Deceptive maya


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This is Maya, by which God is forgotten; emotional attachment and love of duality is born.
Says Nanak, by awakening the Guru's Grace within, those who enshrine
love for God find Him, in the midst of Maya (sggs 921).

Maya is a Sanskrit word which literally means "that which is not" - "ma" means "not", "ya" means "that". It is the imagination of the deluded mind which never ends and never exists! Thus, sages defined Maya as that phenomena which produces the impossible. Similarly, the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) defines Maya as follows:

ਮਾਧਵੇ ਕਿਆ ਕਹੀਐ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਐਸਾ ॥ ਜੈਸਾ ਮਾਨੀਐ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਤੈਸਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Maadhve kiya kaheeyai bhram aisaa. Jaisaa maaneeyai hoi na taisaa ||1||Rahaaou||: O Lord, what can I say about this illusion; what we deem a thing to be, in reality, it is not like that ||1||Pause|| (sggs 657).
God is a Shakti or energy. God's limitless potencies or energies can be grouped in two headings: (1) Spiritual energy; (2) and material energy or Maya. Hence Maya is not separate or different than the Supreme Being. In fact, Maya is His inherent power, which is responsible for the rising of mirage-like phenomenal world of names, forms, time and space.

ਆਪੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਆਪੇ ਛਾਇਆ ॥: Aape Maya Aape chhaaiaa: God Himself is Maya and (the Maya's influence - its) ignorance (sggs 125).
ਮਾਇਆ ਬੰਦੀ ਖਸਮ ਕੀ ਤਿਨ ਅਗੈ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਕਾਰ ॥: Maya bandee khasam kee tin agai kamaavai kaar: Maya, the maid-servant of God, serves them: the Lord's devotees (sggs 90).
ਏਕਮ ਏਕੈ ਆਪੁ ਉਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਦੂਜਾ ਤ੍ਰਿਬਿਧਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: Ekam ekai aap upaaia. Dubidhaa doojaa tribidh maya: Firstly the One Lord created His own-self, secondly the sense of duality, and the three-qualitied Maya (sggs 113).
So daasi Raghubeer kee: Maya is the maidservant of the Lord (Tulsi Ramayana).
Anything that emanates from the Divine is also Divine. Thus, Maya is said to be a Divine hypnosis or illusion. Whatever takes us away from the Divine Consciousness (God, Pure Self, Truth, etc.) becomes Maya for us. For example, if wealth takes us away from the Divine Nature, then the wealth becomes Maya; if the spouse, children, friends or relatives become the source of forgetfulness of our godly state, then they become Maya; if the house or other worldly possessions makes us forsake the Truth, then they become Maya; and so on. In other words, the sense of one's existence separate from the Divine Essence is Maya, or the sense of existence founded on anything other than the Supreme Spirit is called Maya - "that which is not".
ਮਾਈ ਮਾਇਆ ਛਲੁ ॥: Maayee Maya Chhall: O my mother, the Maya is deceitful (sggs 717).
ਬਾਬਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਰਚਨਾ ਧੋਹੁ ॥: Baaba Maya rachnaa dhoh: O my Father, the splendour of Maya is deceitful (sggs 15).
As defined in the Gurbani, the Maya is that Cosmic Illusion which makes us (1) forget the Self ("Hari Visrai"); (2) gives rise to emotional attachment ("Moh Upjai"); and (3) creates duality ("Bhaau Doojaa") where there is none. Three qualities or 3 Gunas - Saatav (Goodness), Raajas (passion), and Taamas (ignorance) or Sat, Raj, Tam or Sato, Rajo, Tamo - are the flowers of this poisonous tree of Mayaic illusion or Avidya. Combination of these three qualities (three thought-conditions or states of mind) in various permutation, determine one's body-mind-intellect personality.

ਏਹ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ਲਾਇਆ ॥: Eh Maya jit Hari visrai moh upjai bhaau dooja laaiaa: This is Maya, by which God is forgotten; emotional attachment and love of duality is born (sggs 921).
ਰਜ ਗੁਣ ਤਮ ਗੁਣ ਸਤ ਗੁਣ ਕਹੀਐ ਇਹ ਤੇਰੀ ਸਭ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਚਉਥੇ ਪਦ ਕਉ ਜੋ ਨਰੁ ਚੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਹੀ ਪਰਮ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੨॥: Raj gun tam gun sat gun kaheeai ih teri sabh maya. Chauthe pad kau jo nar cheenai tin hee param pad paaiaa ||2||: (O Lord) Raajas, Taamas, and Saatav modes are the creations of Your Maya. The man who realizes the Fourth State; he alone obtains the Supreme Status ||2|| (sggs 1123).
Our minds remain occupied by the mixture of these three modes of the material nature. According to the predomonance of one of these three modes of material nature acquired by our minds, one's temprament and faith can be considered as Saatavic, Raajasic, or Taamasic. In other words, these are the three thought-conditions under which the human mind functions.

Deeper Analysis of Maya's Deception

Based on Maya's definition above, it becomes clear that Maya's primary function is to allude mortals through her deceitful nature. Being attached to this cosmic delusion, the entire world is fallen into deep sleep of unenlightened existence. As a result, we are unable to apprehend the Reality. Fallen in the sway of Maya's illusion, we take an impermanent thing to be a permanent, a fake to be a real, a false to be a truth, an endfull to be an endless, an unlimited to be a limited, an infinite to be a finite, and so on.

ਇਕੋ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਜਾਗਤਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਜਗੁ ਸੂਤਾ ਮੋਹਿ ਪਿਆਸਿ ॥: Eiko satgur jaagataa hor jag sootaa mohi piaas: Only the True Guru is awake; the rest of the world is asleep in emotional attachment and desire (sggs 592).
Consider the following examples. In the moonless night, a rope laying on the ground may be mistaken for a snake. We know that the rope alone is real, not the snake. However, the non apprehension of the rope gives rise to the misapprehension of the snake. Once the darkness is removed, the rope alone remains; the snake disappears. Similarly, in the darkness of the night, a pole may be mistaken for a ghost. As the darkness is removed, the ghost disappears; only the pole remains as reality.

ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਬਾਣਿ ਬਜਰ ਕਲ ਛੇਦੀ ਪ੍ਰਗਟਿਆ ਪਦੁ ਪਰਗਾਸਾ ॥ ਸਕਤਿ ਅਧੇਰ ਜੇਵੜੀ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਚੂਕਾ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਸਿਵ ਘਰਿ ਬਾਸਾ ॥੨॥: Gur kai baani bajar kal chhedee pragatiaa padu paragasaa. Sakti adher jevarhee bhramu chookaa nihchalu siv ghari vaasaa ||2||: (One who) Has pierced the hard imagery (mind's imaginations, wanderings, perversions, ਫੁਰਨੇ, ਮਨੋ-ਕਲਪਣਾ, ਬਿਕਾਰਾਂ ਵਲ ਦੀ ਦੌੜ, etc.) with the Guru's Arrow (of the Gur-Shabad, Gur-Giaan...), (in him, the state of) Enlightenment dawns (the Light of the Aatm-Giaan, ਆਤਮਕ ਚਾਨਣ). (As in the darkness) a rope is mistaken (for a snake, but when there is light that error is realized, similarly) in the darkness of Maya (in Maya's influence or Mayaic consciousness, one mistakes and confinds this body to be the Real self, Joti-Svaroopa) but that mistake ends (when there is the Light of the Gur-Giaan, Aatm-Giaan, etc., and consequently, one), abides in the Eternal Home of the Lord. ||2|| (sggs 332).
ਰਾਜ ਭੁਇਅੰਗ ਪ੍ਰਸੰਗ ਜੈਸੇ ਹਹਿ ਅਬ ਕਛੁ ਮਰਮੁ ਜਨਾਇਆ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਕਟਕ ਜੈਸੇ ਭੂਲਿ ਪਰੇ ਅਬ ਕਹਤੇ ਕਹਨੁ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥੩॥: Raaj bhuiang prasangi jaise hahi ab kashu maramu janaaiaa || Anik katak jaiase bhooli pare kahate kahanu n aaiaa ||3||: Like the story of the rope mistaken for a snake, the mystery has now been explained to me. Like the many bracelets, which I mistakenly thought (were different from) gold; now, I do not say what I said then. ||3|| (sggs 658).
Maya is Spiritually ignorant. It is the ignorance of one's True Nature as Pure Consciousness. Ignorance begets false ego-sense. In the foregoing example, due to ignorance of the rope and the pole, we superimposed our false egoistic ideas on the reality - the rope and the pole. The result was that our non-apprehension of the reality (i.e., rope and the pole) caused its misapprehension into a snake and a ghost. Similarly, God (Pure Self, Truth, Unconditioned Awareness, etc.) alone is real. However, our non apprehension of this Changeless Reality causes its misapprehension into a phenomenal world. Thus, under the influence of this spiritually ignorant Maya, the Jeeva (unenlightened individual being) forgets the Reality and acts as his existence is separate from It.
The non-apprehension of God by an individual soul is called ignorance at the microcosmic level. However, the total non-apprehension of God by all beings is called ignorance at the macrocosmic level, which is also called Maya. For example, just as non-apprehension of the Reality is the cause of the creation of an individual's world, similarly, the total non-apprehension of the Reality by all individuals is the creation of the total world. This is why Maya is said to be the cause of the world-appearance. In the examples of the rope and the post, the ignorance of the rope or post is Maya, which is the cause of the creation of the apparent snake and ghost.Looking at Maya from an another angle, it can be seen as totality of all Vaasnaas (undigested desires). Vaasnaas are born of Self-ignorance. Each person creates its own world as a result of that individual's Self-ignorance. The sum of Vaasnaas of all individuals, born of Self-ignorance, is called Maya - the material universe or Jagat.

ਹਉਮੈ ਸਭੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਹੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਓਪਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: Haumai sabh sareer hai hayumai opati hoi: Ego is within all the bodies; and through ego the beings are born (sggs 560).
ਹਉਮੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਸੰਸਾਰਾ ॥: Haumai moh upjai sansaraa: Out of egotistic attachment, the Universe is born (sggs 1057).
God, the Timeless Principle, is infinite, unlimited, changeless, permanent, immortal, pure, unborn, etc. As all beings are made in God's true image (Joti-Svaroopa), the Spirit Soul is also said to have the same qualities. However, Maya makes our Pure and Unlimited Consciousness appear like a limited phenomenal world. As a result, we loose understanding of the Reality.

ਮਿਲਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਗਵਾਈ ॥: Mil Maya surti gavaayee: By associating with the Maya (illusion), the mortal loses Divine Understanding (sggs 989).
An infinite can not be reduced to finite. But, under the spell of Maya, an infinite Reality looks like some kind of limited phenomena. However, this emerging of unlimited as limited is only apparent to our vision or intellect since the Infinite Reality is still Infinite. This power of Maya is beyond the logic of our intellect.

ਮਤ ਭੂਲਹੁ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਜਨ ਮਾਇਆ ਭਰਮਾਇਆ ॥: Mat bhoolahu maanukh jan Maya bharmaya: Do not be fooled, O mortal being, by the illusion of this Maya (sggs 812).
Scriptures called this material world or Maya as "Jhooth" (false or fake), "Mithyaa or Bharam" (illusion), and " Sapnaa" (dream). Calling this world false, illusion and dream does not mean this world is unreal or non-existent. If this world was unreal or nonexistent then it would not have been experienced by us. Then is it real? According to our scriptures, no, it is not real. It can not be called real because it is subject to change every moment, like our mind. Thus, this material world is neither real nor unreal. Anything that can not be described as real or unreal is called "Mithyaa" or illusion in Indian scriptures. When we call this world illusion, it simply means that "what we deem it to be, it is not like that". We think it to be permanent, it is not; we think it to be nonperishable, it is not; we think it to be changeless, it is not; we think it to be eternal, it is not; we think it to be forever, it is not; we think it to be never-ending, it is not; we think it to be unlimited or infinite, it is not; we think it to be Reality, it is not. If a person mistakes a rope for a snake (or a pole for a ghost) in the darkness, then would the snake or ghost vision be real? No. Therefore, if if the man does not consider this world as Mithyaa (also spelt Mithya), then it will become the cause of his attachment and bondage, followed by the "greatest pain".

ਜਿਉ ਸੁਪਨਾ ਅਰੁ ਪੇਖਨਾ ਐਸੇ ਜਗ ਕਉ ਜਾਨਿ ॥ ਇਨ ਮੈ ਕਛੁ ਸਾਚੋ ਨਹੀ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਨੁ ਭਗਵਾਨ ॥੨੩॥: Jiou supanaa ar pekhanaa aise jag kaou jaan. In mai kashu saacho nahee Nanak binu Bhagvaan ||23||: This material world is like a dream and a show; Nanak says, wihtout the Lord, nothing is true in these ||23|| (sggs 1427).
ਨਾਨਕ ਕਹਤ ਜਗਤ ਸਭ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਜਿਉ ਸੁਪਨਾ ਰੈਨਾਈ ॥੨॥੧॥: Nanak kahat jagat sabh mithiaa jiou supnaa rainaaee ||2||1||: Nanak says, the entire material world is illusion like the nightly dream ||2||1|| (sggs 1231).
ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਜਿਉ ਝੂਠੋ ਇਹੁ ਜਗ ਦੇਖਿ ਤਾਸਿ ਉਠਿ ਧਾਵੈ ॥੧॥: Mrig trisnaa jiyu jhootho ihu jag dekhi taasi uthi dhavai ||1||: This world is false like the deer's delusion (ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ: ਠਗ-ਨੀਰ, mirage). (As a deer chases after mirage - ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ, ਠਗ-ਨੀਰ - and dies chasing it), similarly, (the Maya stricken person) on beholding this world runs after it (and suffers - ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ) ||1|| (sggs 219).
ਇਹੁ ਧਨੁ ਸੰਪੈ ਮਾਇਆ ਝੂਠੀ ਅੰਤਿ ਛੋਡਿ ਚਲਿਆ ਪਛੁਤਾਈ ॥: Ih dhan sanpai Maya jhoothee anti chhod chaliaa pachhutaaee: This wealth, property and Maya are false; (know that the mortal) in the end, departs in sorrow leaving these behind (sggs 77).
ਇਹੁ ਮੋਹੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਤੇਰੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਨ ਚਾਲੈ ਝੂਠੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ ॥: Ih moh Maya terai sang na chhallai jhoothee pareet lagaayee: This emotional attachment to Maya will not go with you; falls is to fall in love with it (sggs 78).
Many Forms of Maya's Deception

The Gurbani says: Bahu rang Maya bahu bidhi pekhee, meaning, there are many forms of Maya, in so many ways (sggs 179). That is to say, Maya puppets mortals in many forms and ways. With the exception of God and his Realized devotees, Maya spares none. Some of this Cosmic Charmer's forms and ways include false ego-sense (Haume), attachment to mundane objects, lust, delusion, desires, duality, greed, worldly pleasures, strife, jealousy, pride, family, houses, riches, worldly thoughts and love, begging God for material objects, belly (or human body), pursuit of worldly affairs, youth, money, beauty, stubborn mindedness, selfishness, and so on.

ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੂਲੁ ਹੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿ ॥: Trai gun Maya mool hai vich haumai Naam visaar: The tripple-qualitied Maya is the roots of worldly attachment, and in ego, the mortal fogets the Name (sggs 647).
ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾਮਿ ਵਿਆਪਿਆ ਸਮਝੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਗਾਵਾਰੁ ॥: Maya kaam viaapia samjhai naahee gaavaar: The man is engrossed in love for worldly objects and lust, but the ignorant man does not understand it (sggs 43).
ਬਾਬਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਇ ॥: Baabaa Maya bharam bhulaayi: O Baabaa, Maya deludes with it's delusion (sggs 60.
ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਣੀ ਸੁਤ ਬੰਧਪ ਘਰ ਨਾਰਿ ॥: Trisanaa Maya mohanee sut bandhap ghar naar: Due to love of son, relatives and wife, man is engrossed in desire for fascinating Maya (sggs 61).
ਮਾਇਆ ਵਿਚਿ ਸਹਜੁ ਨ ਊਪਜੈ ਮਾਇਆ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵਣੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਜਲੈ ਜਲਾਇ ॥: Maya vich sahaj na oopajai Maya doojai bhaai. Manmukh karam kamaavane houmai jalai jalaai: (In love of) Maya, the Sahaj Avasthaa (natural state of being, in which everyone longs to be centered) is not produced. Maya leads to the love of duality. By engaging in Manmukh activities (materiallistic, self-centered, ਮਨਮੁਖਤਾ ਵਾਲੇ ਕਰਮ, etc.), (one) only burns in Haumai (egotism) (sggs 68).
ਤਪਾ ਨ ਹੋਵੈ ਅੰਦ੍ਰਹੁ ਲੋਭੀ ਨਿਤ ਮਾਇਆ ਨੋ ਫਿਰੈ ਜਜਮਾਲਿਆ ॥: Tapaa na hovai andrahu lobhee nit Maya no phirai jajmaaliaa: He is not a penitent, whose heart is gready, and who ever hankers after Maya like a leper (sggs 315).
ਸੁਆਦ ਬਾਦ ਈਰਖ ਮਦ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਇਨ ਸੰਗਿ ਲਾਗਿ ਰਤਨ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥੩॥: Suaad baad eerakh mad Maya. In sang laag ratan janam gavaaiaa ||3||: Tastes (pleasures etc.), conflicts and jealousy are intoxication with Maya. Attached to these, one wastes his gem like life (sggs 741).
ਦੇਖਿ ਕੁਟੰਬੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਸਾਕਤੁ ਜੰਜਾਲਿ ਪਰਾਲਿ ਪਇਆ ॥੯॥: Dekh kutumb Maya grih mandar saakat janjaal praal paya ||9||: Gazing upon his family, wealth, household and mansions, the faithless cynic is engaged in worthless worldly affairs ||9|| (sggs 906).
ਮਾਇਆ ਮਮਤਾ ਪਵਹਿ ਖਿਆਲੀ ॥: Maya mamataa pavahi khiaalee: You are distracted by thoughts of Maya and worldly attachment (sggs 993).
ਮਾਇਆ ਮਨਹੁ ਨ ਵੀਸਰੈ ਮਾਂਗੈ ਦੰਮਾ ਦੰਮ ॥ ਸੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਚਿਤਿ ਨ ਆਵਈ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਹੀ ਕਰੰਮ ॥੧॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਸਾਥਿ ਨ ਚਲਈ ਕਿਆ ਲਪਟਾਵਹਿ ਅੰਧ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਕੇ ਚਰਣ ਧਿਆਇ ਤੂ ਤੂਟਹਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਬੰਧ ॥੨॥: Maya manhu na veesrai mangai dumma damm || So prabh chit na avayee Nanak nahee karmam ||1|| Maya saath n chalee kiaa lapataavahi andh || gur kae charan dhhiaae thoo thoottehi maaeiaa bandhh ||2||: (That person) whose mind does not forget Maya, and ask for (more and more) Maya each and every breath, who does not remember God, O Nanak, (know that) he is unfortunate (ਉਸ ਦੇ ਭਾਗ ਚੰਗੇ ਨਹੀਂ ਹਨ) ||1|| O blind (Jeeva)! Maya will not go along with you, so why do you cling to it? Meditate on the Guru's Feet, and the bonds of Maya will be cut away from you ||2|| (sggs 1093).
ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਜਿਸੁ ਉਦਰੁ ਤਿਸੁ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: Kahi Kabeer jis udar tis maya: Says Kabeer, whoever has a belly to fill, is under the spell of Maya (sggs 1160).
ਮਾਇਆ ਧੰਧਾ ਧਾਵਣੀ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਕਾਰ ਬਿਕਾਰ ॥: Maya dhandaa dhaavanee durmat kaar bikaar: The persuit of Maya and worldly affairs is the sinful act of an evil-minded person (sggs 1343).
ਜੋਬਨ ਰੂਪ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਦ ਮਾਤਾ ਬਿਚਰਤ ਬਿਕਲ ਬਡੌ ਅਭਿਮਾਨੀ ॥: Joban roop Maya mad Maataaa bichrat bikal badou abhimaanee: Mortal is intoxicated with the vine of youth, beauty, and the riches of Maya; he wanders around perplexed, in excessive egotistical pride (sggs 1387).
Maya Compared To

A fly is always attracted by a filthy environment. Maya is akin to that fly. As the environment becomes clean, the fly disappears from that place. Similarly, by nature, Maya is also attracted by a filthy mind. As the mind becomes clean or pure, Maya too disappears. With its departure, Jeeva (individual being) links back to his Original Source.
ਸਾਰਗ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥ ਮਾਖੀ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਤੂ ਮਾਖੀ ॥ ਜਹ ਦੁਰਗੰਧ ਤਹਾ ਤੂ ਬੈਸਹਿ ਮਹਾ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਮਦ ਚਾਖੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਕਿਤਹਿ ਅਸਥਾਨਿ ਤੂ ਟਿਕਨੁ ਨ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਇਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਦੇਖੀ ਆਖੀ ॥ ਸੰਤਾ ਬਿਨੁ ਤੈ ਕੋਇ ਨ ਛਾਡਿਆ ਸੰਤ ਪਰੇ ਗੋਬਿਦ ਕੀ ਪਾਖੀ ॥੧॥ ਜੀਅ ਜੰਤ ਸਗਲੇ ਤੈ ਮੋਹੇ ਬਿਨੁ ਸੰਤਾ ਕਿਨੈ ਨ ਲਾਖੀ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਦਾਸੁ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨਿ ਰਾਤਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਚੁ ਸਾਖੀ ॥੨॥੯੯॥੧੨੨॥: Saarag Mahalaa 5 || Maakhee Raam kee tu Maakhe...: Saarag Mahalaa 5. O fly (i.e., Maya)! You are just a fly, created by God. Wherever it stinks, you land there; you suck in the most toxic stench ||1||Pause||. You don’t stay put anywhere; I have seen this with my eyes. You have not spared anyone, except the godly souls; for they are on God's side. You have enticed all beings and creatures; no one knows You, except the godly Beings ||1||. Slave Nanak is imbued with the Kirtan; focusing his consciousness on the Shabad, he realizes the God's Presence within ||2||99||122|| (sggs 1227).
Maya is also likened to clouds. At times, though temporarily, clouds may cover the sun or the moon or stars from our vision. However, this covering is only apparent to our limited vision as the sun, the moon and stars are not actually covered. Maya is the power which brings about this apparent becoming. With this power, Maya makes an infinite appears like a finite phenomena.

ਮਾਇਆ ਰੰਗ ਬਿਰੰਗ ਖਿਨੈ ਮਹਿ ਜਿਉ ਬਾਦਰ ਕੀ ਛਾਇਆ ॥: Maya rang birang khinai mahi jiou baadar kee chaaiaa: Like the shade of cloud, the pleasures of Maya fade away in an instant (sggs 1003).
ਧੂੰਮ ਬਾਦਰ ਸਭਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਸਾਜ ॥: Dhoom baadar sabh Maya saaj: All the show of Maya is just a cloud of smoke (sggs 1192).
Maya is like a she-elephant used for capturing he-elephant. Under the spell of lust, male elephant gets lured towards the she-elephant and gets captured and become slave. Similarly, Maya lures and entraps mortals. Maya can also be compared with a mountain of smoke, which can create an illusion of a real mountain. However, in reality, it is just a smoke, not a real mountain.

ਕਾਲਬੂਤ ਕੀ ਹਸਤਨੀ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਚਲਤੁ ਰਚਿਓ ਜਗਦੀਸ ॥ਕਾਮ ਸੁਆਇ ਗਜ ਬਸਿ ਪਰੇ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਅੰਕਸੁ ਸਹਿਓ ਸੀਸ ॥੧॥ ਬਿਖੈ ਬਾਚੁ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਚੁ ਸਮਝੁ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ॥: Kaalaboot kee hasatanee mann bouraa re chalat rachio jagadees. Kaam suaai gaj bas pare mann bouraa re ankas sahiou sees. Bikhai baach har raach samajh mann bouraa re. bikhai baach har raach samajh man bouraa re: Like the straw figure of a female elephant, fashioned to trap the bull elephant, O crazy mind, the Lord of the Universe has staged the drama of this world. Attracted by the lure of sexual desire, the elephant is captured, O crazy mind, and now the halter is placed around its neck. || 1|| So escape from corruption and immerse yourself in the Lord; take this advice, O crazy mind (sggs 335-336).
ਇਹੁ ਜਗੁ ਧੂਏ ਕਾ ਪਹਾਰ ॥ ਤੈ ਸਾਚਾ ਮਾਨਿਆ ਕਿਹ ਬਿਚਾਰਿ ॥੧॥: Ih jag dhooye kaa pahaar. Tai saacha maniya kih bichaar ||1||: This material world is the mountain of smoke; what thought has made to believe it to be real? ||1|| (sggs 1187-1188).
Maya is akin to a net or trap utilized for capturing birds or fish. Maya uses her deceptive appearance as bait to snare the mortals. Maya is also compared with sugar or molasses. As the sugar and molasses attract fly, Maya attracts mortals with the enchanting sense-objects. The love for Maya or worldly valuables may also be compared with the love of an accursed, ugly, unchaste, sorcerer woman. Yet, another way of looking at Maya is to see it as a serpent clinging to the world.

ਮਾਇਆ ਜਾਲੁ ਪਸਾਰਿਆ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਚੋਗ ਬਣਾਇ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਪੰਖੀ ਫਾਸਿਆ ਨਿਕਸੁ ਨ ਪਾਏ ਮਾਇ ॥: Maya jaal pasaariaa bheetar chog banaai. Trisnaa pankhee phaasiaa nikis n paae maai: Maya has spread out her net and in it has placed the bait (ਵਿਸ਼ਿਆਂ ਦਾ ਚੋਗਾ ਜਾਲ, sensuousness, sense-gratifications, Bikaars, desires, etc.). The bird of desire (instinctive mind, ਜੀਵ-ਪੰਖੀ, etc.) is caught, and cannot find any escape, O (my) mother (sggs 50).
ਜਿਉ ਨਲਨੀ ਸੂਅਟਾ ਗਹਿਓ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਮਾਯਾ ਇਹੁ ਬਿਉਹਾਰੁ ॥ ਜੈਸਾ ਰੰਗੁ ਕਸੁੰਭ ਕਾ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਤਿਉ ਪਸਰਿਓ ਪਾਸਾਰੁ ॥੩॥: Jiou nalanee sooataa gahio man baouraa re maya ih biouhaar ...: Like the parrot caught in the trap (by sitting on the Nalanee), O crazy mind, you are trapped by the affairs (ਵਰਤਾਰਾ, ਸਲੂਕ) of Maya. Like the weak dye of the safflower, O crazy mind, so is the expanse of this material world (i.e., temporary, fleeting, etc.). ||3|| (sggs 336).
ਗੁੜੁ ਮਿਠਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਪਸਰਿਆ ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਲਗਿ ਮਾਖੀ ਪਚੈ ਪਚਾਇ ॥੧॥: Gur mithaa Maya pasriaa manmukh lagi maakhee pachai pachaai ||1||: Maya spreads out like sweet molasses; the Manmukh (material being) is stuck like a fly, rotting away |11|| (sggs 41).
ਸਕਰ ਖੰਡੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਤਨਿ ਮੀਠੀ ਹਮ ਤਉ ਪੰਡ ਉਚਾਈ ਰੇ ॥: Sakkar khand Maya tan meethee ham tayo pand uchaaee re: Maya is so sweet to the body, like sugar or molasses; we all carry loads of it (sggs 156).
ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਧਰਕਟੀ ਨਾਰਿ ॥ ਭੂੰਡੀ ਕਾਮਣਿ ਕਾਮਣਿਆਰਿ ॥: Maya moh dharkatee naar. Bhoondee kaaman kaamanaar: Love of Maya is like a cursed woman, ugly, dirty, and promiscuous (sggs 796).
ਮਾਇਆ ਹੋਈ ਨਾਗਨੀ ਜਗਤਿ ਰਹੀ ਲਪਟਾਇ ॥ ਇਸ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਜੋ ਕਰੇ ਤਿਸ ਹੀ ਕਉ ਫਿਰਿ ਖਾਇ ॥: Maya hoee naaganee jagti rahee lataai. Is kee sevaa jo kare tis hee kaou phir khaai: Maya is a serpent, clinging to the world. Whoever serves her, she ultimately devours (that person) (sggs 510).
Maya: The Greatest Pain
Maya's offspring are false ego-sense, lust, anger, greed, attachment, self-conceit, enviousn ess, jealousy, stubborn mindedness, and their numerous variations. These evil instincts loot our Spiritual heritage day and night, turning our attachment to Maya a greatest pain. Afflicted with this pain, man wanders like deer running after delusion of water in the desert. Caught up in the whirlpool of this Maya, mortals experience repeated suffering.

ਮਾਇਆ ਜੇਵਡੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਨਹੀ ਸਭਿ ਭਵਿ ਥਕੇ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥: Maya jevad dukh nahee sabh bhav thake sansaar: No pain is as great as that of attachment with Maya; infected with it, one grows weary of wandering in the entire world (sggs 39).
ਮਾਇਆ ਪਟਲ ਪਟਲ ਹੈ ਭਾਰੀ ਘਰੁ ਘੂਮਨਿ ਘੇਰਿ ਘੁਲਾਵੈਗੋ ॥ ਪਾਪ ਬਿਕਾਰ ਮਨੂਰ ਸਭਿ ਭਾਰੇ ਬਿਖੁ ਦੁਤਰੁ ਤਰਿਓ ਨ ਜਾਵੈਗੋ ॥: Maya patal patal hai bhaaree ghar ghooman gher ghulaavaigo ...: The veil of Maya is thick and heavy, a whirlpool which destroys one’s home. Sins and corrupt vices are totally heavy, like rusted slag. They will not let you cross over the poisonous and treacherous world-ocean (sggs 1308).
ਉਪਜਹਿ ਬਿਨਸਹਿ ਬੰਧਨ ਬੰਧੇ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਇਆ ਕੇ ਗਲਿ ਫੰਧੇ ॥: Upjahi binsahi bandhan bandhe ||Houmai Maya ke gal fandhe ||: Bound in bondage, mortals come and go. The noose of egotism and Maya is around their necks (sggs 1041).
Mortals: Puppet of Maya

According to the scriptures, Maya is puppet of God. On the other hand, Jeeva (unenlightened individual being) is puppet of this Maya. Upon inquiry, we will find that beyond senses there are sense-objects; beyond sense-objects there is mind; beyond mind there is intellect; beyond intellect there is soul; beyond soul there is Maya; and beyond Maya there is the Divine Principle. In other words, the Divine controls Maya, the Maya controls soul, the soul controls intellect, the intellect controls mind, the mind controls sense objects, and the sense objects control our bodily senses.

ਇਹੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਪੁਤਲਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਦੁਸਟੀ ਪਾਈ ॥: Ih sareer maya kaa putlaa vich hayumai dustee paayee: This body is the puppet of Maya. The evil of egotism is within it (sggs 31).
Scriptures remind us that even demigods and goddesses are under the influence of Maya. This is the reason worship of demigods or goddesses is rejected not only in the Gurbani but also in the Vedic scriptures. People who worship them are called foolish, ignorant or spiritually blind. This is why a man under the influence of Maya cannot help others to attain Freedom from it.

ਦੇਵੀ ਦੇਵਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਹੈ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: Devi devaa mool hai Maya: Maya is the origin of demigods (sggs 129).
ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੇ ਦੇਵੀ ਸਭਿ ਦੇਵਾ ॥: Maya mohe devi sabh devaa: Maya has deluded all demigods (sggs 227).
Kaamais tais tair hrta-giaanah prapadyante nya-devtaah: Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods (Gita 7-20).
Liberation From Maya

Liberation from Maya dose not constitute disappearance of material energy or world. It is the change in one's vision. It is the ceasing of the conditioned mind's imagining. Thus, transcending Maya simply means living in the material world but not of it. It is liberation from ignorance: false ego-sense, bondage, or limitedness. As the lotus flower remains untouched by water and mud it grows in, similarly, the liberated man remains untouched or unaffected in the midst of Maya. However, out of millions, one is shrewd enough to seek that Higher State while living in the midst of happenings of the world. Rest of us choose to ceaselessly remain intoxicated and deluded with the vine of Maya. What a paradox that in spite of so much suffering and misery only one out of millions chooses God over matter!

Man is given the power of free will. However, as the scriptures point out, most of us choose to fall in love with worldly objects (Maya). As a hypnotized person may be made to think, act, feel, and will according to the directions of the hypnotist, similarly, all senses of a person under the spell of Maya turn outward towards the perception of material objects instead of inward toward the real Self (God, Pure Consciousness, Truth, etc.). As a result, man becomes habit-bound, just as an instinct-guided animal. To attain the precious state of God-realization in such a faithless and cynical state of mind is very difficult indeed.

How one can conquer the formidable fortress of Maya? This fortress is reinforced with double walls and triple moats. Its mean of defense are five elements, with their twenty-five categories, attachment, pride, jealousy, and the awesomely powerful Maya. Lust is the window of this fortress; pain and pleasures are the gatekeepers; virtue and sin are the gates. Quarrelsome anger is the great supreme commander, and mind is the rebel king there. Their armor is the pleasure of taste and flavors, their helmets are worldly attachments; they take their aim with the bows of their corrupt intellect. The greed that fills their heart is the arrow. How mortals can conquer this impregnable fortress? The Gurbani tells us that - by becoming the Gurmukh (spiritual Being, etc.) - Maya can be killed with the Gur-Shabad.

ਨਾਨਕ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਮਾਰਣੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਇ ॥੨॥: Nanak Maya kaa maaran Sabad hai gurmukh paaiaa jaai ||2||: O Nanak, Shabad is the killer of Maya (ਮਾਇਆ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਭਾਵ ਮੁਕਾਣ ਦਾ ਵਸੀਲਾ), and it is obtained by becoming the Gurmukh ||2|| (sggs 853).
As time and again mentioned in the scriptures, if we intend to conquer this fortress of Maya, then we must transcend its three qualities. This can only be Realized by eradicating one's false "I-ness" - rising up to the platform of Divine Consciousness through Self-knowledge and Devotion. One can cultivate Pure Devotion and Self-knowledge by following the injunctions of the scriptures such as developing Bairagya (or Bairaag) - perfect detachment, inner inquiry (Shabad-Vichaar), keeping Spiritual or Holy Company within and without (Satsang), taking control of the mind, engaging in meditation (Jap or Naam-Simran), engaging in God-centered activities, practicing selfless love and Sevaa (service), reading scriptures diligently, and so on.

ਬਿਨੁ ਬੈਰਾਗ ਨ ਛੂਟਸਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Bin bairaag na shootas maya ||1||: Without detachment, Maya cannot be gotten rid of (cannot be liberated from Maya, etc.) ||1|| (sggs 329).
ਜਾ ਕਉ ਰੇ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਕਰੈ ਜੀਵਤ ਸੋਈ ਮਰੈ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਤਰੈ ॥: Jaa kaou re kirpaa karai jeevat soiee marai saadh sang Maya trai: Unto whom the Lord showers His mercy, becomes living-liberated; and by joining the company of the Holy, one can cross the ocean of Maya (sggs 213).
ਮਾਇਆ ਦਾਸੀ ਭਗਤਾ ਕੀ ਕਾਰ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥: Maya daasee bhagataa kee kaar kamaavai: Maya is the slave of the Lord's devotees; it works for them (sggs 231).
ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਤੇ ਮਨੁ ਵਸਿ ਆਇਆ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਤਰੀ ਤਿਨਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: Prabh kirapaa te manu vasi aaiaa. Nanak gurmukh taree tin Maya: IBy awakening the Divine Grace within, the mind is brought under control; O Nanak, one who has become Gurmukh crosses over the ocean of Maya (sggs 385).
ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਣੀ ਦੂਜੈ ਲਗੈ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਨਾ ਇਹ ਮਾਰੀ ਨ ਮਰੈ ਨਾ ਇਹ ਹਟਿ ਵਿਕਾਇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਪਰਜਾਲੀਐ ਤਾ ਇਹ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਉਜਲਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਮਾਰਣੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਇ ॥੨॥: Haumai Maya mohanee doojai lagge jaae. Naa ih maaree na marai naa ih haat vikaai ...: Ego Maya is fascinating, (under its influence, forgetting the One God) one gets trapped in duality. It's not something that can be killed or something that dies itself, and it's not something that's sold at a store. When it is burnt through the Gur-Shabad, then it departs from within. (From within whom Haume Maya is so departed) that body and mind become pure, and the Name comes to dwell within the mind. O Nanak, Shabad is the killer of Maya (ਮਾਇਆ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਭਾਵ ਮੁਕਾਣ ਦਾ ਵਸੀਲਾ), and it is obtained by becoming the Gurmukh ||2|| (sggs 853).
ਸਿਮਰਤ ਨਹ ਕਿਉ ਮੁਰਾਰਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਾ ਕੀ ਚੇਰੀ ॥: Simarath nah kiou muraar Maya jaa kee chaeree: Why not meditate on the Lord? Even Maya is His slave (sggs 1352).
ਮਾਇਆ ਦਾਸੀ ਭਗਤਾ ਕੀ ਕਾਰ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥: Maya daasee bhagataa kee kaar kamaavai: Maya is the slave of the Lord's devotees; it works for them (sggs 231).
By singing His Praises, divine love wells up within the devotee; and the trap of Maya is broken (sggs 979).
ਵਿਚਹੁ ਆਪੁ ਮੁਆ ਤਿਥੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਨ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: Vichahu aap muaa tithai mohu na maya: When selfishness and conceit (false "I") are eradicated from within, then there is no attachment to Maya (sggs 121).
ਮਾਇਆ ਕੋ ਸੰਗੁ ਤਿਆਗੁ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਜੂ ਕੀ ਸਰਨਿ ਲਾਗੁ ॥: Maya ko sangu tiaag prabh joo kee saran laag: Abandon your association with Maya, and take shelter in the Sanctuary of God--Divine Naam (sggs 1352).
"This cosmic energy of Mine called Maya, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is dificult to overcome. But those who have surrender unto Me can easily cross beyond it" (Gita 7-14).
An Old Man And His Seventeen Elephants

There is a legend to the effect that an old man had three sons and seventeen elephants. According to his will, the first son was to inherit one-half the elephants, the second son one-third, and the third son one-ninth. After the old man passed away, his sons began fighting among themselves as the number seventeen was not divisible by any number itself. As they were arguing, a Wise Man came that way riding on an elephant. He asked them the cause of their arguing. After inquiry, the Wise Man told them that he could solve their problem. He added his elephant to the seventeen to make the total of eighteen. According to their father's will, he gave the first son nine elephants (one-half of 18), the second son six elephants (one-third of 18), the third son two elephants (one-ninth of 18). Since the total of 9+6+2=17, his elephant was left over and he rode away on it. Here we can see that the Wise Man played the role of a Giaanee (Man of Light), and his elephant played the role of Maya. Once the Wise Man solved the problem, the Maya rode away with him!

ਜਿਹਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਮਤਾ ਤਜੀ ਸਭ ਤੇ ਭਇਓ ਉਦਾਸੁ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੁਨੁ ਰੇ ਮਨਾ ਤਿਹ ਘਟਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥੧੮॥: Jih Maya mamtaa tajee sabh te bhayio udaas. Kahu Nanak sun re manaa tih ghat Brahm nivaas ||18||: One who renounces Maya and possessiveness and is detached from everything - says Nanak, listen, mind: God abides in his heart ||18|| (sggs 1427).
ਸੁਣਿ ਸਿਖਵੰਤੇ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬਿਨਵੈ ਛੋਡਹੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਾਲਾ ॥: Suni sikhavante Nanak binavai shodahu Maya jaalaa: Listen, O advice-seeker (ਸਿੱਖਿਆ ਸੁਣਨ ਵਾਲਾ, seeker of Truth, seeker of the Guru's Instructions or Teaching, etc.) - Nanak entreats you to renounce the traps of Maya (by chanting of the Lord's Name in your heart) (sggs 503).
I keep forgetting to say:

Thank you for this Thread Topic. It is very precient.
Try reading this:

yes in maya regions there are many worlds plus our physical plane...but all are still being categorise as MAYA.. physical plane plus it s shadow counterpart is called maya.. if there is no physical plane then there is no shadow part of it... in the region of maya,,the true plane is the physical plane.. it s here where we get a chance to be born as a human being.. it s only true human birth the soul will get a chance for salvation.. to liberate the soul from cycles of repeated births n death.. tq
ma, as a root word, in sanskrit, means to measure, to make. Ya, as a root word, means to give, or furnish, and so maya, rather than being "not that", is, instead,

"the given measure"... possibly...

(that, in sanskrit, is usually tat).

Just thought I'd mention it....


maya is usually translated to mean "illusion", and, as a goddess, in hindu/brahmanism, as far as I'm aware, hides the reality (Brahma)... so, maya is asat "not being", as opposed to sat: being. They are paired, in my opinion, to express the idea that there cannot be one without the other -- both sat and asat is Brahma. But, I could be wrong...
You are not wrong, Sam. both sat and asat is Brahman, so also existence and non-existence. We see non-existence as something strange, but it is perhaps only the other side of the coin.