Chapter 6

 

Maya – The Vedic Phantasmagoria

 

From time immemorial certain metaphysical and other questions have bothered the human mind about this universe and the Nature. One of the questions is more like a riddle, “Is the world only an appearance or a true reality?" If it is a reality, is it an outcome of collation of gross atoms or both gross and subtle atoms? Many other questions also bother the human beings. Why did I come to this world and did I have a choice to refuse? Has the law of Karma relating to good and bad actions, thoughts and desires of the earlier births in the past made us to come or some cosmic power lured me to come and then left me alone to face the turbulent waves of the vast ocean of materialism? What made Shakespeare through one of his main characters Hamlet to say," To be or not be, that is the question?" Shakespeare again repeated in his "The Tempest" that the world is a dream. Why did Buddha find this world as full of miseries and sufferings? What made guru Nanak- the founder of Sikh religion largely based on Vedic Dharma to say," Nanak dukhiya sab sansar" (In this world every one is suffering owing to wide spread miseries, unhappiness and destitution.) Why did Schopenheaur talk in whispers to plants, flowers and shrubs and then bent his ears to get reply to his metaphysical question from these plants? His questions to plants related to “who he was?” and other similar inquiries. After all why this search to know "thy self", not only by Schopenheaur but also earlier by Socrates and still earlier by the ancient Vedic seers, sages and metaphysicists?

Why there are so many theories about the world ranging from extreme materialism of dreaded Charvakas of the ancient India and idealism of Plato and Immanuel Kant apart from pure idealism and absolute monism of Adi Sankracharya? If for Sankracharya the ineffable and formless God is the only and absolute Reality, to Kapila Rsi of the Sankhya darshna – one of the six Schools of Indian philosophy, both God and Nature are real. In his ethical metaphysics, agnostic Buddha found only Nature is real.. Holy Koran refers to this world as an illusion of comfort with alluring and deceiving appearance. Surah 57 Para 20 says that life of this world is naught but the stuff of illusion. The Presidency of Islamic Researchers, IFTA have translated the same Surah in section 3.para 20 as, “ Know yea all, that life of this world is but play and a pastime." To many saints of ancient India, Prakrti -the divine Nature is the adequate and efficient cause of the creation of this world along with its animate and inanimate life. However, Bhagavad Gita holds a different view that it is only the Supreme Lord who has assigned the task of creation of the Universe to Prakrti (the Nature) and She performs this divine role under His supervision (B.G.9-10).

In the field of physical sciences the matter of Newton, Tyndall and other scientists of classical mechanics was inert and indestructible with atom as the smallest unit. Now the scientists of particle physics have found some unsuspected vitality in the matter and its millions of atoms. Matter is no longer inert and experiences some kind of "fatigue" normally faced by human beings and animals as noticed in it by Sir Jagdish Chander Bose. There is no proof that he was influenced by Vedic metaphysics which says that the spirit of God pervades in all animate and inanimate life/things. The scientist Abdus Salam of Pakistan and Nobel Prize winner in Physics found symmetry between an event and its mirror image and unification of basic two forces of Nature and called these mystical ideas of beauty and harmony based on the laws of nature. (The Times of India dated 24.11-1996 – Current Topics). Newton’s indestructible smallest atom has now been split into more than one hundred sub atomic particles and each such particle is having unsuspected vitality and some of these have been found moving with tremendous speed continuously. Does it mean that the physical sciences particularly particle physics are moving towards the Vedic truth that the phenomenal world is an Illusion -Maya or what later Immanuel Kant of Germany described it as phantasmagoria?

Shuniya Vadins of ancient India found through their metaphysics that the entire universe is built on Shuniya– vacuum or void as the innermost part of a gross atom is Shuniya and only the spirit of God dwells there. Some of the modern scientists tell us that an atom contains sub-atomic particles as well as waves, wavicles, clouds and events reaching a subtle stage in the innermost part. However, a confirmation of the illusory nature of the world is yet to come from the scientists, in spite of the fact that ether the finest gross main element (maha bhuta) still remains a mystical ghost to them. The innermost part of atom is still finer than ether’s invisible particles. Ether is without dimensions and weight, but cause of creation of air as mentioned in Vedas. It also has tremendous energy and serves as a medium for the sound waves to pass and go across the world as well as other near by planets in fraction of a second. How does this energy come in the mystical ghost described in Vedas as Akash? Does it have subtle particles or only gross or both? Which philosophers should be believed who say that matter consists of four main elements air, water, fire and earth i.e. excluding ether or those who have found five main elements (maha bhuta) including ether?

If Einstein found that energy can be converted into mass and vice versa, does it mean that the ancient Shuniya Vadins were right that the entire universe was created out of void or vacuum, where the spirit of God dwells along with its tremendous cosmic energy? Doesn’t the metaphysical part of the particle physics give us a feeling that matter does not exist except as an illusion? Theory of relativity tells us that in a shadow one dimension always disappears, particularly the 4th dimensional space “ Time Continuum”. Since our senses cannot visualise this fourth dimension, we accept the three-dimensional shadow of the universe as real. The thick straight line with two dimensions gives a shadow of only one line without thickness. Similarly, a ball with three dimensions gives a shadow of only two dimensions. In human beings, we see only three dimensions, as his/her eternal and immortal soul “real self”- the fourth dimension of time continuum, is not visible to human eyes. Thus, we see everywhere only shadows and our senses accept them as real. Baruch Spinoza confirmed it much earlier when he found through his philosophical and intuitional research that matter does not exist. It is at best a shadow of some higher reality.

Besides Vedas, many other scriptures of major religions of the world and some metaphysicists as well as philosophers have found the world as phenomenon, Maya, Mithya or illusion. Greek philosopher Heraclitus noticed instability in the world of senses that never is, being in the process of becoming. The world as it is or thing in itself is quite different from the world as it appears. Plato found that the world is blue print of Reality and this appearance always leads us astray (Protagoras-356.D). Omar Khyyam in the 12th century AD found this world as a magic box lit by the Sun- candle of God. Immanuel Kant while agreeing with Plato that the world of senses is a phenomenon but explained it as phantasmagoria. Schopenheaur went to the extent of saying that the world exists as " I feel it ", otherwise it remains a dream. Ancient philosophers Pythagoras and Paraenides also found the illusory nature of the world of senses.

A large number of individuals in the world had been in search of God, His form and attributes and also where does He dwell? Lately this search is getting more intense owing to wide spread miseries, diseases and evil effect of the prevalent extreme materialism, apart from the vulgarization of culture and religion. This search is also due to the fact that what is presented to our senses does not give satisfactory answer to many of our question, activities and phenomenon, besides the other reasons that majority of the people are getting dissatisfied and even disillusioned with the world of diversity, flux, change and are seeking the Grand Designer (Vishwa karma) who created all this. They are finding that social, political and even religious turmoil is spreading in many parts of the world, corruption is parading up and down in the streets, markets and corridors of power, de-facto governments of mafia, under worlds and evil minded vulgar rich are replacing the de-jure elected governments in many countries. Owing to wide spread prevalence of various kinds of negativity, the harassed humanity is now in search of peace and bliss.

Through out the world certain common activities are observed, mostly relating to blind pursuit of money, transitory pleasure, working for and not with the poor and down trodden for social recognition, ignoring the effect of cosmic illusion and veil which in the Vedas is Maya and creates perpetual flux in this phenomenal world. We very often observe that personalities of the individuals change too frequently. After every decade and some times even earlier we are different in our physical bodies, ideas, thoughts, conduct and in many other aspects. We all know that through out the world, people get tricked into marriages for the life to continue and soon many of them start finding incompatibilities between the husbands and wives. Only the wisdom of mutual toleration forces them to live together in a reasonably cooperative and harmonious family atmosphere. Perhaps due to this phenomenon of people getting tricked into marriages, Socrates the wisest man ever born in this world had said, "By all means get married. If you get a good wife, you will become happy and if you get a bad one, you will become a philosopher." One can imagine the married life of this great philosopher and metaphysicists.

Intellectual arguments, empirical knowledge and our sense experience have led to a great confusion in all areas of metaphysics, philosophy, science, economics, politics, religion and even social behaviour and other fields of human activities. In the world there are people believing in One God, multiplicity of Gods/gods and even some of them are convinced that God does not exist. For some soul and spirit is the same and for others these two inner divine instruments of the gross body are different and still for millions of people these two do not exist. Similar confusion exists in the area of political and economic philosophies relating to capitalism, communism, socialism and many other philosophies of the states, governments and societies. On the one extreme we have objective and pure Idealism of Socrates, Plato and Kant in the West and Sankracharya, Badrayana, Ramanajum in India, the other extreme we find materialism of ancient Charvakas and even the modern age, pragmatism of Kautaliya and dialectic and historical materialism of Karl Marx. However, the materialism due to Keynes economics has surpassed all the materialistic philosophies. According to Keynes, “ every thing foul is useful for economics. If every thing is good, it is end of business.”

This phenomenon is observed more in the metaphysics of ancient seers and sages. It may appear rather strange but the fact remains that after studying the same hymns, (mantras and riks) in the Vedas, the ancient metaphysicists propounded six vastly different philosophies (Sad Darshana) but still came to almost similar conclusions in regard to ideal human conduct, social behaviour, one global family and spiritual brotherhood. None of these six major and a few minor Schools of Indian philosophy found any current of materialism isolated from spiritualism flowing in the vast ocean of knowledge contained in the Vedas. Most of these schools found the concept of Vedic phantasmagoria-Maya as extremely useful for the human beings and also for any society.

At present in the world we find many dissimilar views on subjects like social evils, corruption, caste system, combining religion with politics and vice versa and even in regard to ethics, social and private morality. In spite of following one or the other religions the world and their scriptures strongly prohibiting all kinds of social and moral evils, including bribery, various kinds of hydra headed corruption, still a large number their followers freely resort to these evil practices and even justify these activities based on their biases and sense perception, which very often are considered as intellectual reasons bereft of spirituality and the noble philosophy of nothing for self all for society. In fact people have hardly any common views on any subject except perhaps when they find danger to their lives through pollution, environmental hazards, social upheaval, wars etc. Temporarily their views may become partially common owing to vested interests but their practices and conduct continue to remain different. Mass scale looting of shops, houses, banks etc., during social and religious riots is quite common. This looting reached its peak in 1947 at the time of partition of India when even the passenger and goods trains were not spared. Most surprisingly even on such transparent subjects like virtue, good, justice, love, truth, beauty etc. the views of people do not agree owing to the predominance of intellectual knowledge, nescience and lack of understanding of the concept of Maya. All these differences have now become the cause of conflict amongst nations, societies, families and even friends.

Vedic metaphysics tells us that unless the concept of Maya is properly understood and so long as its illusory effect stays, the multiplicities of philosophical ideas, concepts and thoughts as well as gods and goddesses can never disappear. In this confusion caused by Maya, individuals can never agree to any standard guidelines for their behaviour and conduct. After all what is that which makes us look evil as sweet as honey and why do we come to great harm when evil deeds ripen? In spite of the scriptural guide lines that children do not belong to you and that you are only their trustee on behalf of God, still what creates attachment of the parents towards children and even for material things? What makes some of the scientists to develop destructive weapons, armaments and themselves moving in society with amulets, luck stones and with a highly unscientific outlook and finding their own peace of mind in the teachings of fake gurus, god men, religious tricksters and mystical cults? Having made tons of money in the U.S.A. what made the founder of Transcendental Meditation to say that United States of America is a pool of mud? Why was another eminent Indian Guru arrested in U.S.A and asked to leave the country? What made George Bernard Shaw to say " rich men are the poor men with money’? What makes some Hindu saints and sadhus to live in underground cells without food, water and ventilation, just to prove their arcane and occult power?

The Vedas refer to this mystical power (Shakti) of the divine Nature as Maya, which forces us to do all these unusual and divergent activities. It is due to the effect of Maya that many of us when we start seeking God, obstacles come from our senses and also from the material phenomenal world around us. Maya is a supernatural power, mysterious will and wondrous skill. Vedas refer to it as Shakti Energy (extremely powerful cosmic energy of God). Rig Veda 6-47-18 and 6-45-16 refer to it as creative Art of God (Maya- Bhi). While in holy Koran the world is described as real, yet it is not absolutely real as it says in chapter 57-20 that life in this world is but an illusion of comfort. Holy Koran also refers to this empirical world as ocean of matter having alluring and deceiving appearance. Thus the world as mithya (appearance), or Maya (illusion) or relative or absolute reality is the oldest metaphysical riddle whose roots lie in our sense perception.

Swami Shivananda, an eminent Vedic scholar who has also studied many other scriptures of Hindus and other religions, has described Maya as a huge cosmic saw. Multiplicity, lust, greed, pride, hatred, jealousy, egoism and self-interest are its sharp teeth. Below and between its teeth are love, cooperation, humility, purity and truth. Those in pursuit of money, matter in any of its form and other mundane activities are very often caught in the teeth of saw and they first start losing the divine instruments like Buddhi (intellect) of their inner world and finally the instruments of their outer world like sense organs and finally their gross bodies as well. According to Bhagavad Gita, God being merciful and benevolent gives long rope to individuals to develop the divine qualities hidden in them and known to their immortal soul. Otherwise, the individuals being their own greatest enemies grow in wickedness and sink deeper into sin and finally get shameful punishment (Holy Koran 3-176 to 178).

Those individuals who start developing divine qualities known to their immortal extended "self " with selfless service to weaker members of society and resist from aimless pursuit of money and matter, smoothly pass through or below the cosmic saw of Maya. Such persons tend to merge with Brahma -the formless and ineffable God through right knowledge contained in Vedas. Those who acquire this knowledge and put into practice get beyond the effect of the saw of Maya. Since Brahma is beyond this veil of cosmic illusion, the true seekers of Him tear off this veil with para jnan (higher knowledge) and also get beyond the illusory effect of Maya. These individuals come to know that nothing is produced out of nothing. So, God being eternal is Himself the universe and universe is God." A sateh saj jayete kutos" i.e. how can entity be produced out of non-entity? 

There are many things which human senses can not see or see it differently, like ether, water vapours in the air, ships and aero planes from a distance, rope appearing as snake in dim light etc. A large number of physical and mental illusions, mirages are due to time and space. In the desert water and even illusory lake appears during the bright Sun light, in a moving train there is an illusion of trees moving very fast, sea shells appear as silver from a distance during day light. Human senses not only accept these illusions as true and real based on one’s knowledge, but also create illusory ghosts, devils and many mythological figures, gods and goddesses. Thus at the cosmic level all phenomenon in the world are related to Time and Space. Time is not any material entity or empirical concept that could be derived from experience, but it does help in appreciating any phenomenon.

Owing to our illusory senses, experience is highly inadequate to know the true concept of Time. Most of the human beings cannot equate properly any duration of time e.g. past one year and future one year. While the past one-year and even a number of years appear to be of short duration, the future one-year is perceived much longer. When you are happy or enjoying some transitory pleasure in a club or living in the company of your beloved or close friend or even passing through a stage of material prosperity, the time appears to be moving very fast. The time slows down during your grief, sickness, sorrow, pain etc., and we get the feeling the time is being elongated.

This phenomenon of shortening or elongation of similar period of time is perceived by human senses even though all times are part of the same “time”, which is eternal and lives in God. Thus any reason or judgment based on the perception of human senses can never be perfect. From this phenomenon one also observes that Time is a-priori and is beyond any sense experience. It is more of a transcendental reality than an absolute reality. Because of this attribute of time, the world looks both real and unreal at different moments of time. As already brought out, human senses cannot appreciate the various attributes of time and its role as the fourth dimension to space. Our soul being immortal corresponds to Time that is eternal and gross body to three-dimensional space. Thus our “real self”- the observer is four-dimensional. In spite of this our senses perceive only three dimensions of the gross body. Thus shadow looks more real than reality owing to vehement effect of Maya. 

Again the Space is only “one”. However, for human beings its dimensions are limited to consciousness and the degree of knowledge. To a child space is small; to a scientist it is large and expanding. The spiritualists, metaphysicists and Vedic seers find it still wider rather infinite and for them it includes heaven, number of worlds where six other communities of human beings live like pitries, angels, karma devas, gandharvas etc., and also Brahma lok or Vaikuntha -the eternal abode of God (Yajur Veda 26-1, 2). Saint Augustine had also somewhat similar description of Space i.e. the city of Earth and the city of God. One is within the vision of human beings through their senses and can be seen with the help of material scientific instruments. De Civitas Dei- the City of God is beyond the vision and knowledge of human senses and can only be known through inner divine instruments as well as a-priori knowledge.

Einstein could perhaps think of the phenomenon of illusory nature of senses as it is found to a certain extent in his theory of Relativity. The world as reality or a relative reality largely depend on the concept of Space each individual has. The individuals having limited knowledge of space invariably find the world as absolutely real and others with more knowledge of space find it either relatively real or even mithya – not so real or even illusory. Thus Vedic Maya is more like metaphysical concept of Time (kala) and Space (dis), not a substance but relative to each individual based on his/her pure or empirical knowledge, which various metaphysicists refer to, as a-priori and a-posteriori knowledge.

Rig Veda 1-131-1 and 6-47-18 describe the universe as His creative Art and for every form He is the Model. All the riches, matter, clouds, Sun and other objects belong to Him. Svetasvatra Upanishad 4 -9,10 describes Brahma as the Illusion Maker and Prakrti as Maya. Being Shakti energy (cosmic power) of God, Maya hinders the truth to the human senses, which tend to even misrepresent the reality. The Vedic metaphysicists find Maya more like human being, as he looks and what he is- is different. The human senses and etani– outward looking mind hide the true reality of a person. This phenomenon is commonly observe amongst many politicians, god men, fake prophets, industrialists, traders and even those bureaucrats who are very fond of making filthy lucre by resorting to corrupt practices. Such people will be always found smiling hypocritically and their smile can easily be differentiated between the smile of innocent children and also transparent and truthful people like Gandhi ji and mother Teresa. 

Rig Veda 7 -33-3 attributes the cosmic illusion Maya in Prakrti to a formless and subtle “being of light” Indra deva, who represents power and strength of the Nature. Owing to his power of creating this illusion, Indra deva transforms himself into many forms like clouds, ether, thunder etc. " Rupam rupam prati rupobababhuva." Thus this illusion is only in Brahamand that includes subtle Prakrti and its gross manifestation- the ever-expanding universe and cosmos. The same illusion is not in Brahma who is the Only Reality. He is Bhuman as bliss. He is Vishnu as all pervasive in Viswa– the universe. Sankracharya explains Bhuman is no other than the innermost “self” of a person. Those who realise their "Self " after reaching the stage of turiya which is more or less akin to Kaivalya of Patanjali’s Yog shastra, normally cross this cosmic illusion- though the illusion stays but it does not effect them. It is a stage similar to material world when a person comes to know the illusory nature of water, as a mirage in the desert, the mirage still stays but this does not affect the person. turiya and kaivalya are the stages when one can communicate with his/her partly omniscient manifested soul. Only God is omniscient and all knowing.

These metaphysical stages pertain to supreme consciousness and the method prescribed by Sankracharya and Patanjali to reach these stages is quite different. At this stage the external world of senses looks empirically real but not transcendentally. Vedic metaphysicists describe the empirically real world as the world of Forms (nama rupa) limited by time and space and the other world of a-priori principles having no form, is beyond time and space. The absolute truth, perfection and bliss pertain to this other world where all forms (nama rupa) disappear. It is for this reason that many individuals say that some saints, seers and metaphysicists while live in this phenomenal world but actually they are other worldly. As light and darkness, knowledge and nescience cannot remain together, in the same manner both the worlds cannot be known together. Only with perfect knowledge Brahma jnan all other lower degrees of knowledge merge and get harmonised.

Maya being “shakti energy” of God and made effective through Nature has two distinct qualities. (a) It hides the truth. (b). It also misrepresents the truth. In both cases senses are under its influence. Being the Creative Art of Brahma, its main purpose is to discipline the senses and harmonise the inner and outer world and finally take a person to a stage where every thing merges in One- the supreme Reality. During the stages of nescience- material and intellectual knowledge bereft of divine and spiritual knowledge, individuals are normally ignorant of this Shakti energy, which is creative Art of God. When such individual want to know His attributes, Form, His eternal laws and Commandments (Vedic Rta) and become the seeker of God, first of all the cosmic illusion Maya hides Brahma. Then it projects the unreal world of nama rupa which is only in name and form and poses great hindrance in the initial stages. The sole purpose of Maya is to ensure that all impurities in thoughts, actions, ideas and desires are eliminated before a person becomes the real seeker of God and he/she does not seek Him just for ostentation, social recognition or any other material and mundane gain.

Once a person crosses the initial stage through an elementary Vedic knowledge or a-priori knowledge known to the partly omniscient manifested soul (jivatma) that only One God exists, multiplicity of gods/goddesses, yakshas and even fake gurus, god men start disappearing. During this movement towards the knowledge of God, while inward looking mind (manas) is keen to seek God but the outward looking mind (etani) and human senses may still not be under complete control of manas, so the blind pursuit of money, matter, false ego and status along with certain morally and socially corrupt practices continue. Through complete Vedic knowledge one can cross these hurdles and move towards reaching the omniscient God. The effect of Maya then starts diminishing, finally it finishes, and this Vedic phantasmagoria can no longer delude him/her.

This stage in the Vedic metaphysics is described as Moksha (final liberation) when the individual comes under His protection and attains permanent bliss. According to Upanishads the individual becomes Brahma himself as his/ her pure soul merges with God "aham Brahma asi" – I am Brahma," aham atma Brahma" – my soul is Brahma. At this stage all forms, names (nama rupa), muliplicity of gods/ goddesses, mythologies, religious fairy tales, aimless ceremonies and sterile rituals disappear and one finds God and His spirit in all animate and inanimate life/things on this earth. All human beings become spiritual brothers and sisters and love for the entire mankind along with selfless service is the first indication of crossing the huge cosmic Saw of Maya. It is only such persons who can build the global family and universal brother hood, which Vedas describe as Vasudhevan Kutumbkam(global familyand Vishva Bandhutva (universal brotherhood)According to Atma – bodha -3, God is revealed as One and illuminator of all. Obviously in the present conditions in the world – wide economic disparities, social tension, miseries and sufferings and over one billion persons in the world, living below poverty line, the proper understanding of Vedic Maya and getting out of its influence is the philosophy most suited to modern times.

Yajur Veda 40-15 to 17 mentions that the face of truth is covered with a golden disc of matter. Maya creates this golden disc and hides the God who is resplendent Protector and His name is O.M. "OM Khamma Brahma" In Rig-Veda it is described as "OM Tat Sat"- that supreme reality is OM. In the Vedas OM is the cosmic Word and described as Shabad Brahma. This was the First Word spoken by God and It created tremendous cosmic energy, which resulted into the formation of subtle primordial matter of purity, activity and passivity and these combined and thus the subtle Prakrti was formed. The primordial matter in the form of sattavic, rajasic and tamasic gunas when joined in certain proportion, created gross matter and the universe with five mahatbhuta – main elements i.e. air, water, fire, earth and ether was formed. This world with primordial subtle atoms of three gunas of purity, activity and passivity thus originated from the cosmic Word. Shabad Brahma OM. IT not only created enormous cosmic energy but also created veil of Maya during the formation of the gross universe.

Isa Upanishad, which is the last chapter of Yajur Veda, has a number of passages about the absolute reality of God and the relative reality of the world. Sankracharya in his Brahma sutras analyses this contradiction between appearance and reality and concludes it is due to apara jnan (lower knowledge) of senses and matter that the world looks real. It is a stepping-stone to para jnan (higher knowledge) of God, soul, spirit and Prakrti. He explained it in his doctrine of "self evolving Brahma" which many savants relate to Vedic metaphysics of Brahma parinama vada. As in an individual the "self " is real and the reality of the gross body is a lower truth, the same is true at the cosmic level. Brahma is real and Prakrti is lower truth. A number of Vedic hymns contain a philosophy of absolute and pure monism- advaita vedanism. In a few words it means "unity in diversity." According to Sankracharya who is advait vedantist, owing to lack of knowledge of Maya, when this diversity increases in the universe, it merges back in the subtle Prakrti and finally merges with Brahma when Pralaya or final dissolution occurs. The same re-emerges in the next cycle of Creation (Sristi), which symbolises Unity. This cycle of Sristi and Pralaya continues, but it does not affect Brahma who is eternal.

The cosmic Age when effect of Maya is maximum owing to inadequacy of knowledge due to nescience or predominance of intellectual knowledge (apara jnan), that celestial Period is Kali Yuga. On the other extreme when its effect is minimum and the people follow divine laws of social, moral and physical order, pursuit of money and matter is on the path of Dharma (righteousness) and the predominant guna is that of purity, truth and honesty known as Sattavic guna, that celestial Age is Sat or Krita Yuga. The other two celestial Periods of Treta and Dwapar Yuga fall in between. Thus Maya is not only extremely powerful for not only concealing the true character of the Reality but also one of the causes of Creation and Dissolution of the Universe as well as for the four celestial Ages. In view of its vehement effect Sri Rama Krishna calls it Maha Maya- the great Illusion of the divine mother Prakrti. Unless one severs the shackles of Maha Maya, he/she cannot realise his/her real "self " and also the God. The saint of Bhakti cult Kabir says, "Unless you leave not Maya and you continue enjoying the illusion of money, power, false prestige, Maya leaves you not. Only with devotion to God, He alone will loosen us from this yoke." It is Maya that creates infatuation and makes you feel that children belong to you and you give love to children as loan to be returned in your old age. Only when the vehement effect of Maya starts disappearing that you give love to your children as a selfless donation and not a loan. Very often we forget that children do not belong to us, they only come through us. Bhagavad Gita clearly says that during the entire process of procreation God is present. He is thus the procreating Father of all of us.

Again it is Maya, which creates attachment to matter, money, gold etc. Vedic metaphysics clearly mentions that all material things belong to God and these are given to us for minimum use as need based and not greed based. One of the greatest delusion which Maya creates that you start believing due to your egoism that you are the doer, even though all actions are performed due to modes of Prakrti with primordial matter in the form of three gunas (B.G. 3-27). It is Maya that is the cause of insatiable desire and thus deludes the human beings (B.G.3-39, 40). It is through its cosmic illusion we are chained to Destiny. To overcome the vehement effect of Maya the Vedic rsis and munnies had advised that we should obtain the higher knowledge of nirguna Brahma who is ineffable and formless. Also one should seek a preceptor who is an illumined soul capable of removing inner darkness. In Vedas, the term used for preceptor is Guru. This word consists of Gu and Ru. Gu means darkness both inner and outside and Ru is to dispel. Thus Guru is dispeller of all kinds of darkness of his / her students/disciples. The Vedic guru is the one who knows all ten physical sciences, mathematics, social sciences, military science and complete spiritual and divine knowledge. It is for the Hindus now to judge which of the present day guru or swami meets the Vedic qualifications of a preceptor. All others can be considered as spreading false spiritual and divine knowledge, leading to more and more vehement effect of Maya.

Maya is a part of lower (material) nature of God, which includes five main elements, mind, reason and ego (B.G. 7-4, 5). Bhagavad Gita also says that one has to pass through this lower nature of Brahma i.e. subtle Prakrti and gross universe, through discipline, sense control, moderation in thoughts, desires and living to reach God’s higher divine nature. The whole creation is deluded by objects evolved from three modes of Prakrti consisting of three gunas with subtle atoms and under their effect particularly tamasic and rajasic gunas individuals fail to recognise God (B.G. 7-13). Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita uses the words Gun maiyi mmam Maya (wondrous veil of Mine). This Mine (Mmam) word is meant to be God as in the Bhagavad Gita lord Krishna is described as incarnation of God. However, in the Vedas there is no incarnation of God as a human being or any other material form. Thus Bhagavad Gita to this extent deviates from Vedic metaphysic. However, in many other aspects it teaches the Vedic metaphysical knowledge. Lord Himself says in Bhagavad Gita that it is difficult to cross Maya except through divine knowledge (B.G.7-14). Maya is the divine potency of God (Brahma’s Yog Maya) and it gives a delusion of pair of opposites (B.G.7-27).

Svetasvatra Upanishad IV-9, 10 clearly mentions that Prakrti is Maya, mighty Lord is Mayin – the illusion maker and the whole world with beings is part of Him. There is also detailed description of Maya in Yog VashishtaAtma-bodha-3, Karika, Svetasvatra and Mundaka Upanishads. All these scriptures clearly mention that at the intellectual level and also for the ignorant people it remains a riddle and cannot be explained as the concept of inner world is lacking in them. It can be understood by people on the path of intuitive knowledge and those who are in pursuit of finding a-priori principles and laws of God in the form of Vedic Rta. For such persons the vehement effect of Maya starts diminishing and they also find disengagement of spirit from matter. All gods and goddesses, Isvaras(personal God/gods) with attributes and form, start merging in One God. If Vedic metaphysics about Maya is accepted as true then its vehement effect about multiplicity of gods (33 millions) amongst Hindus is the maximum. Owing to this effect all kinds of negativities like blind faith, superstitions, mumbo jumbo of ceremonies, aimless pursuit of money, power and status, naked selfishness, social evils like dowry deaths, girl infanticide, dev dasi pratha, burning of young widow as Sati, bribery, corruption, giving love to children as loan and not donation to be returned in old age and many more are on the increase.

How the Cosmic Illusion Works

Maya being the material cause of the universe, it works through its veiling power, which creates difference between the seer and the seen. It works vehemently in all the subtle three guna but more vehemently in tamasic guna of stupor, inertia, passivity, hypocrisy and deceit and works least vehemently when sattavicguna of truth, purity and transparency is predominant. In the case of predominance of sattavic guna it helps the individuals even to work with the poor and destitute without any self-interest. Working for the poor with self-interest of just keeping yourself occupied or for social recognition and material gain, is due to predominance of tamasic guna. It is due to this effect of Maya with predominance of tamasic and rajasic guna that the number of poor and destitute near and below the poverty line are increasing in India every year and their number has considerably gone up from about 150 millions to over 350 millions since India became independent in 1947. Similar phenomenon can also be observed in many other parts of the world, as the number of these unfortunate persons has crossed one billions. This is in spite of United Nations Organisation, many voluntary organizations and other industrialist, political leaders and social reformers working for their welfare. Thus the Vedic Maya gives a clear message that working for the poor and with the poor makes a perceptible difference.

However, Vedic metaphysics makes it clear that the effect of Maya completely disappears and it stops working in a shuniya sattava stage, when a person goes beyond guna. Those who lead a life of moderation in action, thoughts and desires can only achieve this stage and finally move towards need based living by reducing material needs as much as possible. Gandhi ji had already found out by following need- based living that the mother Earth has plenty for all of us to meet our needs but not enough for our greed. Such individuals soon reach higher state of consciousness and bliss and do not run after transitory material pleasures. When the vehement effect of Maya stops working, one comes to know about the absolute supreme Reality.

Once you know His true nature, one finds Him pervading everywhere in animate and inanimate life/things. These individuals can dare to tear the veil off the face of Nature and have at any risk a glimpse of the beyond (Swami Vivekananda). Nature then no longer appears as real but one finds it a shadow or sport (Lila) of the God and a phenomenon only. Even holy Koran says," life in this world is play and sport of Allah and for those in pursuit of greater riches, more children, life in this world is but a vain provision and illusion of comfort. They do not know that every thing in this world belongs to Him and shall return to Him" (Holy Koran Surah 57-6 to 20). The play or sport of God in holy Koran is almost similar to Vedic phantasmagoria and material things returning to Him akin to Pralya and Sristi. On Creation or Sristi all material things come from Him and on Pralaya or Dissolution return to Him. Both holy Koran and Vedas do emphasise that life of human beings in this world is naught but the stuff of illusion.

For those who are still involved and deeply got entangled in this material world under the influence of Maya with the predominance of rajasic and tamasic guna,Vedic metaphysics help them to get out of its vehement effect in stages. The first step is to know and understand Prakrti and her attributes. It is just as if an infant first knows and understands his/her mother. In the Vedas the supreme Mother is subtle but extremely powerful Prakrti – the divine Nature. The gross earth is only benign Mother, which helps us selflessly in our material need-based requirements and while moving very fast around herself and the unmoved mover of the universe (suriya)- the Sun, on an axle that does not rust Also the mother earth does not kick or give a jerk, while moving so fast.

The supreme Mother Prakrti is subtle and effable. While matter in this world only provides material and intellectual knowledge, Prakrti helps the human beings in acquiring the knowledge of Spirit, cosmic laws of social and moral order, selfless service, spiritual brother hood etc. The knowledge provided by the infinite supreme Mother- also known as MahaMaya, is spiritual knowledge (vijnan) as distinct from divine knowledge (jnan) of God, soul, time and space and the vast inner world of the human beings. In Vedic metaphysics both Time and Space being eternal live in God. Thus Vedas have three kind of knowledge i.e. Jnan, Vijnan and Ajnan and their complete understanding is Brahma jnan. Material or intellectual knowledge in isolation is ignorance or ajnan/avidya. All three kinds of knowledge in isolation can at best lit small candles to remove petty darkness in very small areas but only Brhama jnan- the perfect knowledge of this trinity can remove the total darkness of the entire mankind. This Trinity of knowledge is like the Sun. When it rises the darkness disappears in the entire world. It is for this reason that savitar deva (the Sun) is described in the Vedas as in-charge of perfect knowledge. The mother hymn “Gayatri Mantra” is prayer to savitra deva to provide us knowledge in all our three stages- while being awake, during sleep and in our dreams. 

Only when a person thoroughly understands the attributes and functioning of Prakrti through material and spiritual knowledge, one can move towards para jnanthat is higher knowledge. For those persons who are moving towards higher knowledge after acquiring material and spiritual knowledge, Maya starts disappearing for them and they find 33 beings of light merging with One God. Prakrti her self then merges with God and He is seen everywhere, as the veil of Maya is torn and all visions Beyond get clear. Rig-Veda 3-55-1 describes it as Mahad Aksharam- the Great Eternal in whom every material and subtle things finally merge. Since all 33 devas finally merge in Him, Vedic seers and wise men also named Him “Brahma Deva.”

Even though William Shakespeare is not considered as the scientist of the soul, still he also found this phenomenal world as "dream" and " empty shell.” In the Tempest IV- 1-151, he has written, "our life is rounded with a sleep, is a baseless fabric of the vision and all, which it inherits, shall dissolve." He further writes, " in this stage world looks empty shell with clouds capp’d towers, gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself and will get dissolved.” Thus during Maya’s working stage, truth is found in the garb of untruth and virtue in sin and evil. There is a famous fable depicting effect of Maya. There were two sisters named Truth and Untruth. They went together for a swim. After their bath by mistake the sister Truth put on the clothes of her sister. Untruth not finding her clothes put on the clothes of her sister Truth. Since then Truth is freely moving in the garb of untruth and vice versa. This effect of Maya is also seen when sin is described as virtue.

Bhagavad Gita clearly says that all material excesses are sins. Still many its readers who consider Bhagavad Gita as sacred as Vedas, would describe vulgar consumerism based on hoarding of tons of money with all evil practices as virtue and blessings of God. This vehement effect of Maya is now found in India in all market places, Parliament, judicial courts and many other places including temples, educational institutions etc. Because of its effect some saints describe it as "Is Maya Ke Teen Naam, Parsu, Parsa, Paras Ram." Because of Maya the same individual is known by three different names based on his economic and social status during different stages of his life. He is Parsu -a lowly social individual when faces poverty and destitution. The same individual is Parsa when he crosses poverty line and has some moderate social status and becomes Paras Ram- a respectable name when he acquires high social and economic status.

Advait Vedantists like Sankracharya had found that during its working stage Maya creates Nama Rupa (name and form). We make jugs, plates, statues and many other things out of clay. While clay could be "real" to senses, jugs, plates are only real in appearance i.e., in name and form (nama rupa). Again clay itself is made of other subtle and gross atoms and particles (anu, kanu and tan-matra). Thus clay is also real only in name and form and not absolutely real. The same is applicable to human beings that are real in name and form as billions of living cells atoms of various elements, primordial matter of three Gunas, inner and outer instruments make the human being. Thus absolutely Reality has to be found beyond name and form. If we continue finding the reality, we shall find that ultimately only God is Real. He is with us in the form of His soul and spirit (Atma and Jiva), which provides us a-priori knowledge and energy. Maya is real like clay with lower knowledge of matter (avidya) and with higher knowledge it no longer remains absolutely real and finally disappears when Reality is found. Sankracharya thus concludes that Maya belongs to lower level of Reality and not absolutely Real. According to Vedic metaphysics, the working of Maya stops for any individual when seer and seen are unified. This state of super consciousness by the Vedic metaphysicists is described as Turiya.

How to attain Turiya

Many Vedic metaphysicists have referred to five Koshas (sheaths) or coverings in human body, which have to be crossed before reaching the stage of super consciousness. The first is annomaye kosha or food sheath. You cross this sheath when you eat to live and not live to eat and follow the principle of moderation in your food habits. You neither over eat nor starve yourself. Vedas thus advise simple sattavic food without spices, neither too hot nor too cold. Bhagavad Gita has a number of verses in chapters 16 and 17 about sattvicrajasic and tamasic food and it is advised one should move towards sattavic food and finally to food which is pure, simple, nutritious and provides energy to your inner and outer body. This is a stage when the taste of the food moves to mind from the tongue.

An experiment was conducted with the help a solar cooker. Some vegetables were produced without the use of chemical fertilisers and insecticides on a small area of land measuring about 40 square yards A number of vegetables were also grown in earthen pots and mini fields measuring between 3 to 4 square yards. After two to three years of experiment it was found a good, simple, healthy and nutritious food would cost only about three Rupees (1994-95 prices) per day for three meals in the morning, after noon and night. This food highly satisfies your soul, mind and the gross body. It includes all necessary vitamins from the fresh vegetables particularly their outer skin, green leaves, shells of peas etc. to be used for the preparation about three cups of liquid soup. Since it is cooked and prepared with the help of a solar cooker, its cost was almost negligible. On an average 8 to 10 vegetables produced in the small piece of land along with their leaves were used in the preparation daily quota of three cups of soup with virtual nil cost. However, manual labour for preparing the land, sowing the seeds, removing weeds every week and watering the plants on need based, washing the vegetables, green leaves and cutting them, came out to be about I hour and 30 minutes per day on an average. This also provided my daily quota of physical exercise of sitting, standing, bending, inhaling, exhaling, stretching, etc.

To supplement proteins, carbohydrates, small quantity of fat (butter) etc. use of solar cooker was made to soften cleaned and washed wheat, rice, bajra (millet),makki (maize) on as required basis, black grams, beans, lentils etc.; to meet the daily requirement of intake of balanced food. May be if some one needs more quantity of wheat, rice etc.; the cost may go up slightly. This simple diet along with daily quota of physical exercises mentioned above without any modernyogic exercises (not mentioned in the Vedas) that resulted in a number of benefits. Within a period of one-year, the weight reduction was about 15 pounds; reduction in waistline by about two inches and not going to any physician for a few years and no need for any medicine was felt. However, the greatest advantage was the study of many other scriptures of major religions. Permanent truths are only those, which are common in all scriptures and have passed the test of time of hundreds and thousands of years. Another benefit was observed that the taste of food started shifting from the tongue to mind without any strong and visible reaction from the senses and sense organs.

Reverting back to the subject of Vedic sheaths, only after crossing the first Annomaye Kosha of food, one can move towards crossing the second Pranomaye Kosha relating to vital breath. When the taste of food moves from the tongue to the mind, one should start living in the natural surroundings with trees, plants and plenty of fresh air around. If some breath control exercises are done along with your normal day to day work and also keeping the gross body free from toxic and poisonous gases, this would help in crossing the second obstacle in the form of sheath in the body. Having crossed these two coverings mostly in the gross body and partly in the subtle body (Pranaomaye Kosha), the third sheath to be crossed is Manomaye Kosha pertaining to human mind. Human senses and turbulent etani– outward looking mind would create a lot of hurdles to the person desirous of crossing these Kosha. However, for attaining the stage of Turiya all these sheaths are required to be crossed.

This third sheath covers mostly the subtle body and finer atoms of the gross body. Vedic knowledge along with regular weeding out of evil and negative thoughts can greatly assist in crossing this Kosha. The human senses and outward looking mind tend to take a person towards wild growth of evil, corrupt and unsociable thoughts, practices and behaviour. He/she tends to resort to bribery, blind pursuit of money through lottery, gambling, economic exploitation, profiteering etc., for transitory pleasures and many other selfish activities. These individuals normally forget the world is an illusion of comfort and a turbulent sea of matter. This effect gets even more vehement for those individuals who are not prepared to acquire divine and spiritual knowledge through their immortal extended "selves" as a-priori principles or through the permanent truths contained in Vedas and other major scriptures of the world. They also forget that Maya in this world creates a phantasmagoria which further creates Vritties (modifications).

To achieve their illusory goal, they move from pillar to post and finally end up end up in the strong clutches of fake gurus, charlatans, god men and other similar preceptors. They talk sweet, take full advantage of the ignorance of their followers by distorting spiritual and divine knowledge, while themselves always busy in expanding their empires, influence, immovable property and ever keen to travel abroad and take the benefit of most corrupt and maneuvering politicians and others. Many politicians in India who are now facing the judicial courts owing to mass scale corruption at one or the other times were made to preside god men’s and cults social and spiritual functions. The real peace and bliss is always missing who do not control their senses and outward looking mind. Thus regular weeding of the corrupt thoughts, desires and activities is necessary through Vedic, upanishdic and other scriptural knowledge to get out of the misrule of ten servants provided by Prakrti in the form of five senses and five senses organs. Once controlled these servants of the soul and spirit provide immense energy for positive activities, selfless action on the Vedic philosophy of " Idd Nan Mmam " or enlightened liberalism. On the acquisition of this knowledge and all positive actions one can cross the third Kosha.

The fourth sheath to be crossed is vijnanmaye kosha. In the Vedas nescience, material and intellectual knowledge and fake spiritual knowledge are all part of ignorance or Avidya. This Avidya is cause of multiplicity of gods, idol worship, animism, belief in miracles, superstitions, blind faith, etc. Under the vehement effect of Maya and the veil it spreads, the ignorant persons freely distort Vedic truths and concepts. In the Vedas God is unborn (aja), still a large number of Hindus are convinced that He is born with His divine potency from age to age whenever evil spreads in society. In the Vedas four Varna are based on merit, ability, aptitude and capacity and not on birth. Still many highly learned and other Hindus are convinced that scriptures mention Varna system on birth and it has become cause of rigid anti-social and non-divine Caste system. The philosophy of Idd Nan Mmam or enlightened liberalism has become base and abject selfishness. Only true Vedic knowledge can help in crossing the fourth Kosha relating to intellect and this sheath covers only the spiritual body (suksham sharira).

After crossing this Kosha, only one formless, ineffable God (nirguna Brahma) appears and the true nature of Prakrti, meaning of spiritual brotherhood and one global family are understood. The fifth and last sheath to be crossed is anandmaye kosha, when aim is to seek permanent Bliss. Unfortunately the wall of intellectual reasoning, pragmatism and material knowledge created by Maya along with human senses, senses organs, mind and five Koshas make it difficult for a person to become his/her own self and reach a stage of super consciousness (turiya). When one crosses the last sheath, one finds that his/her real self is always at peace only the senses create disturbances. Thus the controlled senses and the attribute of permanent peace of the real self take an individual to self- realization, bliss and super consciousness.

Vedas mention that such persons who do not make any efforts to cross these five sheaths, get endless rebirths in this material world of pair of opposites i.e., pleasure and pain, happiness and sorrow, love and hatred. By not trying to know one’s self and making no efforts to cross these five coverings in the gross and subtle body, one becomes his/her own greatest enemy. Such persons find the "Self" as only body self and face turbulent waves of this vast ocean of matter. Only with the raft of Vedic knowledge, one can cross the ocean of matter with pair of opposites, misery, suffering and vehement effect of Maya. This knowledge can take a person to a stage when he becomes Brahma himself. According to Mundaka Upanishad III-2-9, after the illusory effect of Maya vanishes, you become Brahma. "so ye ha vaitatparaman Brahma VedaBrahmaiva Bhavati" (when you start knowing Brahma, you become Brahma."

Sankracharya had observed that reason, character, personality of the individual, gunabhuta and maha-bhuta, karma (good and bad deeds), physical sciences all belong to realm of senses or Maya. This is the world of multiplicity owing to effect of guna, so number of personal gods (saguna Brahma) appear as real. He refers to them as Iswaras. These personal gods/Gods can be one or many for different individuals but they all belong to the realm of Maya and are compatible with Supreme Brahma. These Iswaras are the purveyor of rewards, punishment and arbiter of one’s karma. The good and bad actions as karma also form part of Maya and also successive births take place in the realm of Maya. For escape you have to release your self from Iswaras and get absorbed in Brahma.

The Illusory Effects of Maya

Maya is an imaginary reality. The human beings see the same phenomenon; study the same subject and listen to same discourse but tend to interpret differently. Very often, many of them get even dogmatic and some times, they are prepared to quarrel. When the effect of Maya gets vehement, it leads to communal riots, demolition of temples, mosques and churches of the same God. They tend to justify with material and intellectual arguments their evil action. The permanent truths contained in all the scriptures of various religions are ignored and a few non-permanent differences are highlighted for such actions of vandalism. The higher knowledge of Vedas guides the human beings to follow only a-priori principles and avoid contrary truths. In cases like communal riots, quarrel over petty issues etc.; Maya creates a golden disc and hides the inner world of divine instruments, one’s real self and even Brahma and makes you feel that the outer material world is the real and the individuals belonging to other religions and faith are your enemies.

Though Maya affects all the human beings, but its vehemence is the maximum when tamasic guna becomes predominant in an individual. It creates false illusion of optimism or even excessive pessimism resulting in blind faith and unscientific outlook. Owing to impure effect of three gunas in Prakrti, one can see the effect of Maya in the pair of opposites in the divine Nature like day and night, summer and winter, hot and cold etc. In the human beings this effect is found as pleasure and pain, good and bad conduct, evil and virtue etc. These pairs of opposites caused by Maya are one the main reasons of multiplicity of gods, religions, communities, thoughts and ideas. When it acts vehemently on individuals, it makes them outwardly restrain their organs of senses and actions but mentally dwell on objects of senses like, filthy lucre, matter, sex, power, status etc. They become men of deluded intellect and hypocrites (B.G. III-6).

Maya hides from such individuals of deluded intellect, the higher knowledge of a-priori principles known to the manifested soul and transcendental research done by rsis and munnies of yore. Their eleven servants i.e. five senses, five sense organs and outward looking mind become masters and hides the inner world from them and make them feel that the outer world of phenomenon is the only real world. Subjects like laws of God, Vedic Varna ashram institution and metaphysical concepts like soul and spirit, turiya and inner instruments like buddhi (intellect) become a subject of laughing matter with them. They would never believe in life after death, transmigration of soul, effect of karma – good or bad deeds of the human beings as the real cause of rebirth. Like the Charvakas who were the dreaded materialists of the ancient India, these people with predominance of tamasic guna considered Vedic metaphysics as creation of cunning and mischievous Rsis and Munies of yore and have no relevance to any age. This absolute realism of the material world is the cause of quarrel amongst nations, disorder in society, extremely divergent ideas and views on economic, political, social, religious and other matters amongst human beings.

Under the vehement effect of Maya, many individuals cannot make proper distinction between right and wrong, good or bad, virtue and evil, pleasure and bliss. To know the proper distinction of these concepts of pairs of opposites had been the subjects of research by Vedic seers, sages and metaphysicists. Even the medieval and modern philosophers in all parts of the world had been contemplating to find out the true significance of these pairs of opposites. Plato’s concern was about the absolute nature of right and wrong and after metaphysical research gave his findings in his theory of Forms and Ideas and included the same in his three treatises Republic, Phaedo and Gorgias. It is this doctrine of Maya or Plato’s world of phenomenon, which helps to know in this regard and also to attain determinate intellect. Bhagavad Gita clearly says that without this determinate intellect, it is not possible to know right cessation of duties. Thus the knowledge of absolute nature of right and wrong and also knowing right cessation of duties, is a part of higher knowledge.

The holy Koran says, "It is Satan in us who is our eternal enemy in the form of desire, who misleads all of us and make us deface the fair nature created by God" (4-116 to 120). Only with pure mind and higher knowledge you do not move towards false desires, which may appear as sweet as honey but finally bring misery and sufferings. This Satan of holy Koran is more like tamasic guna of Vedas that takes you towards blurring your judgment and thoughts in regard to pair of opposites and the analytical power of the mind.

Human soul with its center in the heart and infinite circumference is the repository of infinite wisdom. Owing to evil deeds of man and also veil of Maya, the man does not know and refuse to recognizes the immortal soul’s immense wisdom and knowledge. It is for this reason that many individuals fail to achieve their goal and continue in a circle of love and hate, pleasure and pain while in pursuit of matter (Sankracharya). This is the cause of coarsening and distortion of what is seemed so right even to an ordinary person.

It is due to Maya there is flux in Prakrti. Lord Buddha independently observed it and his ethical metaphysics is largely based on flux in Nature. He advised detachment to matter and all material things to avoid the effect of Flux. Only those who consider the passing state as permanent, they invariably cling to it desperately and blindly run after all material things. Even they tend to resist the laws of change and flux, which are beyond resistance. It is these laws of change and flux, which provide permanence to non-permanent things and characters. Being agnostic Buddha did not feel necessary to bring God in his ethical philosophy. He linked illusion in Nature and universe to flux. With right knowledge of ashata marga (eight- fold path), Panch sheel and Dhamma this effect can be considerably reduced and when you reach the stage of Nirvana, the effect of Flux disappears.

The permanency of various mythological stories, fables and characters is well known in many religions. Many mythological characters are now more real than many other real characters. The survival of mythological heroes of Hindus like five Pandavas, Sharvan Kumar, Eklavya and many others along with gods and goddesses, for the last a few thousands years is nothing but providing permanency to imaginary and non permanent characters. It is that what Sankracharya calls it lower knowledge or apar jnan. RamayanaMahabhartaPanch tantras and Puranas along with some other major and minor Hindu scriptures contain details of the cosmic sport (Lila). Vedic Maya is a highly metaphysical concept and the cosmic sport is a part of it.

It is not only in Hindu religion that mythological gods and other heroes have become more real than reality and their idols, statues of stone, marble, and bronze are worshipped, this phenomenon is also noticed in other religions in the world. The eminent English philosopher and a Nobel Prize winner Bertrand Russell, in his book “Why I am not a Christian?’ had even doubted whether Christ was ever born. However, he did not get into any controversy over this aspect. Obviously he was not a fanatic or fundamentalist and at best was an agnostic. His findings were more metaphysical than historical or religious. It is all the effect of phantasmagoria in the Nature. So long as the person is under the influence of this illusion, multiplicity of mythological gods and goddesses cannot be avoided. This effect is multiplied many fold with the predominance of tamasic guna and many Hindus now believe that there are 330 millions gods and goddesses who should be worshipped. 

To get out of its vehement effect, one has to first get out of the effect of subtle gunas of purity, activity and passivity. This is normally achieved by detachment to matter, money, children and ego in any form. It is the stage when you aim at creating world order without any personal gain and by performing duties on the principle of Idd Nan Mmam- nothing for self all for society and mankind. This detachment certainly does not mean leaving the material world and going in isolation or in forests or renouncing the mundane and worldly activities. Bhagavad Gita makes it clear that Sanyasi is one who does not renounce the world but he/she renounces material desires, lives on the path of moderation and performs all activities selflessly without attachment on the path of Karma Yoga. In this noble path of karma yoga a person performs duties on behalf of God and does not consider him/her self as the doer. Thus Sanyasi is one who performs intense selfless activities for the welfare of mankind and not the one who renounces all activities and goes to forests or isolated places. 

Unlike materialistic detachment, metaphysical detachment is not a life negation but a positive life affirmation on the path of Vedic Rta, Dharma and Artha. It is renouncing all kinds of evils, hydra headed corruption with 9 heads and ninety nine sources of its entry in the body, various types of ego like vulgar consumerism, ostentatious ness, ill deserved social recognition, false prestige, status, pride, hatred and all other non virtuous qualities. In the metaphysical detachment, material world is not renounced but wholehearted effort is made to bring material prosperity for the mankind. This detachment is the stage when you find that children do not belong to you. They are the children of God under your trust on His behalf and you only impart them right education (Vidya), look after their physical needs and other creature comforts necessary for their development, guide them towards good conduct and Vedic thoughts and ideas. Khalil Gibran an eminent sufi philosopher of modern age, without specifically referring to any kind of phantasmagoria or Maya has mentioned that children do not belong to you, they only come through you. They have their own ideas and thoughts.

Thus when you start getting out of the vehement effect of Maya by constantly reducing your tamasic guna and acquiring more of subtle particles of sattavic gunayou tend to become extremely useful for the mankind. All your thoughts, ideas and actions move in the direction of enlightened liberalism and you find living God everywhere. The inanimate objects, things like ocean, sea, earth, mountains etc., appear as having life in them, where jelly fish to powerful whales, lowest and humblest creatures to the strongest animals and powerful human beings can live in harmony. Living sea and the earth appear more as manifestation of God ever keen to help the animate life to live there full life by providing all varieties of food and conditions for their development and for mankind even to reach their perfection in all areas of their interest. Only One nameless God appears.

Vedas thus recognise two extreme types of persons who are good, virtuous, selfless in their actions and social service and those who are fickle, deceitful, avaricious, hypocrites, bribe takers, covetous and with many other negative qualities. A large number of people could be between these two extremes depending on the proportion of three gunas in them at a particular time. Thus it would be seen that the maximum vehement effect of Maya is on those individuals who have acquired extreme negative qualities and minimum on others with positive qualities. As regard birds and animals, this illusory effect remains by and large the same but it is almost negligible as they follow the laws of God, lead a need-based life and help mankind in the production of food and many other ways. Without their help food production falls down, forests suffer and insects multiply. The Chinese experiment of late 80’s is an eye opener. To increase food production and reduce the number of birds near the airports to avoid birds hit to the flying machines, a large number of birds were killed but food production also fell. This conforms to Vedic Rta that one seed gives us a very large number of seeds. More seeds can give us enough food for human beings and other animate life and still enough for further production of food. For their direct and indirect help, some part of food production is meant for animals and birds.

Owing to ignorance and not knowing this concept of Maya or remaining under its influence due to predominance of tamasic and rajasic gunas is misery, getting out of it is enlightenment, peace and contentment. Those who get out of it never perish even though their gross bodies may only die. Their thoughts, ideas and philosophy guide the mankind in all ages. It is the effect of Maya that all events in your life become passing appearance due to Flux in Prakrti caused by this cosmic illusion. Our gross body’s structure, mind, thoughts remain always in flux. Due to effect of Maya, the human bodies as well as thoughts vary considerably during child hood, youth, middle an old age. For some persons changes are faster and are perceptible owing to its more vehement effect. But the soul which is one’s real self, continues with the individual to guide him/her right path, action and thoughts from the birth to death and even in the next birth. Its power of guidance and inner light go on decreasing when the subtle particles of bad and evil actions, thoughts and desires of the human beings accumulate over it and reduce its illumination. Such persons get into utter inner darkness and feel highly insecure. Those persons who are transparent, truthful, enlightened by their soul lead a life of complete freedom without much fears of losing the gross body. They are always convinced that their real “self” never dies and is immortal. As Bhagavad Gita says, for such individuals losing gross body is more like change of clothes. Thus Maya along with the predominance of kind of primordialmatter bring complete change in human personality.

It is because of this phenomenon of flux and Maya along with their perceptible effects that one finds this world both real and unreal based on the stage of one’s knowledge of supreme Reality, Prakrti and matter. Since the ancient seers and metaphysicists of the post Vedic period also had higher knowledge of varying degree, so from the study of same Vedas different metaphysical philosophies emerged. There were six major and a few minor philosophies. These are popularly known as sad darshanaSad is six and Darshan is a “world view." All these philosophies describe the worldview somewhat differently while agreeing on certain common Vedic truths. Nyaya Darshan and Mimanska School found philosophy of realism in the Vedas and other schools found in these Shruti absolute monism, pure idealism or dualism and even qualified monism and subjective idealism. One minor school of Shuniya Vadins found the spirit of God all pervasive along with life and vitality in all inanimate things. In other parts of the world based on degree of knowledge, experience, observations etc. and the effect of Maya and flux, hundreds of different philosophies have been propounded, from extreme capitalism to communism, idealism to pragmatism and scientific rationalism, materialism to mysticism and many other extremes. It is for this reason that Vedas advise human beings to tear the veil of Maya and Flux in Prakrti. Otherwise,tamasic gunas will overtake other two gunas and will spread in the society and the state leading to social disorder and anarchy in the state

It is a stage of utter confusion when the human beings start accepting all contradictory views and thoughts as correct during certain periods of time and incorrect at other times. Because of this effect of Maya in the political and economic philosophies in the world communism, capitalism, socialism of all kinds, guild socialism, along with dictatorships, democracies, monarchy, aristocracy and other forms of governments flourished in various parts of he world at different times and periods in the world history. Similar phenomenon can be observed in regard to social and religious philosophies like idealism with its three variants of pure, objective and subjective idealism, dualism, pluralism, theism and atheism etc. Similar differences can be found out in the social science of axiology relating to value system. At any given time people have different ideas about social values varying between idealistic to sensate values. These differences and contradictions in various philosophies, values and thoughts become the cause of dissipation of vast human energy and absolute confusion in society, state and religion. Distinction between right and wrong, moral and immoral, virtue and evil, justice and injustice almost disappear. It is due to vested interest and this confusion that negative activities like blind pursuit of money, matter, muscle power, which in the Vedas are the characteristics of avarna, vritra, marplots, exploiters and all those following non divine professions, are justified.

It is mentioned in the holy Bible that a camel can pass through the eye of the needle but a rich man cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. It is a well known fact that the cause of social disorder, pollution, vulgar consumerism and other evils are mainly due to the fabulously rich persons throughout the world, who are blindly in pursuit of money for them selves and not for society, ignoring the Vedic injunctions about Dharma, Rta, Idd Nan Mmam, nishkam karma etc. In holyGrantha Sahib it is mentioned that one Khalsa (a noble human being with pure soul) is equal to 125,ooo common and ordinary individuals. This truth is amply seen in society. Noble individuals with pure souls like Sikh gurus, Gandhi ji, mother Teresa and others create positive energy in society and their positive energy nullifies the evil effect of negative energy created by thousands of people following non-divine and prohibited activities described in Vedas. If the number of such noble souls start dwindling in any society and the negative energy generated by the ignoble activities of non divine persons, vritras and exploiters over take the positive energy created by a few noble persons only, the result is social disorder, stress and strain in the human beings. Hydra headed corruption and all other kind of evils start appearing as sweet as honey and these spread like wild fire both in the society and state. Owing to dimming of the light of the soul, both corruption and the social criminals’ parade up and down in the streets, markets corridors of power and all other places. Upanishads refer to this stage as "Tamo pradhan" society and state.

In a Tamo pradhan society there is degeneration of moral and social values, Vedic Rta are not followed and the Dark Age (Kali Yuga) reaches its peak. Divine guidance, which is available through the Vedic metaphysics and other scriptures, is largely witdrawm. The pursuit of money, matter and ego living do not permit them to lead a life of moderation both in thought and action. Certainly the life of forced moderation owing to economic or other reasons is not Vedic moderation or the golden mean of Greek philosophers. The Vedic moderation is a faith based on scientific temper and it first comes in thought and then in action. Many poor people may be forced to have need-based living but they may still desire to become rich by resorting to lottery, gambling and other evil actions. God only exists for them if HE provides all material and mundane benefits to them. In exchange of filthy lucre, ill-gotten black money is offered to the idols of God/gods liberally in temples, ashrams of gurus and swamis and other places. Very often these idols are installed and some times these idols emerge from the ground through clever tricks of some individuals. Mostly the money earned through exploitative profits, evading state taxes etc., is utilised for the idol and proxy worship, which gives social recognition to the seekers. The white money earned with hard labour and honest means is very rarely utilised for this purpose.

The concept of Yugas or four Celestial periods is not only in the Vedas but also found in other scriptures and philosophy of certain lovers of wisdom in all parts of the world. The scriptures of Sikh religion refer to these four celestial periods, Buddhist and Jain’s metaphysics also confirm about this concept. Greek philosophers and some historians refer to four such periods, though Hasoid- an eminent Greek philosopher refers to five such periods’ i.e. golden, silver, brass, heroic and iron Ages. Plato found only four such cosmic Ages i.e. without the heroic Age of Hasoid. Vedas, Upanishads, Purans and other Hindu scriptures only refer to four Ages- Krita or Sat Yuga, Treta, Dwapar and Kali Yuga. However, one cult, which migrated to India from the areas now form part of Pakistan and having mostly Hindu followers, refers to five Yugas by adding Sangam Yuga, which is the transition between Kali and Krita Yugas. While Vedas refer to the present Age as Kali Yuga akin to Iron Age of Greeks, this cult describes the present celestial period as Sangam Yuga that is shortly to merge with Sat Yuga or Golden Age after the cosmic dissolution (Pralaya). This word “shortly” is being shifted from decade to decade to rope in more followers and keep them united and integrated to the cult by creating fear complex. Only the true and faithful followers and devotees of that cult will survive and enter that Golden Age. While in the Vedas and Bhagavad Gita the total duration of these four celestial periods is over 4 million years, for this cult it is only 5000 years for one celestial cycle of five Yugas. Thus Maya creates such a great cosmic illusion that untruth is made to appear as truth and vice versa.

The effect of Maya varies considerably in each celestial period, owing to different proportion of gunas. Each of the successive periods commencing from Krita, the positive energy generated goes on becoming less and negative energy in the society increases till in the iron or dark age (Kali yuga), negative energy reaches its peak. Since successively evil and corrupt activities go on increasing, it leads to progressive decline in the divine guidance and people start giving more importance to nescience and material and intellectual knowledge which steadily gets isolated from divine and spiritual knowledge. Vedas refer to this asAvidya or ignorance. Thus, Avidya replaces Vedic Vidya and this material education produces intellectual, industrial and other social, economic and political giants but moral infants. There is continuous degradation in each successive celestial period. Vedic Kali Yuga or Plato’s Iron Age is the period when both state and society become tamo pradhan and Maya spreads its vast net, making you feel that all matter, world, Nature are all real and soul, spirit, God, buddhi(intellect) appear as unreal. Like the ancient Charvakas, people start thinking that it is all the imagination and hallucination of Vedic rsis, munnies and other metaphysicists that God is the only Reality and all others Prakrti, Universe, matter, money are lower realities or even unreal.

It is due to vehement effect of Maya in Kali Yuga– the present cosmic Age, which is continuing even before the Vedic period that many states and societies in the world have now become Tamo Pradhan. It is for this reason that proxy worship is considered as virtue, the ancient idols of gods and goddesses are not only worshipped, but also even smuggled abroad to make tons of filthy lucre. With a view to make quick money, ignorance is spread further through various kinds of tricks. In the name of divine miracles idols, stone and metallic statues of gods/goddesses accept milk if offered by faithful followers and devotees and refuse from others. Some times idols of major and minor deities suddenly emerge from the earth that help the tricksters to claim precious piece of land on the plea of divine zone, for building temples at such sites. To impress on followers about divine miracle, some babas/sadhus claim to live without water, air and food for more than a month in a closed dark and dingy place, some others claiming to walk on water etc. Thus, the effect of Maya in many sub religions and sects forming Hindu Dharma is now quite perceptible.

Some of the Hindu scriptures give detailed description of Kali Yuga. Manu Smriti tells us that in Kali yuga, mother hood will be attained at the age of 6 to 7 years and father hood about 8 to 9 years. Child hood will be over at the age of 5 to 6 years. In this celestial Age father and the children will not be of one mind and friendship will be based entirely on self-interest, otherwise, the friends will also be not of the same mind. By the age of 20 to 25 years, people will be aged and will be dishonored by their own children. People will honour proud, insolent, corrupt individuals and might will be right. Truth will disappear and righteousness will be dishonoured. Thus according to Manu Smriti the effect of Maya will be very vehement in Kali Yuga. The negative energy created by majority of people cannot be easily nullified by the positive energy created a few noble souls. The description of Dark Age is also given in 2 Timothy 3.1 to 5 (New Testament). It says," men will be lovers of body self, money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligate, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasures rather than God, holding power of religion but denying the power of it." Lotus Sutra 13 also mentions that there will be increase in utter ignorance, coveting gain and honours and developing their evil qualities.

It is through the knowledge and complete understanding of Maya and by increasing subtle sattavic guna, you can cross the rabbles of senses. The science of Axiology is highly linked with Maya and it tends to synthesise sensory and super sensory aspects of values by creating Trivarga (trinity of values)- sensate, ideational and idealistic. Without proper understanding of the doctrine of Maya, sensate values spread in society, particularly when tamasic gunas predominate along with material and intellectual knowledge bereft of divine and spiritual knowledge. The other two values start spreading when most of the persons in any society understand the Vedic concept of Maya and move from avidya towards vidya. The predominance of idealistic and ideational values finally leads to the creation of a perfect society. In such a society, people get an absolute value system, what Vedic metaphysics describes, Satyam, Shivam, Sundram. It simply means value system based on truth (satyam), goodness (shivam) and divine beauty (sundram). Many dualists even describe Brahma -the Vedic formless and ineffable God as Satyam, Shivam, Sundram. It would thus be seen that understanding of the concept of Maya helps in acquiring trinity of values and also to achieve an ideal state and society.

Absence of the Knowledge of Maya

The great cosmic Saw Maya when creates its most vehement effect on human senses, mind and gunas, it is not possible to know completely about God, soul, spirit and all other divine and spiritual truths and concepts like Vedic moksha. Without its knowledge no one can understand that we are all spiritual brothers and sisters. This noble concept in Vedas is described as viswa bandhutva (universal brother hood) and viswa kutumbkam (global family) and the presence of His spirit in all animate and inanimate life/things. Without the proper knowledge and understanding of Maya, people grieve that others do not recognise their merits and when you understand this phantasmagoria of cosmic illusion, you grieve at your own incapacity (Analects 14-32). Also as Psalm 144- 3,4 describes that one should know that man is like a breath and his days are like passing shadow. Even if a person does not know this Vedic doctrine of cosmic Saw with its sharp teeth, with sattavic gunas predominance of transparency, purity and truthfulness, its effect starts becoming less and less.

These persons with predominance of Sattavic gunas know that human body is impure, bad smelling and replete with various types of stench which trickle here and there. The same feeling is not there with persons having predominance of tamasic gunas. One possessed of such a gross body thinks highly of him and even despises others. It is all due to lack of one’s lack of knowledge of insight and divinity of the inner world (Sutta Nipata 205-6). It is the absence of knowledge of Maya and with tamasic gunas, the danger of phantasmagoria is the maximum and fallacies like myths start emerging and even become more real than the reality itself. The deep rooted human needs of many people are satisfied through these myths, just like small children who feel more satisfied with fairy tales than the stories based on hard facts of life including factual historical events explained through small stories. People even worship these mythological gods and goddesses as major or minor deities and perform Pooja – auspicious prayer with rituals, before their idols, statues, icons and sometimes just ordinary stones, pebbles and even trees, animals’ etc.

For individuals with predominance of tamasic and rajasic gunas, these myths, rituals, ceremonies are beyond practical and scientific reasoning. For others withsattavic gunas and firm belief in immanent and inherent principles or what Immanuel Kant describes as a-priori principles, they avoid material and intellectual arguments and reasoning about myths and they normally have complete faith and love for One God. Because of wide spread material and intellectual knowledge amongst Hindus, the majority of them have virtually no idea of Vedic Maya and some of them who have heard this word Maya distorted it as "Chhal, Kapat" (deception, cheating) and many others describe it as money, wealth, magic, trick etc. Tricksters and magicians are some time referred as Mayavi persons, wealthy lady is Maya Devi and wealthy person who worship all deities as Mammon or Kuber is Maya Das (servant of Maya i.e. money). Those who understand this concept of Maya in all its divine and spiritual aspects describe Maya Das as the servant of Mayin – the great illusion maker who is formless and ineffable One God. Thus the description and understanding change with and without the knowledge of Vedic phantasmagoria. Lack of its knowledge has now become a subject of great distortion amongst many Hindus and is highly misused by fake sadhus, sanyasis, saints and gurus.

MAYIN and MAYA (The Illusion Maker and the Cosmic Illusion)

According to Sankracharya if you are a theist and look at the world as real, then you very often come to the conclusion that God is the Creator and He is SagunaBrahma with form and attributes assigned by human beings. In the Vedas Sagun Brahma is personal God also described as sagun Iswara. Nirguna Brhama is formless and ineffable impersonal Universal God. Thus for the individuals who consider this world as real, normally have blind faith in personal God, gods and goddesses and they do not consider Him as Mayin or Illusion Maker. It is for this reason that the devotees of major and minor deities normally do not know much about Maya except vaguely and they find both subtle Nature and its gross manifestation as Universe and personal God/gods as real. On the contrary those who know and understand the Vedic cosmic illusion Maya, do not consider Nirguna Brahma as the Creator. Their belief in lower and higher deities is normally not there but have firm scientific faith in the One Impersonal God. The metaphysics contained in the upanishdic part of Vedas, relate mostly to impersonal God and His knowledge is Brahma Jnan. Knowing Him one knows the entire knowledge of spirit and matter. Thus the Reality of the Universe is relative from absolutely real to illusory depending to what kind and degree of knowledge one possesses.

The metaphysicists of Isa Upanishad clearly tell us “That Reality” is only Brahma and He is beyond attributes, categories, modes and characteristics beingnirguna Brahma. To describe Him even the words recoil. However, Prakrti – the divine Nature, consists of three subtle gunas in certain proportion to maintain its equilibrium and has limited attributes of selfless service, energy, power, harmony, heat, electricity, etc., but excluding Time and Space and the divine attributes of soul. Time and Space are eternal and do not face Sristi and Parlaya and remain uniform in all the four celestial periods of Krita, Treta, Dwapar and Kali Yugas.Prakrti has three gunas which provide all characteristics to Her including formation of subtle and gross atoms, particles (anu, kanu , tanmatras etc.), whilenirguna Brahma is beyond attributes as gunas do not effect Him. The cosmic illusion as Maya is also due to gunas and has limited attributes that can be known through Vedic knowledge and by going beyond gunas, one crosses Maya and reaches nirguna Brahma. Isa Upanishad further says, " Renounce all vain appearance, become transparent and truthful and covet not other man’s wealth."

Aristotle held a metaphysical view that God is not a Creator but an Unmoved Mover. This metaphysical finding of Aristotle was without linking the world as phantasmagoria or phenomenal world as his renowned teacher Plato held. Thus, the influence of Plato particularly his Forms and Ideas went deep in Aristotle that helped him in arriving at metaphysical discovery almost similar to Vedic metaphysics of the Advaita Vedantists. It would thus appear that permanent truths are the same whether one arrives at based on the Vedic doctrine of Maya, gunas or Forms and Ideas of Plato along with the deductive approach to philosophy or just Aristotelian inductive methods of philosophy. Only those means, concepts and doctrines are good which lead to discovery of permanent truths.

The ancient seers and compilers of Upanishads have found God as Mayin – the great Illusion Maker who Himself is not affected and remains Whole. " Whole is that, whole too is this, from the whole, whole cometh, take whole from the whole, whole remains." Thus Maya, Time, Space, Prakrti and Universe’s creation and dissolution and re-creation after each cycle of four celestial periods (One Kalpa) do not affect Him. This Advaita Vedantist philosophy of the Upanishads leaves no scope for the divine Nature and Universe to be real. Universe is at best a shadow of God that appears as gross to us, though in reality it is subtlest of the subtle, being the manifestation of God and human senses invariably find it real. By casting this cosmic shadow HE remains the same. To the absolute monists like Sankracharya, Prakrti and gross universe are mere reflection of the Supreme Reality, a shadow cast by it on the empirical plane in the Space. This shadow or reflection or His illusion is Vedic phantasmagoria and Plato’s world of phenomenon and creator of this Illusory Maya is Mayin. This two tier Reality that is different to the human manifested soul (jivatma) and senses (indriya) is found in many Hindu scriptures. When absolute Reality is understood all gods, goddesses, personal God a Saguna Brahma or Saguna Iswara merge with One God. All kinds of mythologies and fairy tales of the organised religions in the world look as unreal.

Holy Koran maintains through out only One Reality, which is all merciful, compassionate and benevolent. The vast sea of matter with its turbulent waves is an illusion of comfort. It is for this reason that the then Vice President of India, R.K. Naryanan at a function in Kerala on 6th Ocober, 1995 said that the teachings of Islam (contained in holy Koran) influenced the Indian greatest philosopher Sankracharya. Many orthodox Hindus did not appreciate linking Sankracharya with Islam, though it really means that holy Koran has an ethical metaphysics of pure idealism largely akin to upanishdic part of Vedas and has no resemblance with Vedic Brahamanas and mantras. . Like Vedic Brahma who is formless, ineffable, merciful, all pervading, omniscient, immanent and the only Supreme Reality, Allah of holy Koran and Ek Om Kar of Grantha Sahib are the same. Both Koran and Vedas do not contain any mythology and both refer to God as unborn and there is no incarnation of God as a human being.

Later scriptures relegated metaphysical concepts, doctrines and subjects like Prakrti, Maya, distinction between soul and spirit, Braham Jnan, Vidya, material knowledge as ignorance or nescience and many others. Those scriptures tried to bring down the great importance of Vedic metaphysics through mythology, proxy worship, giving more importance to intellectual and material knowledge in the form of certain fairy tales and even combining soul and spirit into one. Thus for most of the Hindus atmajivatma and jiva are the same and these three terms are inter changeable. This led to many gurus, tantriks, god men andswamis confirming that soul dwells not only in the human beings but also in the animals, birds, fishes, ants, germs etc. This concept provided germs, insects and bacteria as well and there after even to kill the germs, torture animals and other birds created spiritual contradictions.

The distortion and laxity in the interpretation of various Vedic metaphysical concepts made the effect of Maya more vehement. This created thousands of metaphysical views and led to mushroom growth of fake god men, false gurus and tricksters who ignored altogether Vedic knowledge and spread their ignorance as spiritual and divine knowledge. Thousands of Hindu gurus, cults and swamis are spreading their own limited knowledge by stressing vague concept of love, harmony, tolerance, devotion to God and gurus, etc., and creating their own techniques of worship, meditation, raj yoga, saral yoga, sahaj yoga, prem yoga and even yogas of physical exercises. Magic, mythology, blind faith, unscientific outlook, superstitions, hallucination and spreading material knowledge that their followers are the children of the gurus, founders of the cults etc., are being brought back with vengeance without curbing corruption, bribery, exploitative profits, social evils etc. Many of them openly declare that they are the incarnation of God/god /goddess in this world and have been sent to spread their knowledge, (which is worse than ignorance) to the entire mankind. Thus, they resort to all kinds of tricks, methods and techniques to spread themselves in all parts of the world and then proudly advertise that they have thousands of branches in India and abroad.

The philosophy contained in Upanishads describes the material world as maya matram – a mere false show, like what a magician creates things and they again disappear but both their appearance and disappearance does not affect the magician. Thus Sristi and Parlaya -creation and dissolution of the universe do not affect the pure state of Brahma. On attaining Vidya or Brahama Jnan, Atma (soul) and Parmatma (supreme soul) become One. Human soul merges with impersonal God. Advait Vedantists like Sankracharya find Unity in the Vedic Atma, Parmatma and Brahma. Those individuals who have not attained Brahma Jnan, they find diversity in these divine concepts and find soul, spirit, God as nirguna Brahma and saguna Brahma not a unity but different and dissimilar and it leads to worship of many deities and seek blessings from each of them. 

Thus based on degree of Vidya or Avidya individuals find unity in diversity and also diversity in unity. Material knowledge and intellectual arguments will justify both. It is for this reason that Vedic metaphysics advises the need for knowledge based on immanent and a-priori principles. The Indian Machiavellian philosopher of 3rd century BC Kautaliya also known as Chanakya, took advantage of different schools of Indian philosophy and also found wide spread ignorance along with corruption parading up and down in the royal corridors of the then Nanda rulers and their minions. He became uni-directional and fixed his ideas and thoughts to dethrone the powerful but corrupt Nanda dynasty. He created a "Prince" out of a rustic strong willed village boy of a poor family and succeeded in dethroning the last Nanda ruler and.made him the strongest and first great emperor of the then India. This boy was Chandra Gupta Maurya.

To save the Emperor from any major revolution for getting him dethroned, Chanakya also distorted Vedic metaphysics by creating a number of superstitions to keep the people occupied. In his treatise Artha Shastra– a book on politics, economics, international relations, religion and society many more deviations can be found. He has mentioned four Varna with superiority of Brahmins and lowest social status for Shudras based on birth. In the Vedas all four Varna, relate to divine professions based on merit, capacity and aptitude and not by birth and no mention of which is superior or inferior VarnaIn this book he advises the ruler that he should ensure that people belonging to different Varna (classes) should live in different parts of the capital city to avoid risk of revolution on the principle of divide and rule. He encouraged even idol worship and animism so that in their spare time they concentrate on worship of deities in any form and regard their king as representative of God on earth.

Thus, Chanakya was one of the fore runners of advocating divine right of kingship, even though he snatched this right from the corrupt Nandas who had got murdered his father who was the Prime Minister of Nanda Empire and was not prepared to tow their corrupt policies and practices. His Artha Shastra does not indicate anywhere that he believed in the Vedic unity in diversity. He rather encouraged rituals, ceremonies, blind faith, mythology and certainly not Vedic spiritual brother hood. However, with these and many other deviations he did succeed in saving the life of his "prince" who was the founder of Maurya dynasty, but in this process he virtually created further degeneration in the Vedic Dharma on which the present Sanatan Dharma/Hinduism is based. Historians tell us that Chandra Gupta Maurya became so powerful that he started declining Machiavellian political philosophy of his preceptor and Prime Minister Chanakya who was later divested of all his powers, prestige and his book Artha Shastra was banned. After remaining out of circulation for over two thousands years, this precious treatise has been revived in the early 20th century.

The degeneration of Vedic metaphysics was one of the major factors that the grand son (Ashoka the Great) of Chandra Gupta Maurya who created the largest empire in India, became Buddhist and spread Buddhism in India and also abroad. Ashoka’s renouncing Sanatan Dharma created further set back to Vedic metaphysics. After him and other Mauryian kings, materialists Charvakas not only critcised Vedas and their philosophy but also virtually abused the Vedic metaphysicists, rsis and munnies and thus Sanatan dharma further deviated from its roots in Vedic metaphysics. It was a few centuries later that most of the Vedantists particularly Sankracharya could arrest this degeneration through his philosophy of Advaita Vedantism of Absolute Unity in diversity and pure idealism of the greatest order.

The Vedas mention the doctrine of Maya, its effect and philosophy behind it in a large number of hymns. A few such hymns can be mentioned. According to Rig -Veda 6-4-2, 3. God is real, eternal and free from death and decay, pervades the entire universe and dissolves as a part of Maya all things made by Him, at the end. This dissolution is more like the Divine shadow merging in God. Thus the subtle Nature and gross universe are only His cosmic illusion. Rig Veda 6-47-18 and other hymns describe Maya as creative Art of God. Prakrti devas (formless gods as beings of light) as Griffith and Wilson also find are only illusion of Maya. These formless 33 devas acquire human form under the effect of Maya, like Indra, Agni, Mitra, Varun and others whose human form can be seen through idols, statues of stone, marble and bronze in many Hindu temples. The human form of Indra is an illusion as the above hymn 6-47-18 says, "Indra Mayabhi"- the illusory Indra. According to Sama Veda 1710, HE shines as supreme Lord in all the worlds as part of his cosmic Lila described as Maya. He is the first cause of all these worlds visible to senses and beyond. In the Vedas apart from this phenomenal world, there are six more worlds invisible to human senses and material scientific instruments where angels, karma devas and other noble communities of human beings live. The effect of Maya in our sense perception of truth is given in Yajur Veda 40-15 to 7 where it says,” the face of truth is covered by golden lid.” Unless the golden lid of Maya, which forms its veil, is removed, one cannot find the truth of Reality. Maya creates this golden disc and hides the God. Rig Veda 1-131-1 and 6-47-18 describe the Universe as His Creative Art (Maya) and for every form He is the model. Svetasvatra Upanishad 4-9,10 describes Brahma as Mayin– the great Illusion maker and Prakrti (divine Nature) as Maya. Rig- Veda 7-33-3 also attributes Maya in Prakrti. Bhagavad Gita has some verses relating to Maya, particularly (7- 4 ,5, 13,14, 25, 27),( 4- 9, 10 ), (3- 27, 39, 40).

The Shuniya Vada i.e. creation of the subtle Prakrti and gross universe out of Shuniya (void) is again based on the doctrine of Vedic Maya. This world of phenomenon is not tuchh or unreal like building castles in the air. It is the cosmic energy that has been converted into gross form as mass and subtle form asguna, otherwise it remains shadow of God which appear as absolutely real to human senses. In the Vedas all material things are atoms and particles and these are produced out of void (shuniya) which contains the spirit of God and acts as the energy principle in all animate and inanimate life/things. In the Indian metaphysics it is known as “Shuniya Vada” and forms a minor but an important school of Indian philosophy. The main six schools of philosophy have been mentioned earlier. All that exists is only consciousness, mind and spirit, which are non-material or immaterial objects, but human senses perceive these as "matter" owing to vehement effect of Maya. Shuniya Vadins tell us that in the beginning except Sat (existence), nothing else existed. Sat is only divine existence without matter, gunas and both gross and subtle atoms. In this Sat the spirit of God entered in the Void and came every subtle and material thing at Zero Time. Since God is eternal, His supreme spirit always existed in the Sat as great cosmic energy principle. This Energy created subtle gunas of purity, activity and passivity and subtle Prakrti as divine Nature was formed with these gunas in certain proportion known only to Him.

This Energy later formed waves, subtle and gross particles and atoms, which formed into mass and this gross universe came into existence along with other worlds not visible to human senses. It is God’s “Will” that acted in shuniya and the world emerged out of Hiranya Garbha -the cosmic Golden Egg. So the primal state was Void having Zero matter in it with no gross or ethereal atoms except the Spirit of God. The secondary stage was creation of subtle and extremely finer particles of gunas, ether (akasha) were formed. Tertiary stage was emerging of gross atoms and main elements (maha bhuta) like air, fire etc. Thus subtle Prakrti, the entire visible Space and universe were built on Void and are capable of expanding to infinite Space and also becoming Zero (Shuniya or Void) on Dissolution. The infinite Space and Time live in Him and He only knows their magnitude. Hence, human beings cannot know Zero Time. Shuniya Vadins consider hat the Nature is still expanding as part of God’s Sristi (cosmic Creation). Maya does not exist at the primal stage of Sat and in the secondary stage of creation of subtle and finer particles and atoms. Maya starts emerging at the tertiary stage and remains till dissolution (Paralya) and then merges into Brahma.

Those individuals who attain Brahma Jnan- higher divine knowledge, it also disappears for them as such persons become One with Brahma. Whether Plato was influenced by Vedic metaphysics or not during his long journey for about a decade in Egypt, Persia and further East, he also found, " behind the world we perceive, there is an ideal world more real than the “world of appearance” in which we live." Even the most powerful and partly omniscient soul in the body lives in void and mind which is also powerful but turbulent, consists of finer atoms of matter like ether and is not visible to human senses and our outer instruments. The grosser atoms are in our senses, sense organs, and all other parts of gross body. Pleasure, enjoyment, heat, cold, pain etc. are perceived by senses and sense organs and not by manifested soul (Jivatma). When the senses and sense organs come under the control of inwards looking mind (manas) through Vedic knowledge, all these feelings of heat, cold, pleasure, pain and other pair of opposites merge and one moves towards Bliss and the effect of Maya disappears. Vedas thus advise that the highest and ideal living is by avoiding illusory smartness i.e. false ego, snobbishness, artificial life of glamour and ostentation. The blind pursuit of money, matter and prestige, power and status are not the requirements of your real extended self (Jivatma) but illusory requirements of your senses that run after even tiny matter. Emerson also found somewhat a similar truth and wrote, " what lies behind us and what lies in front of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

Utility of Doctrine of Maya

When the enlightenment comes, the individual starts moving towards Moksha and attains a permanent bliss and true self-hood in Brahma. Those who understand the great influence of Maya on senses, try to get out of it by dedicated efforts to reduce tamasic gunas in them by all available means. Some of these means are Vedic knowledge, Vidya, leading a life of moderation in thoughts and action, nishkam karma, following the path of Idd Nan Mmam, firm belief in one universal God and His presence in all human beings through His spirit and supreme soul. In this path one finally tries to go beyond guna like Buddha, Sankracharya, Vallabh, Guru Nanak, Vivekananda and many others. The efforts of all such noble souls in maintaining the world order, pollution free atmosphere, air and water, creating spiritual brother hood, love and harmony is well known. So long as you are under the vehement effect of Maya, you cannot escape from the illusion of multiplicity of gods and deities. Finding this pursuit of worship in the temples as not very satisfying, one unknowingly moves towards moderngurus, god men, tantriks and finally gets into utter darkness.

As most of the gurus themselves do not follow the injunctions of Vedas and other scriptures and so they create their own limited philosophy and knowledge far inferior, contradictory and inadequate. They supplement this inadequacy with extraneous matters like food, kind of clothes, praying and meditating with eyes open or closed, in the bright light, dim red light or in darkness. Some of them even go to the extent of doing meditation in groups or in isolation or at a particular time with a few other permutations and combinations so that the technique of one guru should be different from other gurus. Those individuals who understand the effect of Maya all these modern gods, gurus, cults disappear and firm belief in One God and One life becomes dominant. They all find we are part of he same life of formless God who is our supreme Father. We live in Him as cells of His life, which take birth, grow and die and are reborn. It is more like our gross body that has trillions of living cells that are always there but live only for a few hours to a few days and are reborn. Millions of cells in our gross body are getting born and also dying every moment. Spinoza observed this phenomenon and said, " We are cells in the one life of God." The arguments and views of such persons become more consistent along with purity of love not as a loan but a humble donation without expecting any thing in return. They develop divinity in them and soon “aura” appears and is able to convey the message of universal brother hood with ease and conviction.

The Vedic Maya, holy Koran’s world as an illusion of comfort, Immanuel Kant’s phantasmagoria are the only practical philosophy for ending the human sufferings. Misfortunes, violence, terrorism, deceit, all kinds of perversions in society where “ends” have become more important than “means” and where compromises with corruption and evil is a daily phenomenon can considerably reduce with the knowledge of Maya. Since Means and Ends are two sides of the same coin as they act and react on each other. The knowledge that the entire world is created out of Void containing the Spirit of God, the matter is only an illusion (Mithya) to our senses, the delusion that children belong to you even though they are the children of God under your trust on His behalf, your "self" is not your gross body but the immortal and imperishable manifested soul which is a tiny particle of God in you, He lives in our hearts and we live in Him and many other concepts of the Vedic metaphysics help us knowing Maya and getting out of its vehement effect. By not knowing and understanding the doctrine of Maya and the cosmic Saw it creates make the human mind as devil’s workshop. Due to lack of its knowledge, the present destructive race of atom and hydrogen bombs, nuclear missiles, will continue. The speed with which pollution of all kinds, social, economic and political stresses and strains are spreading along with confused and distorted divine knowledge with magic and mythologies will force many of the future children to become atheists, materialists, anti social and rudderless. This trend is already very much visible amongst school children and college students. The present efforts by certain cults, organisations and institutions to create world of unity has become more of a hypocrisy of funds collection and hollow philosophy of exploiting the under developed countries by the developed nations and states. This all is happening due to illusory effect of Maya and more it is ignored more vehement its effect becomes.

The materialists like Hobbes, Machiavelli and ancient Charvakas had no concept of cosmic illusion or phantasmagoria. So they saw and observed all phenomena in the world of matter as real and came to conclusion that human nature is basically negative. They described it as ungrateful, fickle, deceitful, cowardly and avaricious.The human beings live in fear psychosis and the same should be controlled through a strong and dictatorial state and government. The state should be a Leviathan and the ruler should take advantage of this human nature and their fear of future insecurity. The materialists who have no idea of Vedic Maya and its vehement effect tend to be dictatorial, authoritarian, selfish and vindictive. Hobbes in his philosophical treatise on politics " Leviathan" mentions that his mother gave birth to twins- my self and fear. It is due to lack of knowledge that the world is an illusion of comfort that so many terrorists groups, mafia and drug barons private armies etc., are being formed so that the ill gotten tons of money is not snatched by other equally violent groups.

The dark picture of human nature immediately changes when one studies the philosophy of pure, objective and subjective idealists and absolute monists. For most of them man is born with the noble qualities of soul and is good, helpful, social, loving, truthful, transparent and fearless. It is lack of knowledge of Vedas and other scriptures that make the human nature perverted and negative. Most of the idealists tend to believe in phantasmagoria and do not aim at authoritarian state and government. They do not prescribe greater role to the state than minimum required. Their ideal state is Aristocracy- rule of the learned people, Gandhi’s Rama Rjya – where all individuals are equal and their welfare is the main concern of the ruler. Even the rulers have to respect the dignity of men as for them human being is not a gross body of trillions of living cells but the noble soul which should be respected irrespective of economic, social, political or other status in the society. It is for this reason that in the Vedas where Maya is a major metaphysical doctrine, the role assigned to the ruler, king, queen or elected President, commander in chief, ministers, bureaucrats is the welfare of the citizens, their protection from the enemies, ensuring that every one has a minimum economic standard of living and all material extremes to be avoided. The ruler should be accessible to his/her subjects and never be authoritarian. In the mythological epic Ramyana the Vedic ideal ruler and state are depicted in the rule of noble and benevolent king Rama and Gandhi ji advocated ideal rule of the elected President and ideal state for India as Ram rajya.

Thus for bringing the Golden Age or the “ kingdom of heaven” nearer to the earth, the knowledge of Maya would greatly help. The firm belief in its vehement effect can reverse the present trends based on abject materialism. With its knowledge and understanding children can move from vulgar consumerism and extreme selfishness to enlightened liberalism and also from atheism to agnosticism and then to belief in One Universal God for the entire mankind, who is merciful, compassionate and benevolent. He is nirguna Brahma of the Vedas, Allah of the holy Koran, Father in Heaven of holy Bible and Ek Om Kar of holy Grantha Sahib. With its knowledge the degeneration already started in the organised and closed Hindu religion which has almost nothing in common now with its original roots of Vedic metaphysics, can be stopped and even reversed and brought back to its original philosophical heights of the days of Maharsi Vashishata, king Janaka, Yajanavalkya, rsika Gargi and Sankracharya. This will automatically stop the mushroom growth of fake gurus, tantriks, cults and hypocrite swamis and only a few knowledgeable and genuine Vedic gurus and swamis would remain. All kinds of blind faith, unscientific outlook, aimless rituals, ceremonies will disappear leading to search for immanent and a-priori principles for the welfare of entire mankind.

The present situation of basing the truth on perception of the highly unreliable senses and vested interests is a permanent danger to the society. The fake encounters of the police and Defence services in India and abroad with criminals, terrorists and even innocent people of certain sections of society is a part of the phenomena of the senses and sense perception. A large number of innocent and particularly poor people are imprisoned or punished by judicial courts with fake and false witnesses, distortion of truths by senses, manipulation by police, lawyers and filthy rich people and other evils like nexus between criminals and politicians. Obviously the metaphysics of Maya, world as phenomena, phantasmagoria or cosmic illusion is either not known or deliberately ignored, forgetting that this attitude creates more and more vehement effect of Maya. Owing to its lack of knowledge and overlooking its great importance, the world is on the brink of total annihilation with large stockpiles of all kinds of bombs, missiles and other destructive armaments. Many of the materialists scientists and politicians along with certain proxy and defacto rulers with tons of ill gotten money amongst the mafia, drug barons, industrialists, fake gurus have no shame or guilt feelings in case their innocent spiritual brothers and sisters are killed, lamed or incapacitated. The present vicious atmosphere is in all fields of human activities is the creation of uncontrolled senses, Avidya along with excess emphasis on material and intellectual knowledge bereft of spiritual and divine knowledge. The knowledge of the doctrine of Maya can save this beautiful globe and world of senses. The beauty of this world has been explained in the holy Koran and Vedas. The children of the same God and supreme Father can enjoy its beauty while performing their allotted duties based on aptitude, capacity and merit.