The Tree of Knowledge

The Tree of Knowledge

Inspiring stories

The Indefinable nature of maya

 Vedanta uses the expression anirvachaniya kyathi. Anirvachaniya means indefinable. Maya by its very nature defies definition and description. Who is the Creator? The Lord! What is the object that was created? Jivatma! What is maya? Is it Lord the Creator, or jiva the object created that has the property of maya? If jiva has maya, then jiva has come from maya. If God has maya, God is jiva. Maya means ya ma sa maya. Ya means that, ma means not, sa means that which is maya. From that which is not, He created the world. Let me give a modern example. A king had 17 elephants. Then the king died. He had three sons. According to his will, the first son was entitled to one-half of the number of elephants, the second to one-third, and the third to one-ninth. The size of the share couldn’t be changed. As 17 is an odd number, and difficult to share among the three, they were unable to find a solution to the challenge. 

Fortunately for them, a wise man was passing through their country. He was an old friend of their father as well. The young men described their predicament and asked for his help. The wise man asked them not to worry and set about solving the problem immediately. He added his elephant to the 17 elephants; they were now 18. He separated 9 elephants or one-half of 18, and gave them to the first son. The second son was given six elephants or one-third of 18. Lastly, the third son was given two elephants, two being one ninth of 18. The total number of elephants given away was 17 (9+6+2). The eighteenth elephant left was that of the wise man, who took his elephant back and left, with everybody happy and satisfied.


The last elephant is like maya: it came to solve a problem, and having solved it, it removes itself from the scene, leaving no trace of its previous presence.


Here’s another example: You are a king, sleeping, and you dream that you are a beggar. Your guru appears in the dream and tells you that you are not a beggar, but a king. Similarly, you may be under the delusion that you are paramatma, not jivatma. You are like the king who dreams he is a beggar. The guru reveals that it is your delusion, and that it is maya that makes you think you are a beggar. Which identity is maya, the king’s or the beggar’s? The king has only to wake up for delusions to disappear.  

“When and where can I experience enlightenment?” asked the student. The master replied, “Right here, and right now.”  

“Then why don’t I experience it?” the student persisted. “Because you do not see,” said the master. “Not seeing what?” asked the student. “You don’t see the flower, the tree, or the sun,” the teacher said patiently. “Yes,” the student said, “I do see the flower, the tree, and the sun, but is there a special way of seeing them?”  

The master said, “No, there is no special way, you can look at them from an ordinary perspective.” Then with a tone of finality, the master added, “In order to see, you must be awake, but you are asleep.”  

So wake up. Open your eyes.  

* * * 

The Prince is Drowning 

Some of the greatest lessons have been taught by Birbal to Emperor Akbar. So simple and subtle was his way of teaching that these little anecdotes have been preserved by the then scholars for posterity.  

Once Emperor Akbar, in the presence of his courtiers, ridiculed the Hindu belief that God adopts a physical form and descends into the world for the restoration of Dharma or Righteousness. He made fun of the idea of the Great Nirakari Allah i.e. the formless God stooping to descend to Earth in any form. The courtiers were unable to furnish arty argument to counter the ridicule of the king. Birbal asked for a week’s time to prove the Emperor wrong.  

One day, the Emperor and his family were taking a joy ride in a boat in the palace lake. All of a sudden, there was a huge splash and Birbal shouted: “Oh Lord! The prince has fallen overboard! He is drowning.” In an instant, the Emperor plunged into the lake to save the prince. When the Emperor reached the drowning prince and pulled him out of the water, he realized that it was not really the prince, but a rag doll that was an absolute replica of the Prince. He turned back to look at the boat ready to spew his venom on the one who had dared to pull off such a prank.  

To his shock he found Birbal standing there with folded hands saying, “Jahanpanhah! Don’t worry, the Prince is safe.” The angry and drenched Emperor got back into the boat fuming, but speechless! Just then Birbal said humbly, “Jahanpanah! Forgive me, but that was the only way I could have explained to you why God comes in human form to save His children from doom! There were so many of us in the boat; you could have ordered anyone of us to plunge into the lake and rescue the Prince, but you did not. You trusted none of us, because you loved your son, so much.”  

So too. God loves us so much that when He feels that we really need Him, He incarnates as an Avatar. He comes in human form to appease the hunger of those who desire to see Him, touch Him, talk to Him, adore Him, serve Him and achieve Him. Yes! God really does come down to Earth!  

Dear reader, did you ever wonder, why He comes… We would like to share with you the words of Master. “I have come to give you the key of the treasure of Bliss, to tell you how to tap that spring, for you have forgotten the way to blessedness. If you waste this chance of saving yourselves, it is just your fate. You have come to get from Me tinsel and trash, the petty little cures and promotions, worldly joys and comforts. Very few of you desire to get from Me the thing I have come to give you, viz. liberation itself, and even among these few, those who stick to the path of spiritual discipline and ultimately succeed are a handful.”  

Strange isn’t it! Man has a thousand desires from God; God’s only desire is to make man desire­less and that too, just because He loves us all.  

Let us understand it in another way. When a bridge breaks, any Tom, Dick or Harry cannot repair it to perfection. The contractor who had originally constructed it and planned it must be called. So too, when Righteousness becomes diseased, He who had laid down the tenets of Righteousness has to come and cure it. The five bridges or human values of Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love and Non-violence have been laid down by the Lord Himself and He has come to repair and rebuild these that lie in ruins today.  

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