The word Maya occurs frequently in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS)>. In order to impart the Truth (ਸਚ), all 35 contributors of the SGGS have used terms that were already within the use and within the psyche of people of the time.
However, they have used these terms as examples (ਹਵਾਲਾ), but explicitly with new meanings and understanding to fit the new spiritual paradigms of Sikhi or Gurmat.
That said, CONTRARY to the Indian tradition, Maya in SGGS does not mean illusion or the unreality of the physical world. In fact according to the Unique Sikhi or Gurmat of Baabaa Nanak, world is real as it is the Creation of the Creator:
- ਸਚੇ ਤੇਰੇ ਖੰਡ ਸਚੇ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰਡ ॥ ਸਚੇ ਤੇਰੇ ਲੋਅ ਸਚੇ ਆਕਾਰ ॥ ਸਚੇ ਤੇਰੇ ਕਰਣੇ ਸਰਬ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥ ਸਚਾ ਤੇਰਾ ਅਮਰੁ ਸਚਾ ਦੀਬਾਣੁ ॥ : True are Your universes and true their parts. True are Your habitats and true are creatures of different forms and shapes. True are Your actions/works and true are all of your deliberations and decisions. True is Your authority and true Your is justice. (sggs 463).
- ਇਹੁ ਜਗੁ ਸਚੈ ਕੀ ਹੈ ਕੋਠੜੀ ਸਚੇ ਕਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਵਾਸੁ ॥: This world is the abode of God, who resides in it. (sggs 463).
- ਧਰਤਿ ਉਪਾਇ ਧਰੀ ਧਰਮ ਸਾਲਾ ॥ : The Earth was created to practice Dharma. (sggs 1033).
The Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS asserts that we all are in the spell (grip, grasp, hook, net (Jaal), claws, hands, trap or talons) of Maya.
- ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਜਿਸੁ ਉਦਰੁ ਤਿਸੁ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: Says Kabeer, whoever has a belly to fill, is under the spell of Maya. (sggs 1160).
Now, what is Maya according to the SGGS?
As indicated in the following verses of the Gurbani, anything becomes Maya which makes one (1) forget 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).
In a nutshell, Maya is Bhav Saagar of worldly temptations and their corrupting influences. In short, it gives the impression of being something it is not. Literally, this is exactly what the word ‘Maya’ means — ‘that which is not’. In Sanskrit ‘Ma’ means ‘not’, ‘ya’ means ‘that’.
In addition to ‘Supan-ਸੁਪਨ’ (lit. dream), ‘Jhooth-ਝੂਠ’ (lit. false etc.), ‘Koorh-ਕੂੜੁ’ (lit. falsehood etc.), ‘Bharam-ਭਰਮੁ’ (lit. doubt, confusion etc.), ‘Chalanhaar-ਚਲਣਹਾਰੁ’ (lit. fleeting etc.), ‘Mithiya-ਮਿਥਿਆ’ (lit. delusory etc.).
By calling this world ‘Mithiya-ਮਿਥਿਆ’, ‘Supan-ਸੁਪਨ’, ‘Jhooth-ਝੂਠ’. ‘Koorh-ਕੂੜੁ’, ‘Bharam-ਭਰਮੁ’ etc., the Gurbani does NOT mean this world is non-existent. If this world was nonexistent then it would not have been experienced by us. Then is it real? Yes, it is real since we experience it. However it is called ‘Mithiya-ਮਿਥਿਆ’ etc. in a sense that it is subject to change every moment. We think it to be permanent, it is not; we think it to be nonperishable, it is not; we think it to be changeless, it is not; and so on.
It is the imagination of the deluded mind which never ends and never exists! Thus, it continually baffles humanity, and poses the greatest roadblock in the path to Spiritual Enlightenment by making the mirage-like attractions of the enchanting world appear as permanent, everlasting etc.
- ਮਾਈ ਮਾਇਆ ਛਲੁ ॥: O mother! Maya is deceitful. (sggs 717).
- ਬਾਬਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਰਚਨਾ ਧੋਹੁ ॥: O brother! Deceitful (fleeting etc.) is the worldly splendor. (sggs 15).
Further, according to Baabaa Nanak, Maya is Haumai (false ego-sense) and its progeny of five drives/instincts: Bikaar (i.e. lust, anger, greed, attachment, and pride and their numerous variations). Haumai and its five faults are responsible for the killing of one’s Original Nature (Jot Saroop), corruption of morals, the development of criminal behavior (‘Apraadh‘), individual suffering, bloody international conflicts etc. Thus it is also called the invisible fire which is constantly fueled by these five elements. This hidden fire has consumed the world.
Haumai (false ego-sense) is innate to human life. It is Haumai and its faults (five drives/instincts) (Kaam, Kroadh, Loabh, Moh, and Ahankar) that influence the psychology of human mind – mental functions and
human behavior or instinctual aspects of our mental lives. These drives/instincts give rise to the erotic and destructive components of mental activities.
- ਹਉਮੈ ਸਭੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਹੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਓਪਤਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: Haumai helps the evolution of life as Haumai is innate to all beings. (sggs 560).
- ਮਾਣਸੁ ਭਰਿਆ ਆਣਿਆ ਮਾਣਸੁ ਭਰਿਆ ਆਇ ॥ : Human is born with Haumai and remains self-centered. (sggs 554).
- ਚਿਰੰਕਾਲ ਇਹ ਦੇਹ ਸੰਜਰੀਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : It took a very long time for the human body to evolve through many evolutionary stages of life. Now is your time to meet the Creator of the universe. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 176).
- ਹਉਮੈ ਏਹਾ ਜਾਤਿ ਹੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਏਈ ਬੰਧਨਾ ਫਿਰਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਜੋਨੀ ਪਾਹਿ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਕਿਥਹੁ ਊਪਜੈ ਕਿਤੁ ਸੰਜਮਿ ਇਹ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਏਹੋ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਹੈ ਪਇਐ ਕਿਰਤਿ ਫਿਰਾਹਿ ॥ : It is the nature of Haumai that it governs the actions of beings. It is the influence of Haumai that one’s mind is born and dies every moment. Where does Haumai come from and how can it be controlled? Haumai is that Hukam (Cosmic Law, System-Rule-Law of Nature) that controls evolution of life. (sggs 466).
What has been the surest means of life’s survival and progress has now, according to the SGGS, become ‘the great disease-ਵਡਾ ਰੋਗੁ’ of man.
- ਹਉਮੈ ਦੀਰਘ ਰੋਗੁ ਹੈ ਦਾਰੂ ਭੀ ਇਸੁ ਮਾਹਿ ॥: Ego is a chronic disease, but it contains its own cure as well (sggs 466).
Therefore, what we are asked by the Gurbani is to annihilate the negative aspect or negative impact of the BLOATED egotism or self-centeredness (Haumai), which kills our True Nature. It feels real because we attach our false ego-sense to some perceived parameters in some form, such as power, status, beauty, youth, strength, wealth, education, knowledge, possessions, Jaat Paat (casteism) etc. Prior to the movement of the false ego-sense (Haumai), the Gurbani tells us our mind’s ORIGINAL NATURE is Jot Saroop.
- ਕਿਤੁ ਕਿਤੁ ਬਿਧਿ ਜਗੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਪੁਰਖਾ ਕਿਤੁ ਕਿਤੁ ਦੁਖਿ ਬਿਨਸਿ ਜਾਈ ॥ ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਜਗੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਪੁਰਖਾ ਨਾਮਿ ਵਿਸਰਿਐ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਈ ॥ : (Yogi asked) O respected one, how is life created and how could its suffering be eliminated? (Baabaa Nanak answers) O respected one, it is Haumai (false ego-sense) which is innate to life that causes alienation from God – the cause of suffering. (sggs 946).
- ਜਬ ਹਮ ਹੋਤੇ ਤਬ ਤੂ ਨਾਹੀ ਅਬ ਤੂਹੀ ਮੈ ਨਾਹੀ ॥ ਅਨਲ ਅਗਮ ਜੈਸੇ ਲਹਰਿ ਮਇ ਓਦਧਿ ਜਲ ਕੇਵਲ ਜਲ ਮਾਂਹੀ ॥੧॥ ਮਾਧਵੇ ਕਿਆ ਕਹੀਐ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਐਸਾ ॥ ਜੈਸਾ ਮਾਨੀਐ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਤੈਸਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਨਰਪਤਿ ਏਕੁ ਸਿੰਘਾਸਨਿ ਸੋਇਆ ਸੁਪਨੇ ਭਇਆ ਭਿਖਾਰੀ ॥ ਅਛਤ ਰਾਜ ਬਿਛੁਰਤ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਸੋ ਗਤਿ ਭਈ ਹਮਾਰੀ ॥੨॥ ਰਾਜ ਭੁਇਅੰਗ ਪ੍ਰਸੰਗ ਜੈਸੇ ਹਹਿ ਅਬ ਕਛੁ ਮਰਮੁ ਜਨਾਇਆ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਕਟਕ ਜੈਸੇ ਭੂਲਿ ਪਰੇ ਅਬ ਕਹਤੇ ਕਹਨੁ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥੩॥ ਸਰਬੇ ਏਕੁ ਅਨੇਕੈ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਸਭ ਘਟ ਭੋੁਗਵੈ ਸੋਈ ॥ ਕਹਿ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਹਾਥ ਪੈ ਨੇਰੈ ਸਹਜੇ ਹੋਇ ਸੁ ਹੋਈ ॥੪॥੧॥ : As long as false ego-sense remains inside us beings, then You (within us) do not appear, but when you appear then our ‘I’ (Haumai or egotism) disappears. (With the disappearance of this ‘I’- Haumai, egotism – it is understood that) as the storm fills the ocean with waves, but in reality those (waves of the ocean) are only water in the water (so You pervades in all these living beings. ||1|| O God, what can we say, we are so deluded by doubt, that what we believe, the reality is not like that. ||1||Pause|| It is like a king, who falls asleep upon his throne, and dreams (that he has become a) beggar. (Although) his kingdom is intact, but separated from it (in his dream), he suffers pain. Such is our condition. ||2| As is the story of the rope and the snake (i.e., rope mistaken for a snake in darkness), some mystery has now been explained (to me). Like the many bracelets (made of gold), which were mistakenly thought (of separate or different from the gold); now, (I) do not say that. ||3|| Amidst all, the one God has assumed many forms, and He is enjoying pervading all the Hearts. Ravi Das says: God is nearer to us than even our hands, and whatever is happening, is happening in His Hukam (System-Rule-Law-Order of Nature). ||4||1|| (sggs 657-658).
Here is an another example which may further help us understand our mind’s delusion:
An old man had three sons and seventeen elephants. According to his will, the first son was to inherit one-half the elephants, the second son one-third, and the third son one-ninth. After the old man passed away, his sons began fighting among themselves as the number seventeen was not divisible by any number itself. As they were arguing, a Wise Man (the Gurmukh) came that way riding on an elephant. He inquired the three sons the cause of their argument. After ascertaining the cause of their argument, the Wise Man told them that he could solve their problem. He added his elephant to the seventeen to make the total of eighteen. According to the provisions of their father’s will, he gave the first son nine elephants (one-half of 18), the second son six elephants (one-third of 18), the third son two elephants (one-ninth of 18). Since the total of 9+6+2=17, his elephant was left over and he rode away on it!
Here we can see that the Wise Man played the role of a Giaanee (the Gurmukh, Enlightened), and his elephant played the role of Maya. Once the Wise Man solved the problem, Maya rode away with him!
The sons were happy that the division was in accordance with their father’s will. However, was the division indeed in accordance with their father’s will?
It was not. It was a mere delusion that they had kept to the provisions of their father’s will. Such is the nature of Maya that we take comfort from what we see as conducive to our liking and get angry, insecure, and restless over what we perceive as contrary (not conducive, unfavorable, etc.) to our liking.
- What is Maya?
- Haumai Maya
- Bhav Saagar
- World is Consumed by Hidden Fire
- Dance Of The Mind Attached To Maya
- Mind Clinging to Maya can’t be Trusted
- Gur-Shabad is the antidote to poison of Maya-serpent
- How Do We Become Maya’s Slave
- Mind That Gives Up Hunger For Maya Realizes Its Mool
- Rope Mistaken for a Snake!
- Gurbani Says We are in a State of Sleep Paralysis
- The Nature of Mayaic Delusion: Part 2
- The Nature of Mayaic Delusion: Part 3