Maya means inexplicability. The term Maya is often used in the sense of illusion. Maya is regarded as the material cause of the universe. Maya is so called because the universe is resolve (ma) into it, and is evolved (ya) from it. Maya is one of the bonds of the soul. The world of Maya is usually referred to as a-sat (unreal), which means that the world is other than God who is sat (real). The world which can only be described as inexpressible is some times called Maya. It is neither non-existent nor existent, nor is it both combined. It is of the nature of mithya (illusion) and is therefore eternal. The word Maya has been variously conceptualized and is used to denote different meanings: 1. That the world is not self-explanatory shows its phenomenal character which is signified by the word ‘Maya’. 2. The problem of the relation between God and the world has meaning for us who admit that the pure being of God from the intuitive standpoint and wish to know its relation to the world. This incomprehensibility is brought out by the world ‘Maya’. 3. If God is the cause of the world, which He is, and the world is its effect and dependent on God, which it is; this phenomenon is called ‘Maya’. 4. The word ‘Maya’ is also used to denote: this whole universe consisting of a series of thoughts and works, means and ends, actions and results, although held together, is transient, illusory, impure, unsubstantial, a mirage, a dream and so on, and yet appears to those who have identified themselves with it to be undecaying, eternal and full of substance. However, according to Gurbani (the Sikh Scripture), Maya is defined as that by which man forgets God and develops attachment and love with all things other than God. While the world is dependent on God, the latter is not dependent on the world. The world is not essential being like God; nor is it non-being. Maya is a mythical ‘goddess’, a temptress and an illusion. Guru Nanak says – Maya, the mythical goddess, Springs from the One, and her womb brought forth Three acceptable disciples of the one; Brahma, Visnu and Siva. Brahma, it is said, bodies forth the world, Visnu, it is who sustains it; Siva the destroyer who absorbs, He controls death and judgement. God makes them to work as He wills, He sees them ever, they see Him not; That of all is the greatest wonder. japji, Pauri 30 The universe is ever in a flux. Everything in this universe keeps on changing. Things come to exist, pass through a period of growth and ultimately change their forms. The universe is impermanent. This impermanent nature of the universe is also termed Maya. Ignorance about the impermanent nature of the universe is also termed as Maya. God as the Spiritual Reality is master and director of His Maya, whereby, He causes fragmentation to appear out of His integral spiritual essence a monadic infinitesimal essence in the form of man who is liable to be subjugated by Maya. It is Maya which brings in ignorance in man to forget his real nature of remaining subservient to God and making him set up as an independent possessive self-existence. It is this ignorance which eventually causes all the frustrations and suffering of man. In Asa-di-Var, Guru Nanak says that man is misled by Maya and only a few spiritually enlightened persons can understand Maya and free themselves from its clutches – And thou, great man, thy worldly goods will not go with thee; Maya, the veil of illusion hath misled the world And few indeed know this to be so. Rag Sorath (SGGS-595) Guru Nanak believes that although this universe is impermanent, yet it is real, because it is the creation of the True Being. Universe, as such, is not an illusion: "True are Your Continents, Galaxies, stars and other forms…. True is Your Power, True the World Court True is Your Order (Hukam) True Your Writ (individual’s destiny)… Asa-di-var, (1-463) In Sohila-Arti (Bed-time Prayer), Guru Arjun Dev, the Fifth Guru, has emphasized that in this impermanent, awry and illusionary world only the Brahm-Gyani, knower of the Divine Knowledge, is saved from the spell of Maya – The world is awry, is illusionary. The man Who knoweth God, the Brahm-gyani, is saved. Whom God awakeneth to drink of His Name’s essence. He knoweth the Unknowable, Whose story can never be told. Even Guru Nanak says in Asa-di-Var (41-ii) that ‘kam krodh – kaya ko gale," that is : Lust and Wrath waste the body, As borax melts the gold, But the gold that can stand the test of fire Is valued highly by the goldsmith, So it is with the souls. Man is an animal, And egoism is the butcher; In the hands of the Creator Is the saving grace. Maya encourages the vanity of the earthly ways in which self-will (haumai) asserts itself and, under the deceptive belief, man, forgetful of its original source, that is, the Supreme Spirit, sets himself up as an independent entity and has his own way in all things. This situation can also be described as a mental chaos, a state of confusion, absurdity and meaninglessness. In Maya everything is enveloped in delusiveness; nothing is clear. Pain, sorrow and anxiety then overwhelm the mood of man. In Gurbani, it is pointed out that Maya is like a great temptress and man falls under its spell and delusion, and then it does not let him go. He lives a degraded and deluded life full of pain and enxiety, far away from God, and, in that state of delusion, thinks whatever he is doing is right. He lives in the deceptive state of disquiet and discontentment : The cravings of mind get never stilled With treasures of world though I am filled. In this confused state, man even forgets his death because he forgets his Lord. The more a man remains enmeshed in the web of Maya, the more he struggles; and the more he struggles, the more he wallows in the sordidness of uncertainty and confusion, and ****her he gets away from God. Maya has three gunas (attributes) : namely, Sattavs (intellect), Rajas (passion) and Tamas (indolence). The characteristics of these gunas are : Sattava is the power of nature that illuminates and reveals all manifestations. It stands for goodness, purity, intelligence and brightness. It gives health, strength, vitality, joy, cheerfulness and attracts pleasantness and knowledge. These good qualities sometimes even cause ego-centricity and perversion. Rajas means energy, passion, craving and attachment. It is the motive force for action. It is activating and exciting. Its functions are to move things, overcome resistance and perform actions. It is responsible for all motion and chance that goes on throughout the nature. In nature, it manifests as the force of winds. Tamas means the power that restrains, obstructs and checks. It envelopes the other two gunas by counter-acting the tendency of Rajas to do acts and Sattava to reveal. It is the restricting and binding attribute of Maya. Its function is to restrict motion. It is the cause of indolence, dullness and inertia. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib, there are many illustrations depicting the power of these gunas (urges). In the visible world, these gunas are described to be great inciters which keep man occupied throughout his life. It is Maya which, with the assistance of these gunas, creates desires in the mind of a man and propels him to do action. Action done under the influence of Maya could be good, passionate for cravings or steeped in ignorance; man develops attachment with the worldly things and does not wish to part with them. Under the over-all influence of Maya, man works under five instincts, namely, Kam (pleasure), Krodh (anger), Lobha (greed), Moh (attachment) and Ahankar (ego), which, in the Holy Scripture of the Sikhs, are called the five dominent passions, or five robber agents, of Maya. In sukhmani, Guru Arjun Dev, the Fifth Guru, says – O Lord, Nanak hath taken refuge in Thee; Through Thy Grace, O Divine Guru, drive Lust, wrath, greed, attachment, self-love from his heart. Ashtapadi, 6 Slok 1. It is man’s duty to control his rajas (passion) and tamas (indolence) by means of his sattaya (intellect) nature which seeks for the truth of things and right law of action. Even when we act under the influence of our Sattaya nature, we are not completely free. Sattaya binds us to the world as much as the other two gunas. The difference is that our desires for truth and virtue are nobler. The sense of ego is still very much operative. We must rise above our ego and grow into the Supreme Self of which the ego is an expression. When we make our individual being one with the Supreme, we rise above nature of Maya with his gunas and free ourselves from the bonds of the world. Imprints of the action carried by a man go with him, even after his death, as inherited tendencies. For noble deeds he is rewarded and for ignoble deeds he is punished which are reflected in his next birth. In Pauri 33 of Japji, it is mentioned that man acts under the temperament inherited which is not changeable in the normal circumstances. Under the influence of his ego (Haumai), man performs new actions, he then lands himself into the cycle of birth and death. Actions taken under the influence of Maya (illusion) and its gunas such as Sattaya, Rajas and Tamas and Haumai (ego) create bondages in the path of a man’s progress towards union with God from whom the soul originated. Maya misleads a man from love for God towards attachment for lower passions and desires. All actions and creations under the influence of Maya are deceitful and keep a man steeped in bondage and away from the Lord: Baba maya ki rachna dhohu (Sri Rag, SGGS-15). The Holy Scriptures provides illustrations about punishment given to man for his wrong-doings. "Hate, conflict, sensual desire, anger, emotional attachment, falsehood, corruption, immense greed and deceit; so many lifetimes are spent in these ways, Says Nanak : uplift those minds, O Lord, show your mercy." It becomes quite clear that God has preordained for every man. Wherever man transgresses that preordination, under the influence of Maya and ego, he has to face the consequences. The fundamental techning of Sikhism is that man should exercise discipline to become selfless, or haumai-less (ego-less). Unless man removes the obstacle of haumai (ego), he cannot achieve his spritual goal. Man, while performing his active life, must try to detach himself from the worldly attachments. Guru Arjun Dev has said – The hunger for worldly wealth in never satisfied, The world’s thirst is not quenched; But let a man detach himself from worldly attachments, And after his trial he shall prosper, When through the Lord’s Infinite Mercy in the mind’s temple I encountered the True Guru, The lamp of wisdom was lighted. I understood then what victory and defeat are, I grasped life’s purpose. Rag Gauri (SGGS-235) The more a man is detached from the world of Maya, the closer he gets to the Lord. The Sikh Scriptures exhort that man should live in the world like the proverbial lotus which grows in the quagmire (with can be alluded to as the world of Maya), unmindful of its surroundings, blossoming and remaining in the quagmire, yet detached, bestowing its beauty and bounty to the surrounding. Similarly, man performing his pre-ordained duties, if he is detached from the worldly desires generated by the agents and instincts controlled by Maya, the closer he will get to the presence of the Lord. In this is the salvation for him.