Maya Panchakam Retreat Summary
Swamini Svatmavidyanandaji
May 2020

by Zarina Kaji

Pranaams Swamiji for your brilliant exposition of Maya in these 5 verses of the Maya Panchakam, by Adi Guru Sri Shanksracharya.
The purpose of every human life is to know the Truth about the Self. This Self knowledge is as-though shrouded by the veil of Maya.

Then what is this Maya? Maya is the Shakti of Ishwara that makes the jagat, which is an as an extension and an endless manifestation of Ishwara as discrete and variegated. As the manifestation of Ishwara in the jagat, the knowledge and “Isness” belong to Ishwara and the name and form belong to Maya.

For the jiwa, Maya appears, as self ignorance, with the notion of bondage, as long as the jiwa is identified with the Upadhi of the limited body mind sense complex.
Maya thus paints the jagat with the three gunas, satva , rajas and tamas in varying degrees and makes everything and everyone unique .

The avarna shakti, the veiling power, of Maya is like a “mother that smothers” embracing us so tightly, thus covering the truth of the self and strengthening our identification with the body mind sense complex.
This identification can be removed through the study of Vedanta that removes self-ignorance and the hold of maya.

Maya also possesses the vikshepa shakti, the power to project the universe of names and forms.
On the individual level, this shakti is the the ability of subjective projection rising from the unconscious mind.
The jiwa has both avarna and vikshepa.
Ishwara has no avarna and the whole jagat is his projection, vikshepa.

The personality of the jiwa is made up of the 3 gunas.
Our progress is to raise ourselves from tamo guna to rajo guna to satva guna and then hang on to satva guna, satva being the very truth of ourselves.
Maya is non seperate from Bhagwan. It is the manifest and unmanifest cause of the universe, it is the “Isness” of everything.
By definition Maya is mithya, it does not have an independent existence nor can it be said not to exist. It’s existence is dependent on the Sat, consciousness.
So we can say that Maya is non-separate from Brahman, but Brahman is not Maya.
B=A but A is not =B.
Sat Chit and Anantam, consciousness, are the truth of me, the Atma.
I am the Atma which is the undivided, the Unchanging One without a second.
Because of self ignorance, Maya, concocts as though differences within the indivisible Atma,into jiwa, jagat and Ishwara.
Thus we fail to hear the harmony of Oneness in the cacophony of maya.
Under the spell of Maya, we identify with anatma and spin from lifetime to lifetime on the wheel of samsara.
Maya as the sorceress of self ignorance makes the impossible possible.
Because of this veil of self ignorance, Maya creates desires, kama, which lead to Karma, punya papa and karma phala, and then into this ocean of samsara, which is only a notion.
Because our swarupaH is sukham, unlimitedness., we all seek that naturally.
Any desire we have is only a superimposition on the Atma which has no desire.
How can there be a desire from one who is already purna?
As consciousness, I know I am and that is Self evident.
Contentment, hence is one of the first signs of a Gyani.
Maya thus is capable of as-though making Anantam Brahma appear as a miserable jiwa.
What a pity!
Through knowledge, this notion can be corrected as in a jiwan mukta.

In the light of Knowledge, which is cognitive, the jagat does not disappear for the gyani. He appreciates the jagat as a manifestation of Ishwara and can recognize the Oneness in the diversity.

Here are some of the highlights :
Be in satva guna as much as possible.
See everything and everyone everywhere as Ishwara. Once you do that, there is no more maya —there is only Ishwara.
Do not take things personally.
Forgive yourself for slipping at times, and do not fall prey to hurt, guilt and anxiety. Be kind to yourself.
All core issues in the subconscious may not have a solution, so lead a prayerful life and surrender to Ishwara.
Maya belongs to the vyavaharik Sat, the empirical reality and it can be unmasked by studying Vedanta.

With the proper understanding and assimilation of Vedanta, once this veil of Agyanam or Maya, is lifted, the Sat Chit Anantam Atma, can be clearly known as the one and only consciousness, the truth of everything.