Māyā - the deluding power of God

Nava Durga : Nine Form of Durga Maa
Nava Durga : Nine Form of Durga Maa
The vedic texts explain Māyā (illusion) as being the energy of Lord Krishna, appearing two-fold as Yogamāyā and Mahamāyā. The Lord’s potency acts in both the spiritual and material worlds. In the spiritual world the Lord’s potency works as Yogamāyā, and in the material world the same potency works as Mahāmāyā.

Mahamāyā controlls Prakriti or material nature and acts as the deluding power of the lord, putting all living entities in illusion. Maha-Maya therefore causes ignorance and through ignorance perpetuates the notion of duality, which is responsible for our bondage upon earth. It conceals our true nature and makes us wrongly believe that we are mere physical and mental beings. Through its powerful pull, it draws us forcefully into the subjective reality of this mundane world in which we live, binding us to worldly things and events through our thoughts and desires.

Māyā causes delusion in many ways. Under the influence of Maya an individual loses his intelligence and power of discrimination. He forgets his true nature. He loses contact with his true inner self and believes that he is the physical self with a mind and body that are subject to constant change, instability, and birth and death. In that delusion, he believes that he is doer of his actions, that he is responsible for his actions, that he is alone and independent, that he cannot live with or without certain things and so on, where as in truth he is an aspect of God, who has concealed himself, who is actually the real doer, and for whose experience all this has been created. Because of his ignorant thinking, he develops attachment with worldly objects and wants to possess them. He spends his life in the pursuit of unworthy objectives in the world considering them to be imperative for his success, survival, happiness and personal pride.

When we know that maya is the power that binds us and deludes us, we become aware of the extent of her actual influence and role in our lives. Out of this awareness comes a sense of caution and discriminating, which ultimately leads to Yoga-Maya, who helps and frees us from material ignorance. But till we reach that stage, we remain in the grip of Maha-Maya, like fish, caught helplessly in a net of material entanglement.

When the living entity puts himself under the direction of yogamāyā instead of mahāmāyā, he gradually becomes a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Yet those who are after material opulence and material happiness place themselves under the care of the material energy, mahāmāyā.

Yogamāyā means the mercy of the Supreme Lord, which connects a devotee in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, and Mahamāyā means the external potency of the Lord which puts a conditioned soul into illusion that he will be happy by material adjustment.

Prabhupāda: Yogamāyā? Yogamāyā means that which connects you. Yoga means connection. When you are being gradually advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, that is the action of yogamāyā. And when you are gradually forgetting Kṛṣṇa, that is the action of mahāmāyā. Māyā is acting upon you. The one is dragging you, and one is pushing you opposite way. Yogamāyā. So, just like the example, that you are always under the laws of government. You cannot deny. If you say, "I don't agree to abide by the laws of government," that is not possible. But when you are a criminal, you are under the police laws, and when you are gentleman, you are under the civil laws. The laws are there. In any situation, you have to obey the laws of government. If you remain as a civilized citizen, then you are always protected by the civil law. But as soon as you are against the state, the criminal law will act upon you. So the criminal activities of law is mahāmāyā, threefold miseries, always. Always putting in some sort of misery. And the civil department of Kṛṣṇa, ānandāmbudhi-vardhanam. You simply go on increasing the, I mean to say, depth of the ocean of joy. Ānandambudhi-vardhanam. That is the difference, yogamāyā and mahāmāyā. Yogamāyā is... Yogamāyā, the original yogamāyā, is Kṛṣṇa's internal potency. That is Rādhārāṇī. [Prabhupada Lecture -- Seattle, October 18, 1968]

Kṛṣṇa ordered the appearance of His Yogamāyā, or His internal potency. This Yogamāyā is the principal potency of the Personality of Godhead. In the Vedas it is stated that the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has multipotencies. Parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate. All the different potencies are acting externally and internally, and Yogamāyā is the chief of all potencies. He ordered the appearance of Yogamāyā in the land of Vrajabhūmi, in Vṛndāvana, which is always decorated and full with beautiful cows. In Vṛndāvana, Rohiṇī, one of the wives of Vasudeva, was residing at the house of King Nanda and Queen Yaśodā.

The Lord thus informed Yogamāyā: "Under the imprisonment of Kaṁsa are Devakī and Vasudeva, and at the present moment, My plenary expansion, Śeṣa, is within the womb of Devakī. You can arrange the transfer of Śeṣa from the womb of Devakī to the womb of Rohiṇī. After this arrangement, I am personally going to appear in the womb of Devakī with My full potencies. Then I shall appear as the son of Devakī and Vasudeva. And you shall appear as the daughter of Nanda and Yaśodā in Vṛndāvana.

"Since you will appear as My contemporary sister, people within the world will worship you with all kinds of valuable presentations: incense, candles, flowers and offerings of sacrifice. You shall quickly satisfy their desires for sense gratificiation. People who are after materialistic affection will worship you under the different forms of your expansions, which will be named Durgā, Bhadrakālī, Vijayā, Vaiṣṇavī, Kumudā, Caṇḍikā, Kṛṣṇā, Mādhavī, Kanyakā, Māyā, Nārāyaṇī, Īśānī, Śāradā and Ambikā."

Kṛṣṇa and Yogamāyā appeared as brother and sister--the Supreme Powerful and the supreme power. Although there is no clear distinction between the Powerful and the power, power is always subordinate to the Powerful. Those who are materialistic are worshipers of the power, but those who are transcendentalists are worshipers of the Powerful. Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Powerful, and Durgā is the supreme power within the material world. Actually people in the Vedic culture worship both the Powerful and the power. There are many hundreds of thousands of temples of Viṣṇu and Devī, and sometimes they are worshiped simultaneously. The worshiper of the power, Durgā, or the external energy of Kṛṣṇa, may achieve all kinds of material success very easily, but anyone who wants to be elevated transcendentally must engage in worshiping the Powerful in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. When Yogamāyā was thus ordered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, she circumambulated the Lord and then appeared within this material world according to His order. [Krishna Book 1-2]

The Lord comes to this material world through the agency of His internal potency, and similarly, when a devotee or associate of the Lord descends to this material world, he does so through the action of the spiritual energy. Any pastime conducted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead is an arrangement by yogamāyā, not mahāmāyā.


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