ਸੋਹਾਗਨਿ ਕਿਰਪਨ ਕੀ ਪੂਤੀ ॥ ਸੇਵਕ ਤਜਿ ਜਗਤ ਸਿਉ ਸੂਤੀ ॥
ਸਾਧੂ ਕੈ ਠਾਢੀ ਦਰਬਾਰਿ॥ਸਰਨਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਨਿਸਤਾਰਿ ॥) (sggs 872).

According to the ancient Indian religious Granths, Maya is indicated to be tripple-qualitied or having three Guna. However, the SGGS (Sri Guru Granth Sahib), goes one step further. In addition to the Maya's three qualities (three modes of material nature), it also indicates three aspects of Maya as follows:

(1) Maya as the daughter of the miser.
(2) Maya as the wife of the worldly persons.
(3) Maya as the slave of the Holy people, and so on.

  • ਸੋਹਾਗਨਿ ਕਿਰਪਨ ਕੀ ਪੂਤੀ ॥ ਸੇਵਕ ਤਜਿ ਜਗਤ ਸਿਉ ਸੂਤੀ ॥ ਸਾਧੂ ਕੈ ਠਾਢੀ ਦਰਬਾਰਿ॥ ਸਰਨਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਨਿਸਤਾਰਿ ॥: Sohaagani kirapan kee pootee. Sevak taji jagat siou sootee.Saadhoo kai thaadhee darabaari. Sarani teree mo kaou nisataari (sggs 872).

Before attempting to reflect on these three aspects of Maya, let's briefly review the three Guna (or qualities) of Maya. These three qualities of Maya — three thought-conditions or states of the mind — have already been dealt with in a little detail in two separate Gurbani Reflections. In brief, these three Guna are Saatav, Raajas, and Taamas (Sat, Raj, Tam or Sato, Rajo, Tamo). In English, these can be called goodness, passion and ignorance, respectively. They are like intertwined strands of the winding cord or rope inherent in one's nature. Combination of these three Guna in various permutation, determines the individual personality, mind and intellect. In other words, different aspects in the character and the conduct of persons is regulated by the proportion in which these three constituents are mixed. This conditioning of the mind is responsible not only for the diversity in people, but also each Jeeva's (individual being) interpretation of God. That is, the Taamas person's faith is Tamo-Gunee; the Raajas person's faith is Rajo-Gunee; and the Saatav person's faith is Sato-Gunee. In nutshell, when Saatav predominates it gives inner joy while Raajas impels one to excessive activity and, Taamas clouds the intellect thereby making the person dull and mind-blind. Hence, every individual is unique and his nature is determined by the interplay of these three qualities, which are always in a state of flux in a person and are responsible not only for his faith but also for his thoughts, actions and response to situations.

  • ਰਜ ਗੁਣ ਤਮ ਗੁਣ ਸਤ ਗੁਣ ਕਹੀਐ ਇਹ ਤੇਰੀ ਸਭ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਚਉਥੇ ਪਦ ਕਉ ਜੋ ਨਰੁ ਚੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਹੀ ਪਰਮ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੨॥: Raj gun tam gun sat gun kaheeai ih teri sabh maya. Chauthe pad kau jo nar cheenai tin hee param pad paaiaa ||2||: (O Lord) Raajas, Taamas, and Saatav modes are the creations of Your Maya. The man who realizes the Fourth State; he alone obtains the Supreme Status ||2|| (sggs 1123).
  • ਰਜ ਤਮ ਸਤ ਕਲ ਤੇਰੀ ਛਾਇਆ ॥: Raj tam sat kal teri chhaaya: O Lord, your power is inherited in the three modes of material nature (sggs 1037).
  • ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਚਉਥਾ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਇ ॥: Trai gun maya moh hai Gurmukh chauthaa pad paai: The three qualitied Maya's Moh (worldly attachment) is (prevalent). Who becomes the Gurmukh attains the Fourth State (the state that transcends Maya) (sggs 30).
  • ਤ੍ਰਿਹੁ ਗੁਣ ਬੰਧੀ ਦੇਹੁਰੀ ਜੋ ਆਇਆ ਜਗਿ ਸੋ ਖੇਲੁ ॥: Trihu gun bandhee dehuree jo aaiaa jagi so khel: The three qualities of Maya hold the body in bondage; whoever comes into the world is subject to their play (sggs 21).
  • ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਪਸਾਰਾ ਸਭ ਵਰਤੈ ਆਕਾਰੀ ॥ ਤੁਰੀਆ ਗੁਣੁ ਸਤਸੰਗਤਿ ਪਾਈਐ ਨਦਰੀ ਪਾਰਿ ਉਤਾਰੀ ॥੨॥: Trai guna Maya mohu pasaaraa sabh vartai aakaaree. Turiya Gunu sat sangati paayeeai nadree paari utaaree ||2||: Attachment to the three-phased show of Maya pervades the world of objects. Associating with Sat (Truth), Turiya is attained (the State of Supreme Awareness beyond the three qualities of Maya); (whosoever attains this Turiya Avasthaa) the Divine Grace carries (that person) across (from the Maya-ocean). ||2|| (sggs 1260).
  • ਕਈ ਕੋਟਿ ਰਾਜਸ ਤਾਮਸ ਸਾਤਕ ॥: Kayee koti Rraajas Taamas Saatak: Many millions abide in heated activity (Raajas), slothful darkness (Taamas) and peaceful light (Saatak) (sggs 276).

The SGGS examines and analyses these three Guna as well as diagnoses its maladies. According to these three modes of material nature acquired by the embodied Soul, one's faith can be considered as Saatavic, Raajasic, and Taamasic. Abidance in Saatav is indicated to be essential to progress spiritually. As pointed out by the SGGS, Maya's delusive force covers the vision of the living entities and makes them forget the Self ("Hari Visrai"), it gives rise to the emotional attachment ("Moh Upjai"), and it creates relativism or duality ("Bhaau Doojaa"). Owing to its delusive nature, Maya can be defined as that which is not ("ma" means "not", "ya" means "that") — "what we deem a thing to be, in reality, it is not like that" (sggs 657). In other words, Maya is that illusion and mirage which produces the impossible. It's the principle of pluralism. When the Eternal living entity (Soul or the Self) comes in contact with the material nature, he becomes tainted or conditioned by these qualities and forgets that he is the part-and-parcel of God (Joti-Svaroopa) and that his True Nature is Pure Awareness and Bliss.

  • ਏਹ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ਲਾਇਆ ॥: This is Maya, by which (1) "Hari" (Mool) is forgotten; (2) (worldly) attachment is born, and (3) the love of duality is set (sggs 921).
  • ਮਾਧਵੇ ਕਿਆ ਕਹੀਐ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਐਸਾ ॥ ਜੈਸਾ ਮਾਨੀਐ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਤੈਸਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Maadhve kiya kaheeyai bhram aisaa. Jaisaa maaneeyai hoi na taisaa ||1||Rahaaou||: O Lord, what can I say about this illusion; what we deem a thing to be, in reality, it is not like that ||1||Pause|| (sggs 657).
  • ਜੋ ਇਹੁ ਜਾਣਹੁ ਸੋ ਇਹੁ ਨਾਹਿੁ ॥: Jo ih Janahu so ih naahi: That which is known, does not exist (sggs 885).
  • ਮਾਈ ਮਾਇਆ ਛਲੁ ॥: Maayee Maya Chhall: O my mother, the Maya is deceitful (sggs 717).
  • ਮਾਇਆ ਚਿਤ੍ਰ ਬਚਿਤ੍ਰ ਬਿਮੋਹਿਤ ਬਿਰਲਾ ਬੂਝੈ ਕੋਈ ॥: Maya chittar bachittar bimohit birlaa boojhai kooee: The marvellous image of Maya is so fascinating; how few understand this (sggs 485).
  • ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਜਿਸੁ ਉਦਰੁ ਤਿਸੁ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: Kahi kabeer jis udar tis Maya: Says Kabeer, whoever has a belly to fill, is under the spell of Maya (sggs 1160).

In short, whatever deludes a person away from his godly status (Joti-Svaroopa, Pure Consciousness etc.) is Maya for him. Having briefly discussed the three Guna of Maya, now lets's try to briefly reflect on the three aspects of Maya

(1) Maya is as the Daughter of the Miser

A miser person (Soom) is also called "Kripan" in the SGGS. As he serves only Maya, consequently, the "Kripan" is a repository of all Bikaars (negativities): lust, anger greed, attachment, pride, enviousness, stubborn mindedness, selfishness, unrighteousness, and other numerous variations of these negative tendencies. He dose not know giving; for giving or sharing is not his nature. As a result, he only knows taking, stealing, squandering, misappropriating, and so on. He is in love with wealth and "calls it his own". He is "full of sins".

  • ਕਿਰਪਨ ਤਨ ਮਨ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਭਰੇ ॥: Kirapan tann mann kilavikh bhare: O miser, your body and mind are full of sin (sggs 714).
  • ਕਾਮਿ ਕਰੋਧਿ ਮੋਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਕੀਆ ਕਿਰਪਨ ਲੋਭਿ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥: Kaam karodhh mohi vas keeaa kirapan lobh piaar: Uunder the power of lust, anger and worldly attachment, a miser is in love with greed (sggs 70).
  • ਧਾਇ ਧਾਇ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਨ ਸ੍ਰਮੁ ਕੀਨੋ ਇਕਤ੍ਰ ਕਰੀ ਹੈ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: Dhaaye dhaaye kirapan sram keeno ikatr karee hai Maya: With great effort and exertion, the miser works to amass Maya (sggs 712).
  • ਸੂਮਹਿ ਧਨੁ ਰਾਖਨ ਕਉ ਦੀਆ ਮੁਗਧੁ ਕਹੈ ਧਨੁ ਮੇਰਾ: Soomahi dhan raakhan kaou deeaa mugadh kahai dhan meraa: The miser is busy in amaasing wealth, and the fool (miser) calls it his own (sggs 479).
  • ਕਿਰਪਨ ਕਉ ਅਤਿ ਧਨ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥: Kirapan kaou ati dhan piaar : The miser is totally in love with the wealth (sggs 1180).
  • ਰੋਵਹਿ ਕਿਰਪਨ ਸੰਚਹਿ ਧਨੁ ਜਾਇ ॥: Rovahi kirapan sanchahi dhan jaai: The miser amasses wealth, but cries when it is gone (sggs 954).

Thus the miser person is said to be the lowest of the low. He is like that of the dog in the manger. Any society where misers are prevalent will suffer; for misers can only increase the suffering of others in the world. A miser cannot be the support of anybody. He is unaware of the truth that to gain real happiness one has to selflessly give (Vand Shaknaa). Hence, he creates hellish existence on this earth for himself as well as for others to live in.

Influenced by the money, we become greedy. In turn, greed gives rise to corruption, selfishness and stealing. Accordingly, the SGGS indicates that the greedy persons cannot be trusted. Such people are compared to the mad dog with rabies. "Their madness ruins everything", states the Gurbani.

  • ਲੋਭੀ ਕਾ ਵੇਸਾਹੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੈ ਜੇ ਕਾ ਪਾਰਿ ਵਸਾਇ ॥: Lobhee kaa vesaahu na keejai je kaa paar vasaai: If you can avoid doing so, do not trust the greedy person (sggs 1417).

The SGGS urges us to conquer relativist consciousness and fix the mind in the sameness. However, in selfishness, the miser does not see the same One Essence in all beings.

(2) Maya is as the Wife of the Worldly Persons

Saints live in this world too. "Maya is the wife of the worldly persons" simply means a person (Sansaaree, Saakat etc.) living in Mayaic consciousness rooted in desires and attachments — materiality or Manmukhtaa. The SGGS calls such persons "foolish", "evil", "demons", "unconscious", sleeping in "egotism" or Haume, devoid of love for the "Name" and real "Understanding, "self-willed", and so on. The SGGS declares that to be friend with such people is nothing but friendship with Maya, which leads to ruin.

  • ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਸੂਤਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਿ ਪਿਆਰਿ ॥: Manmukh sootaa Maya mohi piaar: The Manmukhs are asleep, in love and attachment to Maya (sggs 160).
  • ਦੁਨੀਆ ਕੇਰੀ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਦਝਿ ਮਰੰਨਿ ॥: Duneeaa keree dosatee Manmukh dajhi maranni: Making worldly friendships (the love of Maya), the Manmukhs (self-willed ...) burn and die (destroy their spiritual life - ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਸਾੜ ਕੇ ਸੁਆਹ ਕਰ ਲੈਂਦੇ ਹਨ). (sggs 755).
  • ਜੋ ਮੋਹਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇਦੇ ਮੇਰੀ ਜਿੰਦੁੜੀਏ ਸੇ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਮੂੜ ਬਿਤਾਲੇ ਰਾਮ ॥: Jo mohi Maya chit laaide meree jindurreeeye se Manmukh moorr bitaale raam: Those Manmukhs who focus their consciousness on Maya, O my soul, are foolish and devilish (sggs 538).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖਾ ਕੇਰੀ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਸਨਬੰਧੁ ॥: Manmukhaa keree dosatee Maya kaa sambandh: Manmukhs's Friendship is an alliance with Maya (sggs 959).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਹੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਨ ਲਗੈ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥: Manmukh Maya mohu hai naam an lagai piaar: The Manmukhs are emotionally attached to Maya; (for thie reason) they are not in love with the Lord's Name (sggs 1423).
  • ਚਲ ਚਿਤ ਵਿਤ ਭ੍ਰਮਾ ਭ੍ਰਮੰ ਜਗੁ ਮੋਹ ਮਗਨ ਹਿਤੰ ॥: Chal chit vit bhramaa bhramam jag moh magan hitham: (Worldly) wealth makes the mind restless; but the world remains intoxicated attached to this worldly love (sggs 505).
  • ਬਿਰਥੀ ਸਾਕਤ ਕੀ ਆਰਜਾ ॥: Birathee saakat kee aarajaa: The life of the faithless cynic is totally useless (sggs 269).

Full of sorrow, injustice, repeated suffering, evil, disease, death and other faults, the worldly consciousness (Manmukhtaa) is our own making. In Mayaic or worldly consciousness, the Soul is also tainted with limitations, ignorance, duality (Doojaa Bhaav) and other imperfections, Bikaars or negativities. Hence, the path of the worldliness is indicative of the Soul being engrossed in ignorance and fulfillment of instinctive and intellectual urges and fancies.

  • ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਥਾਕੇ ਵਡੇ ਵਡੇਰੇ ॥ ਕਿਨ ਹੀ ਨ ਕੀਏ ਕਾਜ ਮਾਇਆ ਪੂਰੇ ॥: Kar kar thaake vade vadayre. Kin hee na keeeye kaaj Maya poore: All (our) forefathers got tired doing (Maya's task or acting in Mayaic consciousness). None of them ever accomplished tasks of Maya: none got his desires satiated (sggs 889).
  • ਮਾਇਆ ਮਹਿ ਕਾਲੁ ਅਰੁ ਪੰਚ ਦੂਤਾ ॥: Maya mahi kaal ar panch dootaa: Death and the five demons (i.e., lust, anger etc.) are in Maya (sggs 1160).

(3) Maya is as the Slave of the Holy People

The Gurbani indicates that, as the miser (and the Manmukh, Saakat etc.) serves Maya, they are Maya's slaves — they work for Maya. To the contrary, the Holy ones (Saadhoos, Saints, Mahaatamaans, Gurmukhs etc.) serve only God. Thereby, Maya is their slave (i.e., Maya works for them). As true spiritual beings (Persons of Perfection or Pooran Purakh), they are selfless and live for others. Their words are medicine: the Light in the darkness.

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਦਾਸੀ ਭਗਤਾ ਕੀ ਕਾਰ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥: Maya daasee bhagataa kee kaar kamaavai: Maya is the slave of the Lord's devotees; it works for them (sggs 231).
  • ਮਾਇਆ ਬੰਦੀ ਖਸਮ ਕੀ ਤਿਨ ਅਗੈ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਕਾਰ ॥: Maya bandee khasam kee tin agai kamaavai kaar: Maya, the maid-servant of God, serves them: the Lord's devotees (sggs 90).
  • ਜਾ ਕੈ ਸਿਮਰਨਿ ਕਵਲਾ ਦਾਸਿ ॥: Jaa kai simaran kavalaa daas: Meditating on God, Maya becomes one's slave (sggs 986).
  • ਸਿਮਰਤ ਨਹ ਕਿਉ ਮੁਰਾਰਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਾ ਕੀ ਚੇਰੀ ॥: Simarath nah kiou muraar Maya jaa kee chaeree: Why not meditate on the Lord? Even Maya is His slave (sggs 1352).

The Holy people remain unaffected by Maya because they do not live in the menacing body-consciousness. Here the SGGS is not talking about the bogus Holy ones (saints, Gurus, Mahaatamaans, Gurmukhs etc.) — swindlers or religious con-artists, merely interested in money and sex. These fake ones take advantage of the worldly consciousness of the people and cheat them. The reality is, in the worldly consciousness of desires and attachments, we cannot differentiate between the real and the fake ones (ਸੱਤ and ਅਸੱਤ). The entire SGGS sings the Glory of the Holy. Transcending the three Guna of Maya, they are established in the Fourth State (Chauthaa Pada) of Consciousness. If one desire to read more about the enduring qualities or values of the real Holy people, read, for example, "Gaurhee Sukhmani Mahalaa 5" (sggs 262).

  • ਸਾਧ ਕੀ ਉਪਮਾ ਤਿਹੁ ਗੁਣ ਤੇ ਦੂਰਿ ॥: Saadh kee oupamaa tihu gun te doori: The greatness of the Holy is beyond the (Maya's) three qualities (sggs 272).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾਧ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਭੇਦੁ ਨ ਭਾਈ ॥: Nanak saadh prabh bhed na bhaaee: O Nanak, there is no difference between the Holy people and God (sggs 272).
  • ਸਾਕਤ ਮਰਹਿ ਸੰਤ ਸਭਿ ਜੀਵਹਿ ॥: Saakat marahi sant sabh jeevahi: The faithless cynics or Saakat (repeatedly) die, while the Saints live Eternally (sggs 326).
  • ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਚਉਥਾ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਇ ॥: Trai gun Maya moh hai Gurmukh chouthaa pad paai: The three qualities hold people in attachment to Maya. By becomimg a Gurmukh (spiritual being) attains the Fourth State (sggs 30).

A complete guide to the practical and Holy or Pure Life of Higher Consciousness (Gurmukh Lifestyle), the Gurbani is of the nature of God. If one chooses to, it provides all that is needed to raise one's consciousness to the Highest possible dimension (Gurmukhtaa).

— T. Singh