Maya
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MAYA

Maya, (Sanskrit: “magic” or “illusion”) a fundamental concept in Hindu philosophy, notably in the Advaita (Nondualist) school of Vedanta. Maya originally denoted the magic power with which a god can make human beings believe in what turns out to be an illusion. By extension, it later came to mean the powerful force that creates the cosmic illusion that the phenomenal world is real. For the Nondualists, maya is thus that cosmic force that presents the infinite brahman (the supreme being) as the finite phenomenal world. Maya is reflected on the individual level by human ignorance (ajnana) of the real nature of the self, which is mistaken for the empirical ego but which is in reality identical with brahman.
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Maya, (Sanskrit: “magic” or “illusion”) a fundamental concept in Hindu philosophy, notably in the Advaita (Nondualist) school of Vedanta. Maya originally denoted the magic power with which a god can make human beings believe in what turns out to be an illusion. By extension, it later came to mean the powerful force that creates the cosmic illusion that the phenomenal world is real. For the Nondualists, maya is thus that cosmic force that presents the infinite brahman (the supreme being) as the finite phenomenal world. Maya is reflected on the individual level by human ignorance (ajnana) of the real nature of the self, which is mistaken for the empirical ego but which is in reality identical with brahman.
Maya (/ˈmɑːjə/; Devanagari: माया, IAST: māyā), literally "illusion" or "magic",[1][2] has multiple meanings in Indian philosophies depending on the context. In later Vedic texts, Māyā connotes a "magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem".[2][3] Māyā is also a spiritual concept connoting that which "is constantly changing and thus is spiritually unreal" (in opposition to an unchanging Absolute), and which "conceals the true character of spiritual reality".[4][5]

In the Advaita Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy, Maya is "the powerful force that creates the cosmic illusion that the phenomenal world is real."[6] In Hinduism, Maya is also an epithet for goddess Lakshmi,[7] and the name of a manifestation of Lakshmi, the goddess of "wealth, prosperity and love". Also, Maya refers to wealth or treasure itself.
In a worldly sense maya means fraud, magic, trickery or deceit. In a philosophical sense, it refers to illusion or unreality, which hides from the world the reality of Brahman and our own essential nature. Under its influence, we come to accept that we are mere physical beings subject to aging and death, not immortal souls.

On the positive side, maya protects us from the horrors and harsh realities of life, just as our parents protected us when we were children from certain uncomfortable truths of life, while on the negative side it prevents us from knowing our true identities and overcoming our limitations. Because of maya, we remain under a spell which cannot easily be broken.

Maya is also another name for Prakriti or Nature, who is responsible for the concealment of the truths of existence from the beings of the world and creating an alternative reality that keeps them in ignorance and delusion and chained to the cycle of births and deaths.
Under the influence of the three gunas, the soul is (1) misled by matter, and (2) subsequently entangled and entrapped. This tendency is termed maya (illusion).

Under maya’s influence, the atman, (the soul) mistakenly identifies with the body. He accepts such thoughts as “I am white and I am a man,” or “This is my house, my country, and my religion.” Thus the illusioned soul identifies with the temporary body and everything connected to it, such as race, gender, family, nation, bank balance, and sectarian religion. Under this sense of false-ego (false-identity) the soul aspires to control and enjoy matter. However, in so doing he continuously serves lust, greed, and anger. In frustration he often redoubles his efforts and, compounding mistake upon mistake, only falls deeper into illusion.

In ignorance (tamas), he is fully convinced that right is wrong and wrong is right. In passion he is unsure, hesitant, sometimes enjoying and at others times repenting. Only in goodness does the soul begin to develop wisdom – to see things in the real light. Thus enlightenment means moving away from tamas towards sattva. By so doing, the soul gradually escapes the clutches of maya and moves towards liberation.
In Advaita Vedanta philosophy, maya is the limited, purely physical and mental reality in which our everyday consciousness has become entangled. Maya is believed to be an illusion, a veiling of the true, unitary Self—the Cosmic Spirit also known as Brahman. The concept of Maya was expounded in the Hindu scriptures known as the Upanishads. Many philosophies or religions seek to "pierce the veil" in order to glimpse the transcendent truth, from which the illusion of a physical reality springs, drawing from the idea that first came to life in the Hindu stream of Vedanta. Maya is neither true nor untrue. Since Brahman is the only truth, Maya cannot be true. Since Maya causes the material world to be seen, it cannot be untrue. Hence, Maya is described as indescribable. She has two principle functions—one is to cover up Brahman and hide it from our mind. The other is to present the material world instead of Brahman. She is destructible. Consider an illusion of a rope being confused as a snake in the darkness. Just as this illusion gets destroyed when true knowledge of the rope is perceived, similarly, Maya gets destroyed for a person when they perceive Brahman with transendental knowledge. A metaphor is also given—when the reflection of Brahman falls on Maya, Brahman appears as God (the Supreme Lord). In the pragmatic level, where the world is regarded as true, Maya becomes the divine magical power of the Supreme Lord, to create and rule the world. Maya is God's pious servant. God is not bound by Maya, just as a magician is not illusioned by their own magic. Hence, God is Bliss. However, unenlightened jiva are the servants of Maya, hence they are in misery.
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