Jnana-Yoga :3.1

( Delivered in London )

Almost all of you have heard of the word Maya.
Generally it is used, though incorrectly, to denote illusion, or delusion, or some such thing.
But the theory of Maya forms one of the pillars upon which the Vedanta rests; it is, therefore, necessary that it should be properly understood.
I ask a little patience of you, for there is a great danger of its being misunderstood.
The oldest idea of Maya that we find in Vedic literature is the sense of delusion; but then the real theory had not been reached.
We find such passages as, "Indra through his Maya assumed various forms."
Here it is true the word Maya means something like magic, and we find various other passages, always taking the same meaning.
The word Maya then dropped out of sight altogether.

But in the meantime the idea was Later, the question was raised : - "Why can't we know this secret of the universe?"
And the answer given was very significant : -"Because we talk in vain, and because we are satisfied with the things of the senses, and because we are running after desires; therefore, we, as it were, cover the Reality with a mist."
Here the word Maya is not used at all, but we get the idea that the cause of our ignorance is a kind of mist that has come between us and the Truth.
Much later on, in one of the latest Upanishads, we find the word Maya reappearing, but this time, a transformation has taken place in it, and a mass of new meaning has attached itself to the word.
Swami Vivekananda
To be continued  ....


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