तत् त्वं पूषन्नपावृणु सत्यधर्माय दृष्टयॆ ॥ १५ ॥
“Hiranmayena patrena satyasyapihitam mukham
Tat twam pushan apavrinu satya dharmaya dristaye”
I have intentionally started this article with this excerpt from “Isha” Upanishad. This prayer to the material sun is not a single directed appeal but to the veiling nature (Maya) of the whole existence. This plea of humankind is the first sign of a mind which has surpassed the material realm and striving to find the ultimate truth.
Through this prayer, we are asking the sun to unveil its dazzling cover and open the gateway and let us see the absolute truth.
Maya: The insight
This verse introduces the concept that something is shrouding reality from us which was represented by the sun but actually, it is more powerful, vast, and deceiving in nature. It has placed an invisible screen in front of our eyes to play a dance of illusion. We take birth, we struggle to survive and we die. This is the basic framework for all of us irrespective of caste, creed, beliefs, or social status.
But what is the relevance of this life then?
We all at some point in time ask this question to ourselves or to somebody we don’t recognize.
Quantum theory tells us that the whole universe is existing in the form of waves. It materializes when we see it. It takes the form of what we want to see. All this visible universe is an illusory dramatization of our minds. They call it the “Observer Effect”
Well, that may be true but there are some basic questions still lurking into our minds.
Who has created this magnificent universe with objects, colors, lights and so many other stuff in such innumerable variations? This process of creation is a loop that is constantly emerging from itself and purging the same with the passing of time. We are no exceptions as long as our bodies are concerned.
The road map
To answer that, we have to dive deep into the concepts of Upanishads. Though there are many Upanishads available, we shall consider ten among them as “Acharya Shankar” and written commentaries on them and classify them as the most important among all.
Upanishads, whether it “Isha” or “Mandukya”, “Katha” or “Chandogya” all raise their voice in one note which enunciates the “Oneness” of this creation and that we are not separated, we are the manifested truth, the existence-consciousness-bliss.
The “Brahman” or the pure consciousness never changes neither it divides or unites. It’s unique with absolute detachment from its creation. It contains nothing within itself; there is nothing outside its existence. It is beyond all limitations of languages and imagination. We cannot see it, hear it, know it or think of it. Description of “Brahman” can go on like this for eons but still, we shall always fall short in describing it.
We just said “absolute detachment from its creation”! But if it is the only existence then how does the concept of “creation” creep in?
The treasure hunt
Upanishad again provides us with the answer. Yes! The “Brahman” is the one and only pervading this existence and it is utterly undivided. The creation we see is the dreaming state of it and this dream of “Brahman” is termed as “Maya” or the matrix of illusion. Just as we dream and within the dream, we misjudge it with the world we see when we are awake (though both the state of perception is an illusion), we acknowledge the dreaming state of the “Absolute” as reality and thus fall into the trap of “Maya”.
To understand this concept, let us first discuss the definitions of truth and untruth. The state of existence which remains unchanged in all three periods of time (past, present, and future) is the truth.
Similarly when the state of existence changes with time is untrue. So this world along with our body is untrue because it changes with time. So this “Maya” must be untrue but we can touch and feel this world and perceive the cause and effect duo so it should be true. Ancient sages and thinkers debated a lot on this paradox and ultimately termed it “Anirvachaniya” or something which can’t be explained with words.
The identification or misidentification
“Maya” is the tool of creation with which the “Brahman” designed its dream. The dream gave rise to a supreme intellect. The main attribute of Intelligence is to dissect the objective existence and that’s what “Maya “does. It dissects its own creation to furnish similar objects and in due course dissects those again. So this world is multiplying with its individual changes.
“Maya” has two sets of tools with which it sustains the illusion and maintains the dreaming state.
“Avarana” The curtain and “Vikshepa” meaning distraction are the tools. With the help of “Avarana,” it covers the reality from us, and with the help of “Vikshepa”, it creates an illusion where the unreal seems real to us.
So “Maya” is the reason and this universe (“samsara”) is the result. As “Maya” gives birth to a new form of creation so this form of “Brahma Shakti” or absolute energy is attributed to feminine characters. We may defy its rules but to negate the bondage of “Maya” requires an awakened and analytical mind.
This is the reason, we strive to appease Mother Goddess (the feminine form of “Brahman”) so that she drives the curtain off and reveals the truth. At this very moment, the seer beholds his own existence as the absolute truth which plays the same role for all.
This is the pinnacle of “I awareness” or self-realization. There is nothing beyond it. Our eternal journey of birth and death finally concludes.