Q54. What is Maya?
Sikhism does not accept the conventional meaning of Maya-as illusion. The world is not Maya; it is a creation of God and as such, an abode of the Truthful One, or rather a Temple of Divinity. According to Sikhism Maya epitomises the principle duality. It is this duality which makes one forget the Lord and attracts the man to wealth, beauty, power, or scholarship.
The root of Maya is egoism, the assertion of the self. It is this which separates a man from his divine self. By such fetters, man binds himself to his family and to worldly possessions. Maya is a trap for the soul.
Maya may also take on a more subtle form as self-importance or self-complacency. It may form different patterns like intellectual pride, family attachement, pleasure-seeking and money-grabbing. It plays an important part in daily life.
The Guru by his grace gives the antidote for Maya. It is “The Name” of God, which works the spell. With it Maya is brought under control and so no longer haresses the disciple.
The residue of Maya accumulates through many births. It sticks to the individual like glue. It produces an inbuilt sense of isolation which causes man to forget his own divine essence. The individual’s soul will realize, sooner or later, that a Supreme soul lives within. This becomes a spiritual awakening which will secure liberation from passion and desire. This liberation comes through self-control and the practice of virtuous living. It is the association with the Guru and the company of holy men that facilitates this realization of man’s divine origin.
The evil effects of ‘Maya’ take longer to eradicate. Along with self-effort, the Guru grace is necessary. Guru Nanak says: “The true Guru has revealed the One to me. I have destroyed duality and can now recognize Him, through the Guru’s word”. Between man and God is a wall of ignorance, once this is removed, man may realize his kinship with Divinity.