WHAT IS MAYA?

What is maya?

Below is a story to illustrate just that:

Once Narada the celestial sage and ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu asked him,

“Lord, what is maya?”

Lord Vishnu said, “I’ll explain to you what maya is, but first fetch me some water as I am really thirsty.”

At a distance there was a village and Narada left at once. As he collected water from the river, he saw a beautiful woman. Narada felt attracted to her and asked the bashful girl to marry him.

After receiving her father’s blessing the two got married. Over time they had children and Narada inherited his father-in-laws property, land, cattle etc. Narada seemed very happy in his family life and they happily continued to live their life.

One day there was a terrible rainstorm. It wouldn’t stop pouring and the river overflowed its banks flooding the village. Homes and people were swept away. In an effort to escape, Narada held on to his wife with one hand and his older son with another. He placed his younger child over his shoulders. But the current proved to be too strong and swept away one of his children. In an attempt to save one child, he lost his grasp over his wife and second child. As they all got carried away by the flood, out of desperation he wailed and lamented, “Lord help me!”

All of a sudden he found himself scooped up and a gentle voice behind him say,

” Child, Where is my water? You’ve been gone for half an hour.”

Narada was confused. Where was his village? His wife? His children? Half an hour? It had been 12 years.

“You have always had theoretical knowledge of maya, but never really experienced it” said Lord Vishnu. Despite that knowledge you got pulled into this material world. Such is the power of maya.  The moment you experienced it you got caught up in it. It became your reality.”

Living in this world of maya is akin to being in a dream. Sometimes we wake up from a scary dream that felt very real but the moment we awake from it, we are extremely relieved as we realize it was only a dream.

Maya or illusion is similar to that. The world we live in is maya but feels very real to us because of the play of the gunas (qualities) of satva, rajas and tamas. When the mind gets dragged by the sense organs into the material world, there is an imbalance created in the three gunas. As the mind runs outwards, it wanders farther and farther away from its divine nature and  gets caught up in the play of life.

One wakes up from this maya when they turn their mind inwards through control of the mind (chittasamyam) and practice of yoga. As the mind becomes free from agitation, the three gunas enter into a state of perfect balance and the being comes to realize their divinity.  Everything at once becomes clear. Reality reveals itself and as it does, the world of maya that we believe to be our reality blurs away into the background and one sees it for what it truly is-unreal; that we are all nothing but hamsters in a wheel, believing that we are actually getting somewhere but really never getting anywhere.

If the  mind is agitated because of the constant assault by emotions, this world of maya will continue to feel real. One continues to experience momentary pleasure, interrupted by long phases of sorrow and suffering.

If the mind is free from agitation, the being will experience divine bliss and be free from worldly sorrows and suffering even while living in it.

Mind is the root cause of suffering for one who is controlled by it. But mind is also the liberator for one who can control it.

The Deluge: Drawing Parallels in Mythology

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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Comparative mythology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah%27s_Ark) under Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0

In one of our ancient scriptures called Matsya Purana (Matsya means fish) there is a story about how Manu (the son of the Sun God) saved Earth upon the instructions of Lord Vishnu.  Lord Vishnu came to him in the avataar of a fish and told him that soon the entire world would be flooded. He asked him to build a ship and instructed to place all living beings on the boat to save them during the deluge guided by the fish avatar. Once the waters receded he would populate the earth. Sound familiar?

Similar flood stories have been found in religious text of other cultures.

Matsya Vishnu Ravi Varma Press

Matsya Vishnu Ravi Varma Press

Resource: Comparative mythology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah%27s_Ark)

Main article: Flood myth

“The Genesis flood narrative is one of several similar flood myths. The earliest known written flood myth is the Sumerian flood myth found in the Epic of Ziusudra.[2] Later and very similar Mesopotamian flood stories appear in the Epic of Atrahasis and Epic of Gilgamesh texts. Many scholars believe that Noah and the biblical flood-story derive from the Mesopotamian versions, predominantly because biblical mythology that is today found in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Mandeanism shares overlapping consistency with far older written Mesopotamian stories of the Great Flood, and because the early Hebrews were known to have lived in Mesopotamia,[14] particularly during the Babylonian captivity.

The parallels – both similarities and differences – between Noah’s ship and that of the Babylonian flood-hero Atrahasis have often been noted. Noah’s ship is a rectangle, while Atrahasis was instructed to build his in the form of a cube; Atrahasis’s ship has seven decks with nine compartments on each level, while Noah’s has three decks, but he is not given any instructions on the number of compartments to build.[15] The word used for “pitch” (sealing tar or resin) is not the normal Hebrew word but is closely related to the word used in the Babylonian story.[16]

The causes for God/gods having sent the flood also differ: in the Hebrew narrative the flood comes as God’s judgment on a wicked humanity; in the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh the reasons are not given and the flood appears to be the result of the caprice of the gods;[17] whereas in the Atrahasis version of the Babylonian flood story the flood was sent by the gods to reduce human over-population, and after the flood other measures were introduced to prevent the problem recurring.”

One of the Best Panacea for Problems and Suffering in Kaliyug-as per Hindu Scriptures

vishnuWhen the Vishnu Sahsranam is chanted with intense devotion, it produces 72,000 vibrations or sound currents. 72,000 nerve currents or nadis or psychic channels exist in the human body/energy body. Hence nadi shuddi or purification of the nadis can be accomplished by chanting the thousand names of Lord Vishnu which is contained in the Vishnu Sahsranam.

In Hinduism, it is considered the best panacea for problems and suffering in Kaliyug. The Vishnu Sahrsranam was chanted by rishis in ancient times. Hence when you recite, it helps connect with the wavelength of these rishis who chanted it thousands of years ago.

Every name has 100 meanings or attributes of Lord Vishnu.

What are the fruits acquired by daily chanting of the 1000 names of Vishnu?

According to Bhishma:

Nothing inauspicious will befall one who listens or recites it daily. One attains knowledge, wealth, victory and happiness. Dharma, wealth, pleasures are his. One who wakes up in the morning and purifies himself by bathing and with a clean heart full of devotion chants or listens to the 1000 names of Vishnu will acquire, name, fame, wealth, well-being. He will be fearless and free from all illness and will be blessed with vigor and beauty. Those seeking to be free of illness and disease will be blessed with good health. One in bondage will be freed. One who is consumed by fear and trouble and turmoil will be freed from it all. The person who recites the names will be released from all troubles very soon.  Chanting helps absolve one of all sins and person gets liberation from sorrows and bondage and never suffers from old age, fear death and birth (gets mokhsha).

How can one chant daily the 1000 names of Lord Vishnu without fail?

Goddess Parvati asked Lord Maheshwar the same question. How can one chant the 1000 names? Is there a quick and easy method?

Lord Shiva responds by saying: Chanting the name of Lord Shri Ram is equivalent to the chanting of the 1000 names of Lord Vishnu.

Lord Vishnu says to Arjuna: Those desirous of singing my praise by chanting my 1000 names should know without any doubt that I would be satisfied by their singing of even one stanza.  One who is ill, sad, worried, and afraid or has heard bad tidings, will be taken care of by just repetition of Narayan Narayana.

The Vishnu Sahasranam was written by Sage Ved Vyas. It was narrated to King Yudhishter by Bhishma when King Yudhister asked Bhishma- “What is the best way a person can attain auspiciousness and be freed from the cycle of birth and death?”

Bhishma said that a person can be freed from all sorrow and suffering by chanting the 1000 names of Vishnu.

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