Maya, an Integral part of Shakti

Vaishno Devi Shrine

The Thirumanthiram quotes:

"From thence evoluted Maya
Latent in Shakti like lustre in crystal
Mighty its power
Beyond power of speech to recount."

There is such beauty in this line. Isn't it our perception that rules us more than what really exists in reality?

This is a small example of how our own perception can imprison us into this web of Maya that we make judgments based on our own futile ignorance. I visited the doctor recently for a minor checkup. As I discussed about my ailment to the doctor, I noticed a skull kept high up on the wall that immediately took my fascination. I requested the doctor to allow me to hold the skull in my hand. It was an amazing feeling, to hold something so remote, so feared, and so repulsed. I looked closely at it and imagined myself at a shamshan ghat holding the same thing by night, near the fire and sprinkling mantras to the air calling the Goddess Kali to my doorstep. I smiled and kept it back.

When we reached home later, I raised this subject with my mother, who had also visited the clinic with me. She seemed very comfortable with me holding this skull in my hand at the clinic, but she had no idea about my thoughts :). I asked her the question again. It was so peaceful, and so harmless to hold this skull in the doctor's office. But if I had worn an orange or red outfit, smeared large amounts of Kumkum on my forehead, held this very same skull in my hand in the darkest of nights at a different location, a shamshan ghat for example, and done nothing else, how would she have reacted to it? It was equally harmless there too, and I am calling no Goddess or indulging in any malevolent practice and yet I would have looked deadly, scary and mystically more powerful than ever.

Isn't this perception? Isn't this the description of a mind working overtime, with biased information already fed in; that anyone in this attire in this time of the night holding such objects is "evil" or "scary" and better off left alone? But should I walk into a doctor's office and wear simple clothes and a much smaller Kumkum, in light, I would appear so much more friendly! And yet... the "I" is missing in both these perceptions.

None of these two perceptions describes my personality. None of these two perceptions looks at me the human being and my nature of what I am, but both focus entirely on the exterior of what I wear and how I appear. In short both the perceptions are deceived by my "luster" and none really look at the quality of the "crystal" within me.

Similarly, in this beautiful poetic verse described by the great sage Tirumular, Maya is described as the perception we have of the Goddess and not the Goddess herself. Maya, with all its complications is but a figment of our imagination. It’s an illusion we simply love, are too familiar with and do not want to get out of, so much so that we make it difficult for those who want to try.

Maya, is such a thick cloud of illusion that it doesn't let our mind, or senses even seek that which is in our subconscious. It is so full of deceptive action that we spend our waking hours, our concentration, our time, and our energy trying to live in that illusion without even realizing we have spent so much wasted effort in the wrong place. Maya is that barrier that exists between our consciousness and the world that lives in our subconscious and that glimpse is best found in its purity when we try to seek it within ourselves.

If we were to live this verse as sung in the Thirumanthiram, then we need to be aware of the conscious world, and not let it affect us, making it insignificant enough that it has little or no value in the world that lies within us in our subconscious. The Goddess to whom we have given form and color and power, is that inner energy that we still fail to realize is lying buried within us, unknown and we still remain enamored by the luster of life, of Maya.

Shakti is that which is beyond the Maya as we know it, Shakti is described as that which is beyond the life as we define it and Shakti is that which we experience when we attempt to take a dip into the subconscious world we have built within ourselves. We still remain blindly disposed to the luster of life, we barely even know where the crystal is to be found. The real beauty is within and we so don't have the power to conquer it for we fall to its luster, to its Maya, to its glitter, to our perception of it.

In the darkness of the subconscious, beyond the illusive light of this luster, lies the power of Mata, of the Goddess that remains untouched. She sits there silent, in darkness, in her reddish sheen so subtle that we do not know how to define and perceive her beauty. She is pure, sacred, and formless but her presence is experienced in her warmth as a beautiful Goddess, shining bright as her golden halo radiant with life, the crescent moon glows like a drop of amrita that rests on her all divine self. This is her all encompassing self that is so beautiful to experience, that even words fail to break the barrier of speech to describe her.

She is silence, She is void, She is light, She is beauty.

The only way to reach her is to bring the mind under control, with repeated thoughts focused on her such that we breath, think and live with thoughts only about the Mother and nothing else really matters. At the end of some time, the conscious state tunes itself to the same depth in thought to the subconscious so much that there is really no difference between both the worlds. This is when a thick cloud of illusion becomes a thin line and perception is now as pure are real.


JC said...

Shakti literally is 'energy' that is dealt by Physicists, as Heat, Light, Sound, Electricity, and Magnetism that believably are possible to convert from one to another, buat cannot be destroyed...Similarly, the ancients described god, related with time and space zero, as indestructible, unborn nad unending who was responsible for the 'maya' or appearance of the physical world/ universe even though it didn't exist in the 'present'!

Maybe, in simple words, it is like projection of recorded images/ sound that human being succeeded to achieve, to a limited extent apparently only, recently - a few centuries ago only, through the make-believe world of cinema...whereas even inferior animals continue receive dreams in their mind's eye since time immemorial...

JC said...

In the last few centuries 'we' have apparently come to learn about co-existence of microorganism with macro life forms and thus shouldn't have much problem in understanding/ accepting possibility of presence of intelligent life without form that is believably attached with apparent life forms that we humans have learnt about in recent times in minutest possible details and are still continuing to do so. We are aware how, with the passage of time, knowledge has become available at a much rapid rate, and maybe at any time now the secret would get revealed to the present day generation also as it apparently was to the ancients at some stage...

JC said...

The ancient 'Hindus', after in-depth studies, have conveyed how time and apparent events are related in unending repeated cycles...as these are witnessed by it, as through innumerable eyes, during one day of over 4 billion years in the life of the formless creator, from the 'perfect stage' believably reached by it alone (it alone being related with time and space zero) down to its 'imperfect stage' in the beginning - each of the innumerable physical form starting from different temporal and spatial locations each having started right from its formless stage...

JC said...

The following question was asked and also a long answer sent to 'me' by a friend for 'my' comment ('I' give below only the first reference quoted by him)...

Who is a Hindu ? This question arises all the time in various situations and Hindus are unable to answer it exactly , precisely , satisfactorily and with confidence.I have asked this question to many people including eminent Hindu scholars, Sadhus, religious leaders, professors and Pandits but without a satisfactory reply. Fortunately I have found the most fitting , exact, precise and above all satisfying definition of a Hindu by a great revolutionary, author, orator, poet and patriot Veer Vinayak Rao Damodar Rao Savarkar. In 1905 while in the prison at Andamon- Nicobar Islands he thus wrote

Asindhu Sindhu Paryanta yashya Bharat Bhoomika,
Pitribhu Punya Bhuschaiva Sa vai Hindu Riti Smritah.[1]
There is a vast land between river Sindhu and Hind Mahasagar called Bharat and those who accept that this is their fatherland or / and a holy land, land of pilgrimage are all Hindu...

'My' comment:

In short, immortal Shiva/ Nadbindu Vishnu (the formless being) alone is Hindu...It is it who believably is responsible for the 'maya' that is illusion whereby its own purely temporary images appear 'different' and seem to clash over smallest of the small issues even!

"Satyam Shivam Sunderam" - in short!


Anonymous said...

Very thoughtfull post . It should be very much helpfull

Karim - Positive thinking

Bart said...

Maia: Roman goddess of fertility, lit. "she who brings increase," related to magnus "great." Gk. Maia, one of the Pleiades, lit. "mother, nurse, midwife," however, is said to be from infant babbling (see mamma). Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper.

The ancient European Mother-Goddess Maia has given her name to the western calendar month May. The translation of her name ‘she who brings increase’ or ‘she who makes great’ intrigues me, for it comes so very close to the literally meaning of the Sanskrit word Brahman: ‘That which does grow’. As Maya She is indeed the Shakti of the Brahman, as I will proof her below with etymological means, although but the translation of ‘maya’ with ‘illusion’, doesn’t do her right. That translation defines Maya actually as the opposite of the Brahman, the supreme reality contra the supreme illusion. But Maya isn’t the opposite of the Brahman, but the counterpart of it. The Brahman is the never-changing reality and the Maya the ever-changing reality; and a reality is never an illusion. We are never able to behold the Brahman and the Maya in the very same time. So together they are like an optical illusion. Or one sees the candlestick, or on sees two faces en profile, in a famous example of this kind.

If it is true in Greek and Latin that Maia is related to great/magnus and mother/mater and than this must be even so true in Sanskrit with maya, mahan and mata. And there exist still another very old Indo-European word, which is related to the name Devi Maya/Dea Maia, that the name of the ancient Iranian priest-astronomers within the Zoroastrian Religion, the Magus. Their science and/or divine knowledge was called: magike techne, in Greek, in Latin ars magica and in Sanskrit mayika krita or magical art." Magic Power means Supernatural Force, and that is exactly the meaning of Maya’s name: God’s Magic. God’s Supernatural Power to create, to sustain or to destroy is Maya. Next to the borrowed word of ‘magic’, in German languages there exists another and indigenous word ‘derived from ‘Maya’, close related to the root-meaning of magic, and that is ‘Might’ in English and ‘Macht’ in German and Dutch. Maya’s ‘Might’ is God’s Omnipotence, God’s Almightiness. So the deeper meaning of the name of Goddess Maya indicates already her function as the Supreme Shakti of the entire Universe.

I will end the contribution with a quote from Anna Dallapicollo’s Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (London, 2002, p. 135, under the lemma Maya:

1. “Illusion, magic, phenomental reality, creative power/ All manifestions are regarded as transitory and and conjured by magic. The individual is under the illusion of being in control of the situation, but everything is determined by the Maya, the flux in which everything is created, dissolved and recreated.
2. The name of Devi – Mayadevi or Mahamaya – in her dynamic aspect of Shakti, source of the universe and creative power.

Let’s Praise this Supreme Goddess, the Advaita Vedantins have underestimate Her to much for to long.

Om Shri Mahamayadevi Ki Jaya!

JC said...

Hello Bart, Nice way of thinking! The saying, "Hari anant, Hari katha ananta...etc" explains how the formless omnipotent and pmnipresent creator was understood as the real and the most important unknown entity who is realised by everyone according to one's inherent capacity and described by in different and innumerable words in different Yugas - thanks believably to 'maya' or the web spun by the creator...for no one ever has come to know His purpose of 'creation' of apparent physical forms and their 'dissolution', eternally, i.e., what He seeks in His past say...

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