Comment by Suresh Vyas:

A Swaminarayan Saadh said this about Maya (माया):

“Maya is what makes us forget God.”

Concept of MAYA in Indian Philosophy and Sikh Religion

Hardev Singh Virk


#360 Sector 71, SAS Nagar (Mohali) -160071, India


Indian philosophy is a unique contribution to World philosophy. Maya is one of the most complicated concepts of Indian philosophy. It is a pillar of Hindu philosophy, known as Advaita Vedanta. The historical development of this concept from Vedic period to Adi Shankracharya era has been discussed. Maya appears in all religious traditions of India. It has different connotations in Buddhism and Sikh religion. Advaita Vedanta considers Brahman (God) as the only Reality and all His creation as illusion or Maya. Guru Nanak transforms the Vedantic concept of Reality in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) and proclaims that this universe is also real, not an illusion. A detailed study of Maya concept in Sikh religion is presented based on the writings of Sikh Gurus in the SGGS and its implications for the Indian society.



Indian Philosophy, also known as Hindu Philosophy, is a unique contribution to the World Philosophy and has an edge over Western Philosophy with its origin rooted in Greek Philosophy. Concept of Maya occurs only in the Indian philosophy and has nothing to do with the western philosophy. Rather, it is a pillar of Hindu philosophy, known as Advaita Vedanta. Concept of Maya is also found in Buddhism and Sikh religion with some variation in both these streams of Indian philosophy. Our purpose is to elaborate this concept and find its implications for Sikh religion.

Maya is a most complicated concept of Indian philosophy [1]. In Rig Veda, the word Maya is used generally to indicate the supernatural power attributed to gods, especially to Varuna, Mitra, and Indra. The word Maya has been frequently used in pre-Shankara literature of Hindu philosophy, but in different connotations. The great Indian philosopher, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan writes [2]: “Maya is that which measures out, moulds, forms in the formless. The term Maya has a number of different meanings: Prakrti-nature, sakti, avidya, that which renders possible, the impossible, taking one thing for another, veiling superimposition, etc. refer to all Maya. The word Maya is derived from the root ‘ma’ to measure or form. Maya is the principle that makes one thing appear as what it is not. Maya is not real, or unreal, or real and unreal. It is indefinable”.


Maya is one of the pillars upon which the Vedanta rests [3].   Maya is one of the basic doctrines of the Advaita Vedanta. According to Advaita Vedanta, Brahman is the only reality.  Brahman appears to us as the Universe of multifarious names and forms due to Maya.  Vedanta says that everything that exists in the world, including science is the manifestation of Brahman, the supreme consciousness. Maya deludes the mind and takes us away from reality. Maya is the most difficult and intricate state of things to understand.  In one form or other, we are all in Maya.  Power of Maya is such that it makes us think that Maya itself is life and religion.


Maya is not real; it is only an illusion power of the Supreme consciousness.  Just like the shadow which is always present with us, Maya always exists in the Supreme Being.  This world which is the creation of Maya does not have an absolute existence. Many are unaware of the difference between Brahman and Maya.  Brahman is not affected by the modifications of the Maya.


The concept of Maya is beautifully explained by the metaphor of rope appearing as a snake in dim light. Maya created a phenomenon of appearance of rope for snake in dim light, which is the result of ignorance created by our mind. In the bright light, the misconception and fear is gone with true knowledge of rope. Maya flourishes in ignorance and disappears with the rise of enquiry leading to true knowledge.


Adi Shankarara’s Vivekachudamani [4] describes Maya in the following way: “It is undifferentiated and undivided.  Nobody can define what it is, but it has the power of God.  Beginningless and yet, also called ignorance, it has three qualities; sattva, rajas and tamas.  It cannot be understood except by its actions, and that, only by the illumined ones.  It has created all this universe – produced it all.  It is Maya” (verse 108).  Maya is unreal because it changes, and it is not unreal because it exists.


  1. Concept of Maya in Hindu Philosophy [5]

The Vedanta and Yoga schools explained that complete realization of knowledge requires both the understanding of ignorance, doubts and errors, as well as the understanding of invisible principles, incorporeal and the eternal truths. The text Yoga Vasistha explains the need to understand Maya as follows [6]: “Just as when the dirt is removed, the real substance is made manifest; just as when the darkness of the night is dispelled, the objects that were shrouded by the darkness are clearly seen, when ignorance [Maya] is dispelled, truth is realized.


The early works of Samkhya, the rationalist school of Hinduism, do not identify or directly mention the Maya doctrine [7]. Samkhya school steadfastly retained its duality concept of Prakrti and Purusha, both real and distinct, with some texts equating Prakrti to be Maya that is “not illusion, but real”, with three Guṇas in different proportions whose changing state of equilibrium defines the perceived reality [8].


In the Bhagavata philosophy, Maya has been described as ‘that which appears even when there is no object like silver in a shell and which does not appear in the atman’; with Maya described as the power that creates, maintains and destroys the universe [9].


The realism-driven Nyaya school of Hinduism [10] denied that either the world (Prakrti) or the soul (Purusa) are an illusion. Naiyayikas developed theories of illusion, typically using the term Mithya, and stated that illusion is simply flawed cognition, incomplete cognition or the absence of cognition. There is no deception in the reality of Prakrti or Pradhana (creative principle of matter/nature) or Purusa, only confusion or lack of comprehension or lack of cognitive effort, according to Nyaya scholars. To them, illusion has a cause, that rules of reason and proper Pramanas (epistemology) can uncover.


Maya is a prominent and commonly referred to concept in Vedanta philosophies [11, 12]. Maya is often translated as “illusion”, in the sense of “appearance” [13]. Vedantins assert the “perceived world including people are not what they appear to be” [14]. Māyā is that which manifests, perpetuates a sense of false duality [15]. This manifestation is real, but it obfuscates and eludes the hidden principles and true nature of reality. The difference within various sub-schools of Vedanta is the relationship between individual soul and cosmic soul (Brahman).


Advaita Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara has been considered to be the best exponent of theory of Māyā during the ninth-century. In Advaita Vedanta philosophy, there are two realities: Vyavaharika (empirical reality) and Paramarthika (absolute, spiritual reality) [16].  Māyā is the empirical reality that entangles consciousness. Māyā has the power to create a bondage to the empirical world, preventing the unveiling of the true, unitary Self—the Cosmic Spirit also known as Brahman. Shankar’s theory was modified by a later Advaita scholar Prakasatman, who explained, “Maya and Brahman together constitute the entire universe, just like two kinds of interwoven threads create a fabric. Maya is the manifestation of the world, whereas Brahman, which supports Maya, is the cause of the world” [17].


Māyā is a fact in that it is the appearance of phenomena. Since Brahman is the sole metaphysical truth, Māyā is true in epistemological and empirical sense; however, Māyā is not the metaphysical and spiritual truth. The spiritual truth is the truth forever, while what is empirical truth is only true for now. Since Māyā is the perceived material world, it is true in perception context, but is “untrue” in spiritual context of Brahman. Māyā is not false, it only clouds the inner Self and principles that are real. True Reality includes both Vyavaharika (empirical) and Paramarthika (spiritual), the Māyā and the Brahman. The goal of spiritual enlightenment, state Advaitins, is to realize Brahman, realize the fearless, resplendent Oneness [16, 18].


  1. Concept of Maya in Buddhism

In Mahayana sutras, illusion is an important theme of the Prajñāpāramitā sutras. Here, the magician’s illusion exemplifies how people misunderstand and misperceive reality, which is in fact empty of any essence and cannot be grasped. The Mahayana uses similar metaphors for illusion: “magic, a dream, a bubble, a rainbow, lightning, the moon reflected in water, a mirage, and a city of celestial musicians” [19]. Understanding that what we experience is less substantial than we believe is intended to serve the purpose of liberation from ignorance, fear, and clinging and the attainment of enlightenment as a Buddha completely dedicated to the welfare of all beings. The Prajñaparamita texts also state that all dharmas (phenomena) are like an illusion, not just the five aggregates, but all beings, including Bodhisattvas and even Nirvana [20].


Nāgārjuna, of the Mahāyāna Mādhyamika (i.e., “Middle Way”) school, discusses nirmita, or illusion closely related to Māyā. For Nagarjuna, the self is not the organizing command centre of experience, as we might think. Actually, it is just one element combined with other factors and strung together in a sequence of causally connected moments in time. As such, the self is not substantially real, but neither can it be shown to be unreal. The continuum of moments, which we mistakenly understand to be a solid, unchanging self, still performs actions and undergoes their results. “As a magician creates a magical illusion by the force of magic, and the illusion produces another illusion, in the same way the agent is a magical illusion and the action done is the illusion created by another illusion” [21]. What we experience may be an illusion, but we are living inside the illusion and bear the fruits of our actions there. We undergo the experiences of the illusion. What we do affects what we experience, so it matters [22]. In this example, Nagarjuna uses the magician’s illusion to show that the self is not as real as it thinks, yet, to the extent it is inside the illusion, real enough to warrant respecting the ways of the world. For the Mahayana Buddhist, the self is Māyā like a magic show and so are objects in the world. In Theravada Buddhism ‘Māyā’ is the name of the mother of the Buddha as well as a metaphor for the consciousness aggregate (viññana).


  1. Concept of Maya in Sikh Religion

Sikhism is classified as an Indian religion along with BuddhismHinduism and Jainism. Guru Nanak (1469-1539) is the founder of Sikh religion. The basis of Sikhism lies in the teachings of Guru Nanak and his nine successor Gurus. The Sikh scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) was compiled by Guru Arjun Dev in 1604 and is considered as the only authentic holy book in the world which includes the sacred writings of 6 Sikh Gurus, 15 Indian Saints and 15 other contributors.


According to Guru Nanak [23] the supreme purpose of human life is to reconnect with Akal (The Timeless One), however, egotism is the biggest barrier in doing this. Māyā, defined as a temporary illusion or “unreality”, is one of the core deviations from the pursuit of God and salvation: where worldly attractions which give only illusory temporary satisfaction and pain which distract the process of the devotion of God. However, Nanak emphasised Māyā as not a reference to the unreality of the world, but of its values. Sikhs believe the world is currently in a state of kali yuga (‘age of darkness’) because the world is led astray by the love of attachment to Maya [24].


The term Maya occurs 827 times in SGGS under various connotations, for example, illusion, ignorance, serpent, magic, falsehood and delusion. For sake of illustration, we may give quotes from the SGGS in support of our definition of Maya as follows:

Maya as an illusion [25 ]:
ਮਾਇਆ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਇ 
बाबा माइआ भरमि भुलाइ ॥
Bābā mā▫i▫ā bẖaram bẖulā▫e.
O Baba, Maya deceives with its illusion.

Maya as delusion [26]:

ਮਾਈ ਮਾਇਆ ਛਲੁ ਤ੍ਰਿਣ ਕੀ ਅਗਨਿ ਮੇਘ ਕੀ ਛਾਇਆ ਗੋਬਿਦ ਭਜਨ ਬਿਨੁ ਹੜ ਕਾ ਜਲੁ ॥ 
माई माइआ छलु ॥ त्रिण की अगनि मेघ की छाइआ गोबिद भजन बिनु हड़ का जलु ॥
O my mother, Maya is so misleading and deceptive. Without meditating on the Lord of the Universe, it is like straw on fire, or the shadow of a cloud, or the running of the flood-waters.


Maya as female-serpent (nagin) [27]:
ਹੋਈ ਨਾਗਨੀ ਜਗਤਿ ਰਹੀ ਲਪਟਾਇ 

माइआ होई नागनी जगति रही लपटाइ ॥
Mā▫i▫ā ho▫ī nāgnī jagaṯ rahī laptā▫e.
Maya is a serpent, clinging to the world.

ਇਸ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਜੋ ਕਰੇ ਤਿਸ ਹੀ ਕਉ ਫਿਰਿ ਖਾਇ 
इस की सेवा जो करे तिस ही कउ फिरि खाइ ॥
Is kī sevā jo kare ṯis hī ka▫o fir kẖā▫e.
Whoever serves her, she ultimately devours.


Maya as ignorance leads to spiritual darkness [28]:
ਮੋਹੁ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ਬਿਖਮੁ ਅਤਿ ਭਾਰੀ 
माइआ मोहु अगिआनु है बिखमु अति भारी ॥
Mā▫i▫ā moh agi▫ān hai bikẖam aṯ bẖārī.
Emotional attachment to Maya is spiritual darkness; it is very difficult and such a heavy load.


In SGGS, concept of Maya has been used in two different contexts: temporal and spiritual. Maya is a necessary ingredient for leading a worldly life. It denotes wealth and other worldly possessions of man. The economic structure of the society is based upon Maya (wealth). It plays a significant role in all spheres of human activity, including religion and politics. For leading a trouble-free life, Maya is a necessary evil. Guru Arjun in a hymn of SGGS beautifully describes the human predicament as both the excess and lack of Maya are dangerous [29]:

ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਤਿਸੈ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਥੋਰੀ ਸੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਭ੍ਰਮੰਤਾ 
जिसु ग्रिहि बहुतु तिसै ग्रिहि चिंता ॥ जिसु ग्रिहि थोरी सु फिरै भ्रमंता ॥
Jis garihi bahuṯ ṯisai garihi cẖinṯā. Jis garihi thorī so firai bẖarmanṯā.
The household which is filled with abundance – that household suffers anxiety.
One whose household has little, wanders around searching for more.

ਦੁਹੂ ਬਿਵਸਥਾ ਤੇ ਜੋ ਮੁਕਤਾ ਸੋਈ ਸੁਹੇਲਾ ਭਾਲੀਐ ॥੧॥
दुहू बिवसथा ते जो मुकता सोई सुहेला भालीऐ ॥१॥
Ḏuhū bivasthā ṯe jo mukṯā so▫ī suhelā bẖālī▫ai. ||1||
He alone is happy and at peace, who is liberated from both conditions.


Guru Nanak has emphatically stated that Maya cannot be amassed without using sinful means and exploitation of society but it never goes with the man after his death [30]:
ਜਰ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਘਣੀ ਵਿਗੁਤੀ ਇਨਿ ਜਰ ਘਣੀ ਖੁਆਈ 
इसु जर कारणि घणी विगुती इनि जर घणी खुआई ॥
Is jar kāraṇ gẖaṇī viguṯī in jar gẖaṇī kẖu▫ā▫ī.
For the sake of this wealth, so many were ruined; and so many have been disgraced.

ਪਾਪਾ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਮੁਇਆ ਸਾਥਿ ਨ ਜਾਈ 
पापा बाझहु होवै नाही मुइआ साथि न जाई ॥
Pāpā bājẖahu hovai nāhī mu▫i▫ā sāth na jā▫ī.
It was not gathered without sin, and it does not go along with the dead.


In Sikh religion, Guru Nanak and other Sikh Gurus laid the foundation of Sikh society on three pillars:

  1. Kirat Karni: earning an honest living to support the family;
  2. Vand Chhakna: sharing one’s earnings with others who need and giving to charity.
  3. Naam Japna: keeping God in mind at all times; meditation on qualities of God.

So generation of wealth is not forbidden in Sikh religion but it has to be earned by honest means and needs to be shared with those who are deprived of wealth and prosperity.


It is a big paradox that Maya which is the cause of separation of man from its divine source,  is created by God Himself [31 ]:

ਰੰਗੀ ਭਾਤੀ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਜਿਨਸੀ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਿਨਿ ਉਪਾਈ 
रंगी रंगी भाती करि करि जिनसी माइआ जिनि उपाई ॥
Rangī rangī bẖāṯī kar kar jinsī mā▫i▫ā jin upā▫ī.
He created the world, with its various colors, species of beings, and the variety of Maya.


Creation of Universe by God is a phenomenon based on Maya [32]:

ਆਕਾਰੁ ਉਪਾਇਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਬਣਾਇਆ 
निरंकारि आकारु उपाइआ ॥ माइआ मोहु हुकमि बणाइआ ॥
Nirankār ākār upā▫i▫ā. Mā▫i▫ā moh hukam baṇā▫i▫ā.
The Formless Lord created the universe of form.

 By the Hukam of His Command, He created attachment to Maya.


Sikhism believes that people are trapped in the world because of five vices: lust, anger, greed, attachment, and ego. Maya enables these five vices and makes a person think the physical world is “real,” whereas, the goal of Sikhism is to rid the self of them. Guru Amardas defines functions of Maya and how it traps the man in egotism [33]:

ਕਿਸ ਨੋ ਆਖੀਐ ਕਿਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ 
माइआ किस नो आखीऐ किआ माइआ करम कमाइ ॥
Mā▫i▫ā kis no ākẖī▫ai ki▫ā mā▫i▫ā karam kamā▫e.
What is called Maya? What does Maya do?

ਦੁਖਿ ਸੁਖਿ ਏਹੁ ਜੀਉ ਬਧੁ ਹੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ 
दुखि सुखि एहु जीउ बधु है हउमै करम कमाइ ॥
Ḏukẖ sukẖ ehu jī▫o baḏẖ hai ha▫umai karam kamā▫e.
These beings are bound by pleasure and pain; they do their deeds in egotism.


Guru Arjun describes another strange characteristic of Maya. Those who love it are left in the lurch but those who abandon it and do not bother about Maya, it falls at their feet [34]:

ਕਰਿ ਪਕਰੀ ਨ ਆਈ ਹਾਥਿ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਕਰੀ ਚਾਲੀ ਨਹੀ ਸਾਥਿ 
गहु करि पकरी न आई हाथि ॥ प्रीति करी चाली नही साथि ॥
Gahu kar pakrī na ā▫ī hāth. Parīṯ karī cẖālī nahī sāth.
No matter how hard you try to grab it, it does not come into your hands.

No matter how much you may love it, it does not go along with you.

ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਉ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਦਈ ਤਬ ਓਹ ਚਰਣੀ ਆਇ ਪਈ ॥੧॥
कहु नानक जउ तिआगि दई ॥ तब ओह चरणी आइ पई ॥१॥
Kaho Nānak ja▫o ṯi▫āg ḏa▫ī. Ŧab oh cẖarṇī ā▫e pa▫ī. ||1||
Says Nanak, when you abandon it, then it comes and falls at your feet. ||1||


Philosophically thinking, there sees some correspondence between Hindu concept of Maya and its counterpart in Sikh religion. However, on the basis of empirical considerations, there are basic differences among the two. Sikh religion does not consider abnegation of Maya as a human virtue. Salvation can be achieved by living a fruitful life amidst Maya [35]:

ਮਾਇਆ ਜਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ਲਾਇਆ 
एह माइआ जितु हरि विसरै मोहु उपजै भाउ दूजा लाइआ ॥
Ėh mā▫i▫ā jiṯ har visrai moh upjai bẖā▫o ḏūjā lā▫i▫ā.
This is Maya, by which God is forgotten; emotional attachment and love of duality well up.

ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਜਿਨਾ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਤਿਨੀ ਵਿਚੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੨੯॥
कहै नानकु गुर परसादी जिना लिव लागी तिनी विचे माइआ पाइआ ॥२९॥
Kahai Nānak gur parsādī jinā liv lāgī ṯinī vicẖe mā▫i▫ā pā▫i▫ā. ||29||
Says Nanak, by Guru’s Grace, those who enshrine love for the Lord find Him, in the midst of Maya. ||29||


A person entrenched in Maya and its influence is known as Mayadhari in Sikh parlance. Such persons are called blind and deaf in SGGS [36]:

ਅਤਿ ਅੰਨਾ ਬੋਲਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਨ ਸੁਣਈ ਬਹੁ ਰੋਲ ਘਚੋਲਾ 
माइआधारी अति अंना बोला ॥ सबदु न सुणई बहु रोल घचोला ॥
Mā▫i▫āḏẖārī aṯ annā bolā. Sabaḏ na suṇ▫ī baho rol gẖacẖolā.
One who is attached to Maya is totally blind and deaf. He does not listen to the Word of the Shabad; he makes a great uproar and tumult.


SGGS indicates the methodology to get out of maya-meshes of worldly life created by Maya. One has to focus his mind on the Shabad of SGGS to get rid of ill effects of Maya. Meditation on the Name of God and living the life of a Gurmukh helps the Sikh to win over the ill-effects of Maya  [37, 38]:

ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਰਿਦੈ ਦਿਖਾਇਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਜਲਾਇਆ 
गुर कै सबदि रिदै दिखाइआ ॥ माइआ मोहु सबदि जलाइआ ॥
Gur kai sabaḏ riḏai ḏikẖā▫i▫ā. Mā▫i▫ā moh sabaḏ jalā▫i▫ā.
Through the Word of the Guru’s Shabad, the Lord is seen within one’s own heart.Through the Shabad, I have burned my emotional attachment to Maya.
ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸਿਆ ਮਨਿ ਆਏ ਮਨੁ ਤਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਗਵਾਏ 
निरमल नामु वसिआ मनि आए ॥ मनु तनु निरमलु माइआ मोहु गवाए ॥
Nirmal nām vasi▫ā man ā▫e. Man ṯan nirmal mā▫i▫ā moh gavā▫e.
When the Immaculate Naam comes to dwell in the mind, the mind and body become Immaculate, and emotional attachment to Maya departs.

What is unique contribution of Sikh religion to concept of Maya in the Indian philosophy? In Hindu philosophy, development of concept of Maya and its interpretation gets transformed from Vedic period to Advaita Vedanta, which considers Brahman (God) as the only Reality and all His creation as illusion or Maya. The founder of Sikh religion, Guru Nanak, was always antipathetic to any view of the world, which denigrated its reality or made the world illusory. He was, therefore, firm on the principle that the creation is as real as the creator — it includes, besides material existence, the culture of man, his thoughts and his values. Guru Nanak discards the Vedantic conception of Reality in Asa-di-Var, and proclaims that this universe is real, not an illusion [39]:

ਤੇਰੇ ਖੰਡ ਸਚੇ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰਡ ਸਚੇ ਤੇਰੇ ਲੋਅ ਸਚੇ ਆਕਾਰ 
सचे तेरे खंड सचे ब्रहमंड ॥ सचे तेरे लोअ सचे आकार ॥
Sacẖe ṯere kẖand sacẖe barahmand. Sacẖe ṯere lo▫a sacẖe ākār.
Real are Thy continents; Real is the universe;

Real are these forms and material objects;

Thy doings are Real, O Lord.


Guru Nanak calls this world as real because this vast universe is abode of the True Lord [40]:

ਜਗੁ ਸਚੈ ਕੀ ਹੈ ਕੋਠੜੀ ਸਚੇ ਕਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਵਾਸੁ 
इहु जगु सचै की है कोठड़ी सचे का विचि वासु ॥
Ih jag sacẖai kī hai koṯẖ▫ṛī sacẖe kā vicẖ vās.
This moving universe is the divine mansion of the true Lord;

And the true one lives therein.


In Sikh religion, the world is regarded as both transitory and relatively realGod is viewed as the only reality, but within God exist both conscious souls and non-conscious objects; these created objects are also real [41]. Natural phenomena are real but the effects they generate are unreal. Māyā is as the events are real yet Māyā is not as the effects are unreal.


However, in SGGS, Māyā refers to the “grand illusion” of materialism. From this Māyā all other evils are born, but by understanding the nature of Māyā a person begins to approach spirituality. Most people are believed to suffer from the false consciousness of materialism, which leads to worldly entanglements [42, 43]:

ਮਾਇਆ ਰਚਨਾ ਧੋਹੁ ਅੰਧੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿਆ ਨਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਏਹ ਨ ਓਹੁ ॥੧॥ 
बाबा माइआ रचना धोहु ॥ अंधै नामु विसारिआ ना तिसु एह न ओहु ॥१॥
Bābā mā▫i▫ā racẖnā ḏẖohu. Anḏẖai nām visāri▫ā nā ṯis eh na oh. ||1||
O Baba, the splendor of Maya is deceptive. The blind man has forgotten the Name; he is in limbo, neither here nor there. ||1||

ਹਰਿ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਆਵਸਿ ਕਾਮਾ ਝੂਠਾ ਮੋਹੁ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਪਸਾਰੇ ॥੧॥ 

बिनु हरि अवरु न आवसि कामा झूठा मोहु मिथिआ पसारे ॥१॥
Bin har avar na āvas kāmā jẖūṯẖā moh mithi▫ā pasāre. ||1|| rahā▫o.
Without the Lord, nothing else shall be of use to you; false is emotional attachment, and useless are worldly entanglements. ||1||


In some mythologies the symbol of the snake was associated with money and Māyā in modern Punjabi refers to money. In SGGS, Bhagat Ravidas uses the Vedantic metaphor of ‘the rope mistaken for a snake’, to understand the mystery of this universe [44]:

ਰਾਜ ਭੁਇਅੰਗ ਪ੍ਰਸੰਗ ਜੈਸੇ ਹਹਿ ਅਬ ਕਛੁ ਮਰਮੁ ਜਨਾਇਆ 

राज भुइअंग प्रसंग जैसे हहि अब कछु मरमु जनाइआ ॥
Rāj bẖu▫i▫ang parsang jaise hėh ab kacẖẖ maram janā▫i▫ā.
Like the story of the rope mistaken for a snake, the mystery has now been explained to me.



  1. › jspui › bitstream, Chapter IV Concept of Maya.
  2. Donald A. Braue, Maya in Radhakrishnan’s Thought. Six meanings other than illusion, Motilal Banarsidass Pub. Pvt. Ltd., Delhi, 1984, p. 101.
  4. Vivekachudamani of Sri Sankaracharya (Trans, Swami Turiyananda), Mylapore, Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1991.
  6. S. Venkatesananda, The Concise Yoga Vasistha, State University of New York Press, ISBN978-0873959544, 1985, p. 144.
  7. H. Nakamura, (1990). A History of Early Vedānta Philosophy, Motilal Banarsidass Pub. Pvt. Ltd., Delhi, ISBN9788120806511, 1990, pp. 335-336.
  8. T. Goudriaan, Maya: Divine And Human, Motilal Banarsidass Pub. Pvt. Ltd., Delhi, ISBN978-8120823891, 2008, pp. 4 & 167.
  9. Ramnarayan Vyas, The Synthetic Philosophy of the Bhāgavata. Meharchand Lachhmandas, 1974, p. 101.
  10. Stephen H. Phillips, Epistemology in Classical India: The Knowledge Sources of the Nyaya School, Routledge, ISBN978-1138008816, Chapter 3, 2012.
  11. P.D. Shastri, The Doctrine of Maya in the Philosophy of the Vedanta,  Luzac & Co, London, 1911, p. 3.
  12.  S. Radhakrishnan, The Vedanta Philosophy and the Doctrine of Maya, International Journal of Ethics, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Jul., 1914), pp. 431-451.
  13. Donald A. Braue, Maya in Radhakrishnan’s Thought, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN978-8120822979, 2006, pp. 19-21.
  14. H.M. Vroom (1989), Religions and the Truth: Philosophical Reflections and Perspectives, Eerdmans Publishing, ISBN978-0802805027, 1989, pp. 122-123.
  15. Jeffrey Brodd, World Religions. Winona, MN: Saint Mary’s Press, 2003. ISBN978-0-88489-725-5.
  16. Frederic F. Fost, Playful Illusion: The Making of Worlds in Advaita Vedānta, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 48, No. 3, Jul., 1998, pp. 387-405.
  17. Esther A. Solomon, Avidyā: A Problem of Truth and RealityOCLC658823, 1969, pp. 269-270.
  18.  Arvind Sharma, Advaita Vedānta: An Introduction, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN978-8120820272, Delhi, 2007, pp. 19-40, 53-58, 79-86.
  19. Thinley Norbe Rinpoche, in The Dzogchen Primer, Marcia Binder Schmidt, ed. Shambala, Boston, 2002, p. 215. ISBN1-57062-829-7.
  20. Shi Huifeng. Is “Illusion” a Prajñāpāramitā Creation? The Birth and Death of a Buddhist Cognitive Metaphor.Fo Guang University, Journal of Buddhist Philosophy, Vol. 2, 2016.
  21. J.W. DeJong, Christian Lindtner (eds.) Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika Prajna Nama, quoted in Nagarjuna’s Madhyamaka: A Philosophical Introduction, Jan Westerhoff, Oxford University Press, New York, 2009, p. 163. ISBN978-0-19-537521-3.
  22. Jan Westerhoff, Nagarjuna’s Madhyamaka: A Philosophical Introduction, Oxford University Press, New York, 2009, p. 164. ISBN978-0-19-537521-3.
  24. Nirmal Singh, Searches in Sikhism. Hemkunt Press, 2008, p. 68. ISBN978-8170103677.
  25. SGGS, M.1, p.60.
  26. SGGS, M. 5, p. 717.
  27. SGGS, M.3, p. 510.
  28. SGGS, M. 3, p. 509.
  29. SGGS, M.5, p.1019.
  30. SGGS, M.1, 417.
  31. SGGS, Japuji, p. 6.
  32. SGGS, M.3, p. 1066.
  33. SGGS, M.3, p. 67.
  34. SGGS, M.5, p. 891.
  35. SGGS, M.3, p. 921.
  36. SGGS, M.3, p.313.
  37. SGGS, M.3, p. 120.
  38. SGGS, M.3, p.121.
  39. SGGS, M.1, p. 463.
  40. SGGS, M. 2, p. 463.
  41. Surinder Singh Kohli, Guru Granth Sahib: An Analytical Study.Singh Brothers, Amritsar. 1992,
  42. 262
  43. SGGS, M.1, p.15
  44. SGGS, M.5, p. 387.
  45. SGGS, Bhagat Ravidas, p. 658.

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