vijay kumar

Vedanta Philosophy - Maya - Advaita Vedanta

Query: Explain the concept of Maya veil of ignorance in Advaita Vedanta of Adi Shankaracharya

Vijay Kumar:
Advaita Vedanta: Having seen the Sun, what interest would one have in the power of a candle or a bulb? The concept of Maya Veil of Ignorance as advocated and preached by Adi Shankaracharya is an irrefutable fact. There is no denying it. Nothing exists beyond advaita vedanta... the truth is one and only one. Every concept can have many variations similarly as one Human being is also a father, son, uncle and so on. As the relationship the terminology changes. The anekantavada philosophy of Bhagwan Mahavira confirms this.

Whatever sprouts first is the base... it is much more stronger than the later offshoots. This phenomenon is not only applicable to plants but this is a cosmic phenomenon. Lord Krishna came first and gave the philosophy of Bhagavad Gita... it is the base document for the total mankind. Subsequently came Bhagwan Mahavira. He did not preach nor advocated all the fundamentals contained in Bhagavad Gita.

If Bhagavad Gita contains 700 shlokas then it is but possible that Bhagwan Mahavira understood 600 of them and continued further. It was immaterial to him whether he understood the bhagavad gita in totality or not. What he only wanted was hold on to some of the gems of wisdom contained in bhagavad gita and continue further.

When Lord Krishna descended on Mother Earth (considered an Avatar) let us say it was the peak hour around 12 o'clock noon. Considering Sun shines brightest at this moment of time and with passage of time the intensity of the Sunlight decreases. At around four o'clock in the evening we shall find that warmth the sunrays provided during the peak hours did not exist. It is this time when Bhagwan Mahavira descended on Mother Earth as a man God... a human god!

Out of 700 shlokas... even 600 shlokas were sufficient for Bhagwan Mahavira. After about 77 years came Gautama Buddha. His teachings can be considered to contain say 500 shlokas. As time passed by came Jesus Christ, then Prophet Mohammed and finally Adi Shankaracharya. During the times of Adi Shankaracharya... Hinduism was in a declining phase. He considered it his utmost responsibility that Bhagavad Gita retains its cosmic lustre. He wrote a commentary on Bhagavad Gita so that the wisdom of the ages contained in Bhagavad Gita could reach the masses. His commentary was without any dross. It was as it is. Life always rotates full circle.

He was very successful in his attempt. Whatever was preached and taught by Adi Shankaracharya was nothing else other than whatever had been preached by Lord Krishna to Arjuna during the battle of Mahabharata between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Having understood the crux of the doctrine of our real self, our atman the soul within in its entirety... there was no element of doubt in the mind of Adi Shankaracharya and all was put forward in the commentary on Bhagavad Gita by him. In fact Adi Shankaracharya laid bare the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita as was annotated by Lord Krishna. Adi Shankaracharya added nothing additional of his own that could dilute the teachings of Bhagavad Gita.

In the modern times it is a pitiable fact that the commentators because of their limited understanding and vested interests distort most commentaries. Where in the Quran does Mohammed prophet say that we must kill animals and eat the flesh? Jesus Christ preached the doctrine of "love thy neighbor" and the masses have found a convenient way to express their physical love towards another. Out of context expressions find way in most commentaries rotating in the community. With Adi Shankaracharya it was not so... he was merely an instrument in between and whatever Lord Krishna had to say, "it was just putting bhagavad gita in a simplified way to the masses".

Adi Shankaracharya only advocated one path and that was Advaita philosophy of Vedanta. The Advaita philosophy of Vedanta indicates presence of one God, the one and only Almighty Creator. There is no duality in the commentary on Bhagavad Gita put forward by Adi Shankaracharya. There was only one school of thought. There was only one Sun to be considered... the question of duality did not exist. Everything in the cosmos rotated around one God Almighty... also termed as Brahman, Parmatman, Karta, Ishwar, and many more in Hinduism.

That duality in the cosmic system exists as much as there is day and also a night. The power of Satan is considered equivalent to the power of God but in negative terms. If the power of God is considered plus hundred then the power of Satan is minus hundred. The prime reason why Satan sometimes becomes more active than God and it is this time when the Humanity awaits an Avatar. (The sum total of the cosmic energy at any given point of time always remains zero).

Presently, in the Kali Yuga phase (the metal age) we are passing through... all are awaiting with abated breath the advent of Bhagwan Kalki... one who shall destroy the Kali Yuga the metal age and start Satyuga the golden era. The prevailing circumstances in the society today demand the advent of an Avatar at any given moment of time. It is only an Avatar who can counteract with the power of Satan. At this stage even man gods like Bhagwan Mahavira, Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ and prophet Mohammed would fail. The reason why Bhagwan Mahavira, Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ and prophet Mohammed are known as man gods and not an Avatar (god manifest in human form).

Bhagavad Gita explicitly makes it clear that God Almighty is one and only one. There can be many facets of God, as the concept of Trinity that exists both in Christianity and also in Hinduism. In Hinduism we have the Trinity of Brahma (the creative power of God) , Vishnu (the preserver and the maintainer of the total cosmic system) and Mahesh (the destroyer who maintains the balance in the cosmos... aka Shiva). All these three forms are different facets of God Almighty Creator.

In the commentary on Bhagavad Gita by Adi Shankaracharya... extra emphasis has been laid on the process of Neti (not this... not this), the doctrine preached and advocated by Maharishi Ramana.

It is the practice of Neti (not this... not this) while proceeding on the path of jnana yoga that the concept of Advaita (meaning one and only one) becomes absolutely clear. After self realization, the concept of Maya Veil of Ignorance becomes so crystal clear that all doubts subside for ever. While proceeding on the path of Neti and rejecting everything in the Cosmos as not this, not this we finally land ourselves face-to-face with God Almighty. Only then the concept of Maya Veil of Ignorance becomes clear.

Had there been a beginning of the cosmos... the foremost question would arise that what before the beginning of the cosmos. Every beginning announces the end of a system. There can never be a beginning that does not have an end. It is only the ending of the first phase that announces the beginning of the second phase. In the domain of God Almighty till date none has been able to clarify the concept of the beginning of the cosmos... the first beginning. What before that?

The whole cosmos does not seem to have a boundary. Even if we consider that it does have one then, what beyond the boundary? Every logical conclusion... every theory seems to end here. Why... for there is no conclusion of this matter. This is not an open and shut case. We are talking of the beginning less cosmos... the one without a beginning. Here we must not confuse ourselves with intermittent beginning of a new cosmos and the subsequent dissolution (pralaya in Hinduism). These are the intermittent phases between one cosmos and the other.

When one cosmos disintegrates... it is but certain that a new cosmos shall form. There is at all no gap between the disintegrating cosmos and the new cosmos. The beginning of a new cosmos is now even accepted by the scientistific fraternity). Nothing is in control of someone... not even God Almighty. All is the result of a system that cannot err. It is a happening that occurs on its own.

Analyzing the concept of boundary of the cosmos again and again makes us believe the fact that the cosmos does not seem to have a boundary. And anything that does not seem to have a boundary can never exist. And what this indicates towards is that the whole World, in fact the whole cosmos is an imagination of God. Nothing exists in reality. It is only the veil of ignorance, the concept of Maya (Veil of Ignorance in Hinduism) that makes a human being believe that the World and the cosmos is for real whereas it is just like passing through a dreamy state by God Almighty.

As in dreams, whatever occurs seems to be something for real but never exists in reality... it just cannot be a hallucination or a faulty imagination of the physical being. The moment we are out of the dreamy state, it is all over with us. We are never able to understand the true concept of dreams. Is it for real or is it just because of the veil of ignorance that we do not get to the absolute truth. Similarly as we have a whole cosmos in our dreams, the present cosmos in that exists our mother earth is but a dreamy state of God Almighty.

There seems to be no other possibility. All theories and concepts fail here. For if it were not so then the cosmos must have had a concrete boundary. When the boundary does not exist we take it for granted that it is all the doing of God Almighty who has hidden the facts from the mortal Human Being and keeps him ever puzzled on the issue. Only when one realizes god... does the absolute truth dawn upon one. The reason why the veil of ignorance (Maya in Hinduism) got created by God Almighty!

Think for a moment that while creating mankind God thought that if I make something... the form of a human being which is required to do Karma on its own then there may come a stage that the intelligent being a human being is may stop doing any Karma at all. This would lead to the collapse of the total system... everything stagnating and dying a premature death. It is only the ego within a human being that makes the whole system going... something that makes one perform Karma whether to our liking or not.

Only after one takes complete control of senses and the mind that a human being finally surrenders himself on the altar of God Almighty and A stage... when the Human being is devoid of ego at all. The ego of a human being vanishing forever, ones identity lost forever... one becomes purified and atman (soul) merges with God Almighty.

For every Human being to continue doing ones Karma... God created the illusion of Maya (veil of ignorance). To achieve this he planted himself in a minuscule form in every living being as ones soul atman within our heart. Every human being... rather every living form continues on the basis of the ego within. Devoid of ego... no living being on its own would have continued performing the requisite Karma for long. Ultimately, everything in the cosmos would have become stand still.

As a being... one lives life on ones own terms! Never realizing... the fruits of our Karma not being utilized by us for they were never meant for the body but for atman the soul within that has taken the body! The body of a human being... Jiva (a body comprising of an Atman, the soul within) continues performing its Karma owing to the veil of ignorance implanted in every living being.

At any stage in life one can stop doing Karma but can we? Our ego resists the same! Every human being rather every living being inherently understands that the theory of evolution advocated by Charles Darwin prevails in the end. It is the survival of the fittest that is the governing principle of life. If we do not perform (our karma)... we shall wither and die. The Jiva (living being) supported by its ego continues performing its Karma... results of this Karma always and ever availed by our atman the soul within.

What a wonderful way God has created for one to work on behalf of the other. Every living being continues performing Karma for its own benefit... prompted by our ego within. Had there been no concept of ego... every living being would have stopped working long back. The whole cosmos would have stagnated and died a premature death. Truly speaking... the mere concept of creation of a cosmos would have failed.

It is this concept that nothing exists in reality that is prompted by the concept of Maya Veil of Ignorance in Hinduism that God was required to create an ego within every living being. Knowing the absolute truth that nothing is for real... who would have wanted to work? For the very fact that God planted ego in every living being... our Atman soul (a minuscule form of God) exists within the body. In the journey of Life it is this atman soul that prompts from within that every Jiva (living being) is the real truth of life. And as the Jiva works out its Karma... the fruits are enjoyed by atman the soul within. And this philosophy makes every Jiva continue performing karma always and ever.

Without the concept of Maya Veil of Ignorance... the concept of existence of a non-existent cosmos would bitterly fail. Every living being is prompted to work owing to the ego within. No exercising of ego... the Human being is but a living mass of flesh (take the case of a daily laborer who is not willing to use his head and elevate self in life). It is why every true seeker of Spirituality proceeding on the path of realizing God becomes incapable of performing ones worldly duties. As the dross within the body (the dross contained in our atman, the soul within) reduces... the living being becomes more and more unworthy of performing ones karma. Rather... the need to perform karma diminishes day by day.

The more one realizes that everything in the cosmos is Maya (a veil of ignorance) and in truth nothing exists... the desire to burn our Karma forever becomes more and more strengthened by the day. One slowly withdraws self from the household affairs and devotes more and more time in pursuit of darshan of God Almighty (dialogue with God on one-to-one basis). One realizes the absolute truth that it is only God Almighty that exists and everything else is Maya Veil of Ignorance. In such circumstances the concept of duality fades in totality.

When nothing exists in whole cosmos except God Almighty and his thinking... how can there be a duality in the cosmic system? It is only Atmans souls that exist in the cosmos and everything else gets negated by the process of Neti (the sum total of all atmans souls in the cosmos is the only real truth). Only after occurrence of the big bang when a new cosmos starts that all Souls Atmans scatter all over the cosmos. These atmans souls on their cosmic journey gain impurities on the way and only after passing through a phase of 8.4 million manifestations (a total of 96.4 earthly years) that atman the soul within gains its glorious original pristine pure form.

The various manifestations, the form of an amoeba, the first manifestation, subsequently a multi-cell formation, insect life, plant life, animal life and finally the form of a human being... all living beings sustain in the cosmos because of the ego within. And this ego keeps the complete system of cosmos going. It is only to hide the absolute truth that the whole cosmos exists without a boundary... the concept of Maya Veil of Ignorance got created. And this would not have been possible had there not been the concept of any ego within a living being.

Every living being is a passing phase in the life of atman the soul within. The dross within atman the soul within keeps on reducing manifestation after manifestation and it is only in the 8.4 millionth manifestation that this atman the soul within liberates forever from the cycle of manifesting bodies one after another. Having become free forever... the body in its 8.4 millionth manifestation gains salvation (moksha in Hinduism). Having realized God... the purpose of maintaining a body is lost. It is only in the next beginning... the beginning of a new cosmos that every atman soul will start on its cosmic journey again... a new journey in a new cosmos. Vow!

The concept of an atman the soul within every body, the doctrine of Maya Veil of Ignorance as advocated by Adi Shankaracharya and the theory of the cosmos that the whole system of God exists without a boundary are interlinked. One concept cannot survive without the other. God meant it so. Adi Shankaracharya was only an instrument in the hands of God through which the concept of Maya Veil of Ignorance gained foothold in the history of mankind. Everything exists in the cosmos since times immemorial. It is only with passage of time that one concept or the other gets unveiled and the humanity calls it a discovery or an invention.

More Vedanta Philosophy related links...

Advaita Vedanta Maya Veil of Ignorance - Advaita Vedanta Philosophy Maya Veil of Ignorance - Advaita Philosophy Maya Veil of Ignorance

Always there to clarify your queries (send your query),

Essay by: Vijay Kumar "Atma Jnani" ... The Man who Realized God in 1993!

A to Z of Vedanta Philosophy explained in words everyone can easily understand and fathom. More on maya can be found at : Advaita Vedanta ... Vijay Kumar - 13 June 2010.

 Full text of query: I know there have questions about this in your archive to which you have replied that Advaita is the ultimate truth. Vishist Advaita is nothing but special type of Advaita. What are your thoughts about Maya ? Could you take the 100 arguments of SataDushani and refute it in favour of Advaita philosophy ? That would help understand your point of view.

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