Adi Shankaracharya

In Mayapanchakam, a work consisting of five stanzas, Sri Sankara brings out succinctly how Maya makes incompatibles appear together and shows how it brings about what appears logically to be impossible.

1. Maya, which is adept at making the impossible happen, superimposes on me (the Atman) who am in reality pure Consciousness, who am incomparable (because the Atman is the only reality and there is therefore nothing else with which it can be compared), who am eternal, partless, unlimited by space, time and other objects, in whom there is no differentiation whatsoever, the distinctions in the form of the world, God and the individual soul.
Note: The world, God and the individual soul appear to be different from one another only because of the limiting adjuncts. Intrinsically, there is neither difference nor identity among them, for all the three are in essence Pure Consciousness, homogeneous like a lump of salt. When the unconditioned Self has, as the limiting adjuncts, the body and organs which are characterized by ignorance, desire and action, it is called the transmigrating individual soul. When the limiting adjunct is the power of eternal and unlimited knowledge, which is Maya, the same Self is known as God, who is the antaryaamin or Inner Controller of the whole world. The same Self, free from all limiting adjuncts, is Brahman (Br.up.3.8.12, Sankarabhashya).

2. Maya, which is adept at making the impossible happen, makes even those who have mastered the Vedas and the Upanishads behave no better than four-legged animals by tempting them with wealth and possessions. What a pity!

3. Maya, which is adept at making the impossible happen, makes the Atman which is of the nature of Bliss and pure and infinite Consciousness and is without a second, identify itself with the body made up of the elements, namely, ether, air etc., and whirl intensely in the ocean of transmigratory existence.

4. Maya, which is adept at making the impossible happen, creates in the pure Bliss-Consciousness which is devoid of attributes such as caste, creed and the like, the notion of 'I'-ness, of looking upon oneself as a Brahmana, Vaisya, etc., as well as attachment to son, wife and home.

5. Alas! Maya, which is adept at making the impossible happen, creates in Brahman which is homogeneous, without any parts, distinctions such as Brahma, Vishnu and Siva and thereby perplexes even the learned by making them look upon Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva as different from one another.


nirupama nityaniramùake api akhaïde
mayi citi sarvavikalpanádiùünye
ghatayati jagadèùajèva bhedam
tvaghaûita gçaûanápaûiyasè máyá.(1)

Máyá which is skilful in accomplishing the impossible brings about the distinctions of the world. Èùvara, and jèva in my consciousness, which is unique and eternal, partless and impartite, and which is free from all distinctions. 


srutiùatanigamánta sodhakán
apyahaha dhanádinidarùanena sadyaç
kaluúayati catuúpadádyabhinnán
aghatitaghaûanápaûiyasè máyá.(2)

Máyá which is skilful in accomplishing the impossible deludes at once, alas, even those who can clarify hundreds of Veda and Vedánta texts by showing up wealth, etc. and makes them non-different from quadrupeds.


sukhacidakhaïãavibodhamadvitèyam
viyadaniládivinirmitau niyojya
bhramayati bhavaságare nitántam
tvaghaûitaghaûanápatiyasi máyá.(3)

Máyá which is skilful in accomplishing the impossible makes the Self, which is of the nature of bliss and consciousness which is impartite and non-dual, whirl round very much in the ocean of samsára by associating it with the created ákáùa, air etc.


apagataguïavarïa játibhede
sukhaciti vipraviãa dyahamkøtim ca
sphuûayati sutadáraqgehamoham
tvaghaûitaghaûanápaûèyasi máyá(4)

Máyá which is skilful in accomplishing the impossible causes the appearance of notions of ``I am a Bráhmin'', ``I am a Vaiùya'', etc., and the passion for son, wife and house in the bliss-consciousness which is free from the distinctions of quality, colour, and caste.


vidhiharihara vibhedámapyakhaïde
bata viracayya budhánapi prakámam
bhramnayati hariharavibhedabháván
aghaûitaghaûanápaûèyasè máyá.(5)

Máyá which is skilful in accomplishing the impossible deludes, alas, very much Harim Hara, and others, though wise, by introducing the distinctions of Brahmá, Hari and Hara in the unitary reality.


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