First off, what is Maya? Maya is a Sanskrit word which literally means ‘that which is not’ – ‘Ma‘ means ‘not’, ‘Ya‘ means ‘that’. Like chasing mirage (‘ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ’), it never ends and never exists! Thus, Maya is that phenomena which produces the impossible – as the Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) tells us what we deem it to be, it is not like that.
- ਮਾਧਵੇ ਕਿਆ ਕਹੀਐ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਐਸਾ ॥ ਜੈਸਾ ਮਾਨੀਐ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਤੈਸਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : O Maadhav (Rabb, Hukam…)! We beings have such an illusion that it cannot be described; what we deem a thing to be, in reality, it is not like that (i.e. we deem the world is a different or separate entity than you is not right) ||1||Pause|| (sggs 657).
As indicated in the following verse of the Gurbani, the Maya is that Cosmic Illusion which makes us (1) forget our Mool (‘Hari Visrai‘); (2) gives rise to emotional attachment (‘Moh Upjai’); and (3) creates duality (‘Bhaau Doojaa‘).
- 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).
- ਮਾਇਆ ਕਿਸ ਨੋ ਆਖੀਐ ਕਿਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ ॥ ਦੁਖਿ ਸੁਖਿ ਏਹੁ ਜੀਉ ਬਧੁ ਹੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਬਦੈ ਭਰਮੁ ਨ ਚੂਕਈ ਨਾ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਜਾਇ ॥੬॥: What is called Maya? What does Maya do (through beings under its spell)? (The answer is that, under its spell) these beings are bound by pleasure and pain (i.e., the dualistic principle of Sukh and Dukh, etc); and they do their deeds in ‘Haumai’ (false ego-sense). Without the (Realization of the) Shabad, neither the doubt is dispelled nor Haumai is eliminated from within. ||6||(sggs 67).
The illusioned or the doubt-ridden mind dances to the tune of Maya due to its hunger or love of Maya (ਮਾਇਆ ਦੀ ਭੁੱਖ, ਮੋਹ ਮਮਤਾ).
- ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਇਸੁ ਮਨਹਿ ਨਚਾਏ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਕਪਟੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੪॥: The love of Maya makes this mind dance, and the deceit within makes people suffer in pain. ||4|| (sggs 122).
- ਮਾਇਆ ਡੋਲੈ ਬਹੁ ਬਿਧੀ ਮਨੁ ਲਪਟਿਓ ਤਿਹ ਸੰਗ ॥: Maya wavers many ways, the mind clings to this (Maya, also wavers many ways). (sggs 258).
To illustrate the point, the Gurbani adduces the example of monkeys. Monkeys are captured in India as follows: A narrow-necked pot, filled with grains and other eatables that monkeys love, is placed on the ground as a bait. As a monkey comes to take the grains, he puts his hand into the narrow-necked pot and grab hold of the grains. Now, since his hand is full of grains, he cannot take his hand out of the narrow-necked pot and escape. In greed, thus, the foolish monkey does not open his hand and let go of the grains so that he can escape. On account of his greed, the monkey gets trapped and caught. Consequently, the monkey loses the freedom he had in the forest of abundance of grains and fresh fruits of his liking. In other words, for a few grains he loses his entire world! Now caught and bound, he cannot freely play and enjoy life to his heart’s liking. Instead, he is made to dance door to door by his captive!
- ਮਰਕਟ ਮੁਸਟੀ ਅਨਾਜ ਕੀ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਲੀਨੀ ਹਾਥੁ ਪਸਾਰਿ ॥ ਛੂਟਨ ਕੋ ਸਹਸਾ ਪਰਿਆ ਮਨ ਬਉਰਾ ਰੇ ਨਾਚਿਓ ਘਰ ਘਰ ਬਾਰਿ ॥੨॥: O crazy mind! The monkey stretches out its hand (into the narrow-necked pot), and takes a handful of grains; now unable to escape (since its hand is full of grains, it cannot take its hand out of the narrow-necked pot and escape. That is, because of the greed, the monkey will not let go of the grabbed grains — ਦਾਣਿਆਂ ਦੀ ਭਰੀ ਹੋਈ ਮੁੱਠ). O crazy mind! (because of its greed, now the monkey) is made to dance door to door ||2|| (sggs 336).
Similarly, the monkey-mind of humans have chained itself to the narrow-necked pot of the body-consciousness (ਸਰੀਰ ਦਾ ਮੋਹ) — the rule of the senses (or Maya…).
- ਮਾਇਆ ਕੈ ਅਰਥਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਲੋਕ ਨਾਚੇ ਕੋ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਤਤੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥: So many people dance for the sake of Maya; how rare is (one) who Reflects on the Essence (Tatt Giaan, ਤੱਤ ਗਿਆਨ, ਅਸਲ ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਪਛਾਣ). (sggs 506).
- ਇਨਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਬਸਿ ਕੀਨੇ ॥ ਆਪਨ ਮੋਹ ਘਟੇ ਘਟਿ ਦੀਨੇ ॥: This Maya has subjugated beings through the three qualities. Maya has infused its own attachment (love) in each and every heart. (sggs 251).
Is there a solution? The Gurbani says yes – there is a solution.
Towards that solution, the Gurbani prescribes that instead of dancing to the tune of Mayaic intellect, one must make his mind dance to the tune of Bhagti (‘Liv Laagee-ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ’: to become single-minded, one-pointed, etc.).
- ਮਨੂਆ ਨਾਚੈ ਭਗਤਿ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਏ ॥: (A person who lives by the Divine Virtues-‘ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵਣਿਆ’, his) mind dances (the dance of) strengthening Bhagti. (sggs 121).
- ਨਾਚੁ ਰੇ ਮਨ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਆਗੈ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਭਾਣੈ ਨਾਚਹਿ ਤਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਅੰਤੇ ਜਮ ਭਉ ਭਾਗੈ ॥: O mind! Dance the dance of living according to the Gur-Wisdom (this is to dance before the Guru — the Gurmukh Lifestyle). If you dance according to the Gur-Wisdom, you will obtain Happiness, and in the end, the dread of Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.) will leave you alone. (sggs 504).
The Gurbani urges us to become the Gurmukh. In short, a Gurmukh (Bhagat, Daas, Jan…) is a Wise person, brave person, good person, virtuous person, fearless, blissful (Anand), pious person, Joyful, always positive, etc. (ਵਿਦਵਾਨ, ਬਹਾਦੁਰ, ਭਲਾ, ਨੇਕ, ਗੁਣੀ, ਖੁਸ਼, ਹਮੇਸ਼ਾ ਚੜ੍ਹਦੀ ਕਲਾ ਵਿਚ…).
- ਸਿਧ ਸਾਧਿਕ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਨਾਚੇ ਜਿਨ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬੁਧਿ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ॥੪॥: By becoming Gurmukh, whose intellect reflects (on the Gur-Wisdom), those ‘Sidh Saadhik’ become single-minded or one-pointed (i.e., ‘Liv Laagee-ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ’). (sggs 506).
Except this Divine Dance of the Gurbani as described in the foregoing verses, Baabaa Nanak says all other dances being Mayaic only produce sensuousness in the mind, NOT Bhagti!
- ਹੋਰੁ ਨਚਣਾ ਖੁਸੀਆ ਮਨ ਮਾਹ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Other dances produce sensuous pleasure in the mind. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 350).
- ਨਾਚਨੁ ਸੋਇ ਜੁ ਮਨ ਸਿਉ ਨਾਚੈ ॥ ਝੂਠਿ ਨ ਪਤੀਐ ਪਰਚੈ ਸਾਚੈ ॥ ਇਸੁ ਮਨ ਆਗੇ ਪੂਰੈ ਤਾਲ ॥ ਇਸੁ ਨਾਚਨ ਕੇ ਮਨ ਰਖਵਾਲ ॥੨॥: He alone is a dancer, who dances with his mind (not with his body like a street-dancer). (He) does not indulge in falsehood but abides in the Truth. (He) strives to bring the mind into the spiritual realm. (The Divine) is the Guardian of the mind of such a ‘dancer’. ||2|| (sggs 872).
Thus, the Gurbani asserts the true dancer to be the one who dances with his mind to the tune of Wisdom of the Gurbani (who strives to Understand the the Gurbani, and lives it)!
In nutshell, the Gurbani asks us to mend the illusioned mind and its Mayaic dance (i.e., love of Maya – false dance of Maya, ਮਾਇਆ ਦਾ ਝੂਠਾ ਨਿਰਤ, ਮਾਇਆ ਦਾ ਰੰਗ) into the Dance of Truth (Love of Truth: ‘ਸਤਿ ਨਿਰਤਿ’-Sati Nirati, ਸਤ ਦਾ ਰੰਗ…) through Understanding (ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ) of the Gurbani’s Wisdom. Thus, by Reflecting on the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…), one abides in Truth.
- ਸਤਿ ਨਿਰਤਿ ਬੂਝੈ ਜੇ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਤ ਤਾ ਕੀ ਗਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: If a man comes to know the love of the Eternal Rabb (Truth), then by understanding Naam he realizes the expansion-development-progress-blooming of intellect or Budhi. (sggs 284).
- ਸਚਾ ਤਾਲੁ ਪੂਰੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਚੁਕਾਏ ਸਬਦੇ ਨਿਰਤਿ ਕਰਾਵਣਿਆ ॥੩॥: That person (as if) does the true dance when — through the Shabad (Upadesh, Wisdom…) — he removes the attachment of Maya from within. ||3|| (sggs 121).
NO, No, NO!
A real spiritual person or a Gurmukh is NOT a killjoy!
The Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS urges us to be engaged in this world, but with a detached attitude and Wisdom (Akal, keen understanding, discerning intelligence, ਅਕਲ, ਬਿਬੇਕ-ਬੁੱਧੀ…).
- ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਜਿਨਾ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਤਿਨੀ ਵਿਚੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: Says Nanak: By the Gur-Grace (Grace of the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom…) who remain connected (to their Mool, True Nature or Jot Saroop, Aatam Giaan or Wisdom…) realize (Bliss, Mukti or liberation etc.) while using Maya (sggs 921).
- ਜਿਉ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਅਲਿਪਤੋ ਵਰਤੈ ਤਿਉ ਵਿਚੇ ਗਿਰਹ ਉਦਾਸੁ ॥: As the lotus flower floats unaffected in the water, so does one must remain detached in his own household (sggs 949).