What is Maya?

Awakening begins with an inquiring mind. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) provides answers to spiritual inquiries such as: (1) What’s Maya? (2) How does Maya subjugate we mortals? (3) How can we mortals transcend the corrupting influence of Maya or temporal life?

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).
  • ਜੈਸੀ ਅਗਨਿ ਉਦਰ ਮਹਿ ਤੈਸੀ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ : As is the fire inside the womb, so is the Maya outside — corrupting influences of the worldly temptations. (sggs 921).

What’s Maya ?

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).

Then what is Maya? According to the SGGS, (1) whatever makes one forget his/her True Nature (Jot Saroop) or Mool (‘Hari Visrai‘); (2) whatever gives rise to emotional attachment (‘Moh Upjai‘); and (3) whatever gives rise to duality (‘Bhaau Doojaa‘, two-ness, double mindedness…) becomes Maya for that person.

In a nutshell, Maya is anything and everything which makes a person forget the Creator (Hukam) by creating attachment to the corrupting influences of the worldly temptations.

  • 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).
  • ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਗੁਬਾਰੁ ॥: Attachment to Maya (love for materialism) is the darkness of ignorance (in the journey of spiritual life). (sggs 1262).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਵਿਹੂਣੀਆ ਸੁੰਦਰਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਧ੍ਰੋਹੁ ॥ : O Nanak! without the Divine Naam (Wisdom / Virtues), one is deceived by captivating Maya — the worldly temptations and their corrupting influences. (sggs 707).

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’. Consequently, beings live in delusion or doubts (‘Bharam‘), false ego-sense (‘Haumai), darkness of ignorance, vices or Bikaar (i.e. lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride…).

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.), Mrig-Trishanaa 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, Haumai (false ego-sense) is also Maya. Haumai and its faults (vices/Bikaar) are responsible for the killing of one’s Original Nature (Jot Saroop), corruption of morals, the development of criminal behavior (‘Apraadh‘), suffering, bloody international conflicts etc. Thus, it is also called the invisible fire which is constantly fueled by vices/Bikaar. This hidden fire has consumed the world.

Haumai (false ego-sense) is innate to human life. It is Haumai and its faults (drives/instincts) (Kaam, Kroadh, Loabh, Moh, and Ahankar) that influence the psychology of the 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).

In reality, nobody can totally remove his/her false ego-sense (Haumai) and related faults. It defines our relationship with ourselves and our world, essentially providing meaning to the self to insure survival, success, protection, procreation etc. In fact it is responsible for all the progress/development of human society.

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).

Further, according to Baabaa Nanak, ‘Bharam‘ (doubt, delusion, wandering in doubt, ਭਰਮ ਭੁਲੇਖੇ etc.) is also Maya. 

  • ਬਾਬਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਇ ॥ : Baabaa, it is Maya (worldly temptations and their corrupting influences) that deceives mortals in ‘Bharam’ (delusion, doubt etc.). (sggs 60).

Furthermore, according to Baabaa Nanak, Maya is also invisible ‘fire’ (‘Agan-ਅਗਨ’ – worldly temptations and their corrupting influences), burning the entire world, and so on.

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਅਗਨਿ ਜਲੈ ਸੰਸਾਰੇ ॥: The world is burning in the fire of Maya (hunger or love of Maya…). (sggs 1049).

In a nutshell, Maya is a ocean (Bhav Saagar) of bad thoughts (ਵਿਚਾਰ) which makes us forget Godly Virtues (ਗੁਣ) — Truth (ਸਤ), honesty (ਇਮਾਨਦਾਰੀ), contentment (ਸੰਤੋਖ), mercy (ਦਯਾ), patience (ਧੀਰਜ), etc.

  • ਮਤਿ ਵਿਚਿ ਰਤਨ ਜਵਾਹਰ ਮਾਣਿਕ ਜੇ ਇਕ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸਿਖ ਸੁਣੀ ॥: The Internalization of (this) one Priceless Message of my Guru (i.e. Shabad) makes my spirituality Shabad Based (i.e. Virtues-ਗੁਣ, Wisdom). (sggs 2).

However, the self-serving Pujaaree clique tell us that ONLY money (or currency etc.) is Maya!

Not true at all! The Gurbani (SGGS) rejects that nonsensical definition of Maya.No household can live without money! Money is essential to meet basic and essential needs of life to survive.

In fact, according to the Gurbani, a freeloader (who does not work to earn his living, ਵੇਲੜ, ਮੰਗ ਖਾਣਾਂ…) cannot even engage in Bhagti or be a Bhagat! In other words, there can be no Gurmat Bhagti without ‘Kirat’ (ਕਿਰਤਿ) — honest work, labor, ਮਿਹਨਤ, etc.

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਕੀ ਕਿਰਤਿ ਛੋਡਿ ਗਵਾਈ ਭਗਤੀ ਸਾਰ ਨ ਜਾਨੈ ॥: (A freeloader – ਵੇਲੜ, ਮੰਗ ਖਾਣਾਂ – who) renounces to work or earn his livelihood while living in the midst of Maya, he cannot know what Bhagti is! (sggs 381).

As a matter of truth, anything or any bad thought (ਅਉਗੁਣ) that takes a person away from Godly Virtues, Wisdom, the Creator etc., is Maya (‘Hari Visrai‘). Such bad thought could be of money, power, education, spouse, children, business, wealth, property, pride of something, titles, social status, Jaat-Paat, selfishness, crookedness, jealousy, stubbornness, and so on.

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਮਮਤਾ ਤਨ ਤੇ ਭਾਗੀ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥: Attachment to Maya has run away from my body, since immaculate Wisdom has welled up (i.e. Awakened within). (sggs 1186).

How does Maya subjugate mortals?

Maya’s material nature (including all matter) is composed of three modes or ingredients called ‘Gunas‘ in Sanskrit. In English ‘Guna‘ can be called ‘quality’.

These three qualities or Gunas are Saatav, Raajas, Taamas (Sat, Raj, Tam or Sato, Rajo, Tamo). In English, these three modes can be called goodness, passion and ignorance etc., respectively.

  • ਇੰਦ੍ਰ ਪੁਰੀ ਮਹਿ ਸਰਪਰ ਮਰਣਾ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਪੁਰੀ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਨਹੀ ਰਹਣਾ ॥ ਸਿਵ ਪੁਰੀ ਕਾ ਹੋਇਗਾ ਕਾਲਾ ॥ ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਮਾਇਆ ਬਿਨਸਿ ਬਿਤਾਲਾ ॥੨॥: (What to speak of others places) even in (the so called) Indra Puri, death is sure. Even in (the so called) Brahma Puri cannot last forever. The (the so called) Shiva Puri will also perish. (In short the entire humanity) by straying from the Way of life under the influence of three modes of Maya (three thought-conditions) will perish one day. ||2|| (sggs 237).

These three qualities of Maya are like intertwined strands of the winding cord or rope of nature. These three qualities are inherent in the creation. Through these three qualities, Maya holds in bondage all embodied beings.

  • 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).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਅਉਗੁਣ ਜੇਤੜੇ ਤੇਤੇ ਗਲੀ ਜੰਜੀਰ ॥ ਜੇ ਗੁਣ ਹੋਨਿ ਤ ਕਟੀਅਨਿ ਸੇ ਭਾਈ ਸੇ ਵੀਰ ॥ : O Nanak! As many as are the demerits (Bikaar…), so many are the chains (bonds, Bandhan…) around (one’s) neck. If (one) possesses the Divine Virtues, then the chains are cut away; (hence Virtues) are (one’s) true brothers and mates. (sggs 595).
  • ਮਦਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਕੈ ਭਇਓ ਬਾਵਰੋ ਸੂਝਤ ਨਹ ਕਛੁ ਗਿਆਨਾ ॥ : (Mind) intoxicated with Maya, does not understand even a bit of Giaan (Knowledge, Wisdom, ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਦੀ ਸਮਝ…). (sggs 632).

To Awaken the Wisdom in us (Brahm-Giyan), the Gurbani compares the world appearance to a mirage, which appears to be real to a deluded mind (mirage, ‘that which is not’…). This mirage (‘ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ’…) analogy appears time and again in the Gurbani.

  • ਮਾਧਵੇ ਕਿਆ ਕਹੀਐ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਐਸਾ ॥ ਜੈਸਾ ਮਾਨੀਐ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਤੈਸਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : O God, what can we say, we are so deluded by doubt, that what we believe, the reality is not like that. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 657).
  • ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਜਿਉ ਜਗ ਰਚਨਾ ਯਹ ਦੇਖਹੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਬਿਚਾਰਿ ॥: Reflect in your mind and see for yourself that this world play is like the thirst of the deer – mistaken for water, who runs towards the mirage in the desert (humans tempted by the world-play also run after it). (sggs 536).

Without Wisdom or Virtues, our minds become Maya’s ‘Muhtaaj-ਮੁਹਤਾਜੁ’ (slave, necessitous, needy, ਅਧੀਨ, ਖੁਸ਼ਾਮਦੀ…).

  • ਅੰਤਰ ਆਤਮੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਨ ਚੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਿਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਮੁਹਤਾਜੁ ਭਇਆ ॥੭॥: ||7||: Within Antar Aatamaa (ਅੰਤਰ ਆਤਮਾ, innermost self), you do not recognize Brahm; (consequently) you become slave of Maya. ||7|| (sggs 435).

The Gurbani on transcending Maya’s corrupting influences

Transcending is going beyond. In spiritual sense, it is BecomingAwakened, Realized within.

  • ਮੁਈ ਮੇਰੀ ਮਾਈ ਹਉ ਖਰਾ ਸੁਖਾਲਾ ॥ : Maya (i.e. the corrupting influence of the world) has no more the slightest corrupting influence on my (mind) and that has made my (mind) truly peaceful (happy, at ease etc.). (sggs 476).

The Gurbani (SGGS) ushers us from Bhav Saagar into Sukh Saagar.

  • ਸੁਖ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਇ ॥: Hari Naam is the Sukh Saagar; it is obtained by becoming the Gurmukh. (sggs 29).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਅਲਿਪਤੁ ਲੇਪੁ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਲਾਗੈ ਸਦਾ ਰਹੈ ਸਰਣਾਈ ॥: A person who becomes the Gurmukh remains free from the shackles of Maya (i.e. remain unaffected by Maya) because he takes refuse in (Hukam: System-Rule-Law of Nature). (sggs 1344).

Human mind remains occupied by the mixture of the three modes of the material nature. According to the predominance of one of these three modes of material nature acquired by our mind, one’s temperament and can be considered as Saatavic, Raajasic, or Taamasic. Furthermore, depending on the predominance of the three thought-conditions (i.e. Taamas, Raajas, Saatav), one’s understanding can also be considered as Saatavic, Raajasic, or Taamasic.

Shabad, when read or heard, will form a unique image in the mind of the listener or reader depending on the predominance of these three thought-conditions. Unique because – depending on the predominance of the three thought-conditions – each individual (Jeev) has his or her own perspective on everything, which exist within the reality they have created for themselves. For example take the word ‘god‘, it will form a different image in each individual’s mind.

In other words, these are the three thought-conditions (i.e. Taamas, Raajas, Saatav), under which the human mind functions.

  • ਤਿਹੀ ਗੁਣੀ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਭ੍ਰਮਿ ਸੁਤਾ ਸੁਤਿਆ ਰੈਣਿ ਵਿਹਾਣੀ ॥ : The entire world is engrossed in three modes of Maya (i.e. three thought-conditions: Taamas, Raajas, Saatav), consequently worldly people pass their life sleeping in delusion. (sggs 920).
  • ਤੀਨਿ ਨਦੀ ਤਹ ਤ੍ਰਿਕੁਟੀ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਅਹਿਨਿਸਿ ਕਸਮਲ ਧੋਵਹਿ ਨਾਹਿ ॥੫॥: (Those who give up living life by Virtues or Wisdom, and instead continue living in Mayaic consciousness) they remain (immersed or deceived) in ‘Trikuti‘ (i.e. ‘confluence of the three’ rivers of Maya’s three-qualities: Rajo, Tamo, Sato); they transgress day and night; (since they remain devoid of Virtuous life) they do not cleanse their act or thinking. ||5|| (sggs 344).

Aptly, the SGGS asks us to transcend or go beyond these three thought-conditions.

  • ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਚਉਥਾ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਇ ॥: The three qualitied Maya’s attachment is (prevalent in the world). A person who becomes the Gurmukh realizes the Fourth State (i.e. the state that transcends hunger for Maya). (sggs 30).
  • ਤੀਨਿ ਬਿਆਪਹਿ ਜਗਤ ਕਉ ਤੁਰੀਆ ਪਾਵੈ ਕੋਇ ॥: The world is in the grip of the three (qualities of Maya); only a few realize the Turiyaa Avasthaa (i.e. Fourth State of Consciousness beyond hunger for Maya, Mool-Abidance etc.) (sggs 297).
  • ਸਤਗੁਰਿ ਮਿਲਿਐ ਤ੍ਰਿਕੁਟੀ ਛੂਟੈ ਚਉਥੈ ਪਦਿ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਦੁਆਰੁ ॥੨॥: With the Satgur (True Wisdom- ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ), traps of the three qualities (of Maya) are cut away; and the Fourth State, the ‘Door’ of Liberation, is realized. ||2|| (sggs 33).
  • ਰਜ ਗੁਣ ਤਮ ਗੁਣ ਸਤ ਗੁਣ ਕਹੀਐ ਇਹ ਤੇਰੀ ਸਭ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਚਉਥੇ ਪਦ ਕਉ ਜੋ ਨਰੁ ਚੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਹੀ ਪਰਮ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੨॥: Some beings are in Rajo Gun, some are in Tamo Gun, some are in Sato Gun. (O man!) This is all your (individual) Maya. (Beyond these) the man who realizes the Fourth State (i.e. Turiya Avasthaa: Mool-Abidance); he alone realizes the highest spiritual state (ਉੱਚੀ ਆਤਮਕ ਅਵਸਥਾ). ||2|| (sggs 1123).

In addition to these three qualities (modes) of Maya, the SGGS also talks about a few more aspects of Maya. For example:

  • Maya as the Suhaagan-daughter of the misers.
  • Maya as the wife of the worldly people (i.e. Mamnmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree…).
  • Maya as the slave of ‘Saadhoo’ (Bhagat, Daas, Jan, Gurmukh…).
  • Maya as a very beautiful bride, and so on.

In this context, consider, the following Shabad:

  • ਸੋਹਾਗਨਿ ਕਿਰਪਨ ਕੀ ਪੂਤੀ ॥ ਸੇਵਕ ਤਜਿ ਜਗਤ ਸਿਉ ਸੂਤੀ ॥ ਸਾਧੂ ਕੈ ਠਾਢੀ ਦਰਬਾਰਿ॥ ਸਰਨਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਨਿਸਤਾਰਿ ॥੨॥ ਸੋਹਾਗਨਿ ਹੈ ਅਤਿ ਸੁੰਦਰੀ ॥ ਪਗ ਨੇਵਰ ਛਨਕ ਛਨਹਰੀ ॥ ਜਉ ਲਗੁ ਪ੍ਰਾਨ ਤਊ ਲਗੁ ਸੰਗੇ ॥ ਨਾਹਿ ਤ ਚਲੀ ਬੇਗਿ ਉਠਿ ਨੰਗੇ ॥੩॥ : Maya is the ‘Suhaagan’-daughter of the misers (i.e. misers keep amassing it, but do not use it). Except for the divine’s Sevak or those who live by Hukam (Bhagat, Daas, Jan, Gurmukh…), she loves the materially- oriented (i.e. Maya sleeps with theme as a wife — she has brought the materially oriented people unnder her control). Standing at the door of the ‘Saadhoo (Bhagat, Daas, Jan, Gurmukh…), Maya shouts, ‘I have come to your shelter; save me!’ (i.e. ‘Saadhoo‘ beings keep Maya or temptations under their control). ||2|| Like a very beautiful bride, Maya is very attractive. It entices like a dancer with bell-anklets on her feet making the sound to attract. As long as a person is alive, Maya (or temptation) remains with him. (As soon as life ends) Maya also leaves immediately barefoot (i.e. all temptations end with end of life). ||3|| (sggs 872).

According to the Gurbani, the arduous ocean of this Maya can be swum across with the help of Naam (Wisdom/ Virtues…):

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਮਾਰਣੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਇ ॥੨॥ : Nanak, the antidote of Maya is the Shabad, which is realized by internalizing its Message – becoming the Gurmukh (Enlightened mind). ||2|| (sggs 853).).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਮਾਰਣੁ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਇ ॥੧॥: Naam (Wisdom, Virtue, Truth…) is an antidote to Maya and through the Guru, which is obtained or realized by becoming the Gurmukh. (sggs 513).
  • ਜਲਤ ਅਨਿਕ ਤਰੰਗ ਮਾਇਆ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ ਹਰਿ ਰਿਦ ਮੰਤ ॥: Maya’s (worldliness) Countless waves are burnt away, when the Divine Wisdom is enshrined in the heart, through the ‘Mant’ (the Gurbani’s Upadesh, Wisdom or Giaan). (sggs 508).

Hence, a Gurmukh Lifestyle (Enlightened or Guru Shabad-Oriented mindset) guided by the light of the ‘Shabadis the ultimate medicine.

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਲਹਰਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਨਿਵਾਰੀ ॥: Deter the waves of Maya with Shabad (sggs 1049).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਤਾ ਕੈ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਨ ਮਾਏ ॥੭॥: O Nanak! (Who is united with Truth) Maya does not even come near that person. ||7|| (sggs 251).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਭੇਟਿਐ ਪੂਰੀ ਹੋਵੈ ਜੁਗਤਿ ॥ ਹਸੰਦਿਆ ਖੇਲੰਦਿਆ ਪੈਨੰਦਿਆ ਖਾਵੰਦਿਆ ਵਿਚੇ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ॥: O Nanak! Meeting the Satigur (ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ) then one learns the perfect Way to live life. (Thus following that) he is liberated while laughing, playing, dressing and eating (i.e. one remains free from worldly temptations and their corrupting influence while living in the world). (sggs 522).

During ‘Sidh Gosat’ Bani, Sidhas asked Baabaa Nanak to discourse on the following:

  • ਕਿਉ ਕਰਿ ਬਾਧਾ ਸਰਪਨਿ ਖਾਧਾ ॥ ਕਿਉ ਕਰਿ ਖੋਇਆ ਕਿਉ ਕਰਿ ਲਾਧਾ ॥ ਕਿਉ ਕਰਿ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਕਿਉ ਕਰਿ ਅੰਧਿਆਰਾ ॥ ਇਹੁ ਤਤੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੈ ਸੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਹਮਾਰਾ ॥੧੪॥ : Why are we (still) attached (consumed) to the entanglement of the material world or Maya (that we have already renounced)? Why have we not found (Realization, that you have found in your Realization), how can rediscover it? How can we eliminate (the remnants of) attachment to the material world, and why is our chosen path unenlightened? We will accept you as our Guru if you can discourse the Essence / truth of the above-mentioned matters. ॥14॥ (sggs 939).

Baabaa Nanak discoursed these questions of Sidhas as follows:

  • ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਬਾਧਾ ਸਰਪਨਿ ਖਾਧਾ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਖੋਇਆ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਲਾਧਾ ॥ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਅੰਧੇਰਾ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੇਟਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੧੫॥ ਸੁੰਨ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਦੀਜੈ ਬੰਧੁ ॥ ਉਡੈ ਨ ਹੰਸਾ ਪੜੈ ਨ ਕੰਧੁ ॥ ਸਹਜ ਗੁਫਾ ਘਰੁ ਜਾਣੈ ਸਾਚਾ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾਚੇ ਭਾਵੈ ਸਾਚਾ ॥੧੬॥ : Rejecting Gurmat (Durmat = opposite of Gurmat) causes attachment of / entanglement in the material world or Maya, (even after physical renouncement). Rejecting the Shabad (Manmukh-hood) is the cause of not finding (Realization), adopting the Shabad (Gurmukh-hood) is the Way to rediscover it. The Enlightenment within the Shabad (ਸਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ) will eliminate (darkness of) attachment to material world. Nanak’s discourse is that (the Essence of Godly Realization) is to subsume the self (i.e. subsume Haumai mind within the Shabad). ॥15॥ (My Realization of) the Creator WITHIN provided support (in the path of Maya, for the self to be subsumed). The mind stops wandering (for Maya) and physical suffering is resolved. (Because) my mind is the Natural Abode (Sahaj – Natural State of Being) for the Realized Creator. Nanak, my God-realized sate (of subsuming the self – mind) is obtained by loving the Creator WITHIN. ॥16॥(sggs 939).

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  1. Thanks for the reply Sunny. And welcome to the Gurbani blog

    i do not believe in god from beginning

    What kind of a god is it, that you don’t believe in from beginning?

  2. My name is sunny. Why i always feel empty inside me . Even i have everything sometimes i feel about to cry but for what. I feel sadness inside my soul and i do not believe in god from beginning.

  3. ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹ ਭੂਲੋ ਅਵਰੈ ਹੀਤ ॥ (sggs 673).
    ਮਾਤ ਪਿਤਾ ਸੁਤ ਨੇਹੁ ਘਨੇਰਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਸਬਾਈ ॥ (sggs 75).
    ਜੋ ਦੀਸੈ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹ ਕੁਟੰਬੁ ਸਭੁ ਮਤ ਤਿਸ ਕੀ ਆਸ ਲਗਿ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਈ ॥ (sggs 859).
    ਮਾਇਆ ਹੋਈ ਨਾਗਨੀ ਜਗਤਿ ਰਹੀ ਲਪਟਾਇ ॥ ਇਸ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਜੋ ਕਰੇ ਤਿਸ ਹੀ ਕਉ ਫਿਰਿ ਖਾਇ ॥ (sggs 510).
    ਤਜਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਅਰੁ ਲਾਲਚੁ ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਕੀ ਬ੍ਰਿਥਾ ਗਈ ॥ (sggs 1402).
    ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਚਉਥਾ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਇ ॥ (sggs 30).

  4. SSA.

    I have always wondered what exactly is Maya and how can we differentiate between love and emotional attachments.
    If you can kindly go over the following scenario:
    We are very close to our friends but very soon we will be leaving the city and migrating to another country as our family lives in that country.
    I feel a lot for our friends as they will really be missing us and even we will be missing them but on the other hand we do not have a choice but to move.
    How exactly one should feel when leaving friends? Is it alright to feel sad and miss them? or is it Maya to be emotionally attached to them.
    Thanks and looking forward to your reply.

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