Bhagavad Gita Chapter 15 Verse 5 | What is Maya in Bhagavad Gita and Bhagvatham

Who controls intelligence when ignorance rules?

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 15 Verse 5

Free from Vanity and Delusion, victorious over the evil of attachment, dwelling constantly in the self or God, with desires completely stilled, liberated from the dualities, namely pleasure and pain, such highly placed undeluded strivers reach the Eternal Goal.

The Problem of getting identified

It is important to understand Verse 5 of Chapter 15 of the Bhagavad Gita from both a worldly view as well as from a spiritual standpoint. As soon as a living entity comes to the world, he starts identifying himself with everything around him right from his very childhood. He gets identified with his name given to him by parents and also with his form in the mirror. This is the beginning of Maya in his life. This identification increases in degree and variety as he starts to age. Thus he distances himself from his essential nature which animates him, the spirit.

The Process of Disengagement

A devotee on the other hand is an individual who has undergone a severe reversal as compared to the common man. The devotee disengages himself from earlier identifications which he acquires during the course of his lifetime. It is not possible for one to let go of one’s identification through a simple decision. This process of disengagement is the subject matter of sadhana or Bhakti. In the course of spiritual discipline, the devotee trains to attach himself with the Supreme Spirit and through this process learns to disengage from worldly entities. This process is not easy as it seems to be. The devotee has to first realize within his heart that other than the Supreme Spirit nothing belongs to him and he deserves nothing of this world. This view is not a psychological suggestion that he gives to himself, achieved through autosuggestion or any other western practices.

Free from the Psychological Games

The western practices are outright rejected, since spirituality does not fall under the purview of psychology or mental speculation. A person considered adept in psychology can never understand topics directly related to spirit. Only through sadhana, a person becomes eligible for grace. Once grace is attained, he graduates out of the psychological games that the world plays. Once one is placed in the field of perfect spiritual knowledge, free from any psychological inducements, the individual develops one-pointedness towards the Supreme Being, the source of creation. An individual who dedicates himself to God becomes utterly disinclined towards the world and worldly activities which are mere manipulations of the psychological phenomenon.

What is devotion

Once an individual becomes disinclined towards the world, he becomes interested only to God, to the exclusion of all other interests. Attachment to God is called Rati and the dispassion to the world resulting thereby is called Vairagya. By taking refuge under God, the individual becomes free of all materialistic emotions because what existed as materialistic emotions get transformed into Love for God or Bhakti. This is devotion. Objective of devotion is to become immersed in God by serving Him through thought, word and deed. Remembering the Lord at all times is the hall mark of cultivated devotion.

Relief from the world of me and mine

Only when devotion grows in the heart can attachment to the body be severed. All worldly actions are born out of the fundamental misunderstanding that the body and mind is the Self. When this misunderstanding is defeated, the living entity is awakened to the original Self. All desires relating to the world then, comes to an end and the world loses all attraction.

Nature of desires

The mind belongs to the world when it is not purified. The world is transient and so is the mind. Just as newer things start cropping up in the world and older things start to vanish, the mind too starts nurturing desires. With time the mind starts clinging from one desire to another like a dissatisfied monkey. The body ages and starts becoming weak but the mind continues its madness like a busy ghost and never lets peace descend on the heart. This is the nature of desires. Even if an object is attained by the mind, it is unable to enjoy the same object for a long time. The interest levels fall and the mind looks for a change. This endless process keeps the mind in constant agitation. The more one tries to satisfy desire, the more, the mind shall continue agitation. Trying to satisfy desire is like trying to extinguish the fire with clarified butter. So a striver has to become conscious of the mind’s workings and pull away those things which the mind desires and instead cultivate the habit of desiring the Lord. Except the Lord, nothing else has the capacity to put the mind to rest.

King Nimi and the fire sacrifice supervisors

In the Srimad Bhagavatham Canto Eleven, Discourse three, the reasons for getting attached to desires is discussed in detail from the viewpoint of Maya, the deluding potency of the Supreme Being. In the course of a conversation between King Nimi and supervisors of a fire sacrifice that was carried out on King Nimi’s behalf, there arose a conversation on the nature of Maya. King Nimi desired to know about Maya from the adepts of the fire sacrifice, who also happened to be the knowers of the highest Truth. King Nimi was himself an enlightened being. He asked this question on behalf of the living entities of Kali Yuga who suffer the pangs of Maya without relief.

Nature of Maya and mundane life

One of the fire sacrifice supervisors by the name Antariksha gave a thorough understanding about Maya. The Supreme Being split Himself into the mind and the ten senses which include five senses of Knowledge and five senses of Action. These eleven components are said to be the body of Maya. The living entity or Jiva is then made to enjoy and suffer through these eleven components, the products that emanate from the combination of these eleven components. When consciousness is experienced through the mind and the senses, variety of sense objects result from such interaction. The Jiva gets attached to these sense objects which are the product of his own senses and the mind. He gets attached to the pleasure and pain experienced as a result of committing himself to sense objects. As he attaches himself to these objects and experiences pleasure and pain, there is identification with these experiences which the Jiva calls his own. Performing with the organs of action, actions prompted by interested motives, born out of association with the sense objects, the Jiva undergoes agreeable and disagreeable consequences. Not only that, the Jiva even gets attached to those consequences creating a whirligig of cause and effect around him. This is the nature of his mundane life.

Caught in repeated Births and Deaths

Once caught in the cycle of cause and effect, the possibility of exhausting the effects cannot come to an end in just one life-time. There is an insurmountable carry-over of causes that get created in each lifetime, this is Karma. Karma is unresolved action and forms the cause of a futuristic effect. Thus the living entity cycles through repeated births and deaths without any relief. The whole cause-effect cycle is like an ever-increasing avalanche that proceeds in intensity from one life into another. This represents the insatiable cycle of Maya, the cosmic illusion born out of attachment to sense objects and the result of actions performed with the senses.

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