is attached to a house for years, but still happy to see it burning in front of his eyes…why??
The answer is that Attachment exists in the thoughts, the storyteller infers – “Sow a thought and reap an Action”. Similarly, “Sow an action and reap a Habit”; and what’s more – “Sow a Habit to reap a Character”.
It’s a chain reaction always, but it originates from the mind and gives birth to a thought. The thought is intangible but results could be tangible or intangible. Have you ever visited a crematorium? It is worthwhile to observe that when a person is alive, he has a name and he is related to his/ her kins.
But as soon as he/she ceases to live, you call it a ‘body’. The relations & the attachment fade away and after a while, people may even be afraid to touch it. What happens that someone who was so dear a while ago, physically becomes no one…!! This irony is Maya – the illusion.
Right from the time, when a child takes birth, he enters into Maya. As he gains his consciousness, the Maya intensifies. He is attached to his mother, father & elders, and vice-a-versa because his thoughts are trained to regulate actions and actions become habits which consequently becomes a character.
He comes in contact with so many people to whom he is not related earlier but they come close and share a bonding under influence of Maya. This bonding is named friends, wife, and likewise.
Not only in Love & tenderness, but people also hate, despise, become jealous, and conspire as being in Maya. Even if I love my House, Car or Rose plant in my garden, or a Hill station & a Beach, it is because of Maya. I relish my food or someone likes alcohol, it is Maya.
Many great & learned personalities have explained the concept of Maya (Illusion), which God has created in all the state of perfection, as per their perception and knowledge, but I will try to opine as I see it, which, of course, could be a derivative of their views.
Maya is described as an Illusion. An illusion is, what is not real and is illusive. It has somehow been compared with Magic. However, I would say, Maya is a creation that is ‘real’, but still, since it is not permanent, it is referred to as – illusion.
It is a known fact that whatever has originated, shall eventually end, but within the tenure, they follow a course of growth and decay and as per the growth of respective minds, react to each other. Hence, what was yesterday, is not today and again, will not be tomorrow. This is the reason it is called an illusion.
It is a perfect mechanism, as we find everything inside this Matrix called our Universe, and the only way out from it is the way of Salvation – the way to be liberated which could be achieved through knowledge and efforts to advance in that way.
Perfection In The Illusion
As mentioned above, Maya has been created in a state of perfection. It is amazing to note that everything in this matrix exists and works in perfect synchrony and harmony. In this age of Science, ‘miracles are hard to believe but the greatest of all miracles is Life’ that exists in this world.
As a plant takes birth, in a garden, Orchard or in wild, from a seed, whether sown or not and takes its shape to grow into a tree, likewise is the growth & development in animals – without been taught about the process, animals, birds & even insects give birth to the young ones of their spices who take their course of development & growth and so does human beings.
Isn’t it a miracle that a Human is born of a human? Have we ever seen that a human has given birth to a frog? Or a rabbit is born from a Monkey mother? Never!! Moreover, all species adhere to nature ie. Prakriti to appear to look and belong to their respective clan.
Living in groups called family, we evolve & learn, not only to respect, love, being affectionate & care but to dislike, hate, jealous, scorn, loathe & antagonize others. Animals are non-responsive to others but surely affectionate & caring to their families & co-species.
This Love & hate, Respect & Loathing, Accepting & Relinquishing are the forms of Maya. It is not tangible but could be seen & observed clearly in actions that are consequences of emotions & gestures. So, to sum up, the fact is that – All are part of this illusion and within, under the influence of illusion, thus the illusion carries on.
We often wonder, that in spite of having all the divine powers, why God has to incarnate himself to vanquish the power of the evil? Why doesn’t he punishes the sinner with His infinite Divinity?
Simple Logic points it towards the mechanism of Maya. Even the Almighty does not mediate in his own creation. He is the source of the purest form of Energy and omnipotent, but no one can tangibly exercise a material gesture without being inside the Matrix of Maya.
Hence, Good or Evil energy has to obtain a body to perform their share of tasks. This is the reason the Divine energies incarnate into material bodies to implement tasks called ‘Leela’. Once inside the matrix of Maya, the body performs according to the rules which are set in this illusion.
For example, Lord Rama went hunting the Golden deer out of Love for Sitaji, Shurpanakha (sister of Ravana) proposed to Rama and then Lakshmana out of Lust, Ravana kidnapped Sitaji out of Pride, and Hanumana helped Rama to find Sitaji and escorted the Lord out of Devotion.
All the gestures were material and done in the matrix of Maya. This indicates that anyone who enters Maya is influenced by its effects. To elaborate, how strong is the influence of Maya, reminds me of another story.
Story of Narada falling into Maya
Once, Narada – Wandering Sage of the Devas, sat in deep meditation. As it would always happen, whenever an individual performed such intense penance, King of Devas – Indra got worried, not knowing what the sage’s intention behind the penance was.
Possessive about the throne of Swarga (heaven), Indradev assumed that the penance was aimed to gain the lordship of heaven. So, to disturb Narada’s Tapasya (meditation), he sent Kamadeva – the lord of desire & lust to distract the ascetic’s penance.
Although aware of his adherence to celibacy, Indra knew that it required a determination as great as of Lord Shiva to resist Kamadeva, so he advised Kamadeva to entice Narada.
The Kama, transformed the barren place the sage was sitting, into a beautiful garden with fragrant flowers, musical fountains and floral vines, and Apsaras of heaven dancing for the sage and seduce him, but Narada sat there unaffected. The Kama even shot his floral arrow on him which otherwise prove infallible, but could not win over the Devarishi.
At last, Kamadeva admitted his defeat and fell at his feet and begged for his forgiveness. Unaware of what happened, Narada opened his eyes, hearing Kamadeva’s voice and was surprised to see the deva prostrating.
On asking, Kama narrated what happened and praised the sage of his greatness. Narada’s heartfelt an inordinate amount of pride to hear this. As soon as the Deva left, Narada headed to Kailash – an abode of Mahadeva, to tell him, his achievement. Lord Shiva, seemed pleased to hear the episode and with a divine smile, he said “O Narada, I am really happy to know your achievement.
But, I would suggest, please do not speak about this to Shri Vishnu”. Narada was taken aback. He left a little aggrieved from Kailasha. “Why would Mahadeva abstain him from sharing such an achievement with Shri Vishnu, whom he was a staunch devotee?” he thought, “Surely, Mahadeva was jealous of his achievement”.
Disregarding Lord Shiva’s advice, Narada headed straight to Vaikuntha – the abode of Lord Vishnu and bowing before Shri Hari, he narrated the whole episode with minute details with great pride and exaggeration and Shri Narayana listened with his mischievous smile.
Narada felt a bit of disappointment, as he could feel the scent of a lack of interest in the Lord’s response. While coming back he kept on thinking that why did, the Lord gave such a cold acknowledgment to his great success.
Was it that he had achieved something which even superseded Lord Vishnu? It surely was, he concluded. So where could he now visit to acclaim a fitting recognition from? Obviously from the land of mortals – Prithivilok (Earth). So he decided to go to Martyalok.
Narada had the ability to travel all places of existence. He descended to Prithivilok from Vaikuntha, to find himself in a magnificent city that he had never visited before in his wandering. As he explored, he came to know that it was the kingdom of King Sheelanidhi.
The city was bubbling with excitement as Swayamvara of the King’s daughter was announced. Narada thought he should not let this opportunity to go by and decided to visit the King to bless him.
King Sheelanidhi was humbled to see the Sage of Devas visiting him. He welcomed Narada with great adoration and requested him to bless his daughter – Srimati, so that she may get a suited groom.
Srimati – the King’s daughter’s beauty was one in a million. When she entered the King’s court, Narada could not get his eyes away from her. Suddenly an overwhelming desire to marry this gorgeous girl overpowered the sage’s mind.
Mustering every bit of his patience, he blessed Srimati saying that the princess is so beautiful that she deserves to get a groom with the face of Shri Hari (Shri Vishnu). The King was proudly happy to hear this and he cordially invited Narada to grace the Swayamvara of his daughter. Even after departing from the palace, Narada kept on thinking about the princess.
Somewhere, in his desperation, he wanted to be the man that the princess might choose according to his own words uttered in the court. But for that, he must have the adorable face of Shri Hari. So he prayed to Lord Vishnu, who obliged instantaneously, by appearing before his prime devotee. Narada requested the Lord to bless him with the “face of Hari”, and Lo!! God blessed him saying “Tathastu” – so be it, you will have the face of Hari”, and disappeared.
On the day of Swayamvara, Narada was more than jubilant. As he was confident, that with the face of Hari, he would be the one who will be chosen. In the court, as Princess Srimati advanced with a thick garland of flowers in her hands, Narada confidently stepped forward. But guess what – ignoring him, Srimati proceeded to pass by the other competing princes.
Confused, Narada thought, that she might have mistakenly overlooked him, so he trespassed between the others to come in the front row again, but the result was the same.
Narada was aghast when he saw a smile on Srimati’s face, who was viewing past him. He turned to find Shri Vishnu Himself standing there. Srimati briskly walked to place the garland around His neck. What went wrong? Narada approached embellishment on the wall to see what did Shri Hari blessed to him if he Himself wanted to steal the show.
He saw he had been awarded with the face of a Monkey. He can well guess now that Hari is also a synonym of a Monkey. Narada felt a twinge of anger & betrayal. A curse came to his lips, as he forcefully closed his eyes in the pain of being let down so badly, when he was addressed by the divine voice of Shri-Hari, “Narada, I heard what you cursed in your mind and I accept it.”
Narada opened his eyes, to find that the scenario was totally changed. There were no King and Palace, nor were there any competing princes. He was in Vaikuntha, standing before Narayana Himself with Srimati who showed now as Goddess Lakshmi. “Oh!! So all this was Yogamaya”, he thought. Lord continued “But your curse that may I be departed from my wife and struggle to find her to feel your desperation, has to wait for the right time in future and take my words that I will be helped by your kind of species to be united with her”.
But how could a sage-like you – who won over Kaama, fall prey to kama’s arrow, when you have taken an oath to adhere lifelong brahmacharya?” Narada was humbled and embarrassed too. He had now understood the whole episode, and being belittled, had lost all his pride.
The story tells us that however enlightened a person is, once he enters the matrix of Maya, he is influenced by it. Therefore, as recited in Shrimad Bhagwadgita by the Lord Himself, the process of being a mortal and reborn goes on, till we finish & settle our account of karma (refer as explained in my article on Karma theory).
Karmas are bound to happen. Good karmas attract elevated rebirth and Bad Karmas brings distress in the next life, but the cycle carries on until our karmas executed are selfless or dedicated to the Almighty.
Liberation from Maya is virtually our desire to cease to live as mortal or human beings and when we are liberated from the body…we are Energy !! Without all Desires, Love, Lust, Envy, Jealousy, Hostility, and Hatred. So what is our choice is our choice. Maya prevails.
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