Saragrahi.Org
Article By:Kundali Dasa & Satyanarayana Dasa. 1996
On Srila Jiva Goswam's Bhagavad-Sandarbha Section 18
"The Two Division of Maya"
Edited & Formatted by Upendranath Dasa 2022 09 16
The Two Divisions of Maya
Commentary Part 2

In Sections 17-19 of the Tattva Sandarbha, Jiva Gosvami established after careful analysis, that among all the Puranas the Srimad Bhagavatam is the Supreme.  The various Puranas are in different modes and the Srimad Bhagavatam is the most sattvika, (in the mode of goodness), hence the most efficient in giving knowledge of the AbsoluteSkanda Purana and Siva Purana conceal the reality and glorify some other deity, for the benefit of those in the lower modes.  Therefore, the verses that establish Devi as Absolute cannot be taken in the absolute sense.

On the contrary, Srimad Bhagavatam clearly describes that Maya cannot exist without the support of Lord Krishna.  She cannot even face Him.  Maya paraityabhimukhe ca villajamana (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.7.47).  In Bhagavad-gita (7.14) Krishna says “Maya is My divine material energy”.  Since Bhagavad-gita is accepted as authoritative even by the impersonalists, certainly the claim of the Saktas is not supported by the prasthantrayi which is accepted by all Vedic philosophers.

Srila Jiva Gosvami says that Maya can be divided in two categories based on her functions.  The two examples in the verse (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.9.33) explain these two features.  The first feature is called jivamaya, or the feature of Maya that covers the svarupa, (internal spiritual form and identity), of the living entity.  This is also called nimitta, or the efficient part, owing to its being instrumental in covering the living entity with ignorance.

 However, it is not sufficient to cover the nature or intelligence of the living entity.  To make the bondage perfect, she gives the material body, senses, and sense objects for the enjoyment of the jiva.  This is called gunamaya, because all this paraphernalia is a transformation of the modes (guna) of Maya.  This feature is also called upadana, or the material aspect, because it supplies the material ingredients.  Just as when a man goes to a nightclub;

  1. First, he gets intoxicated, which covers his intelligence, (jivamaya).
  2. Then he is allured by sense objects, such as a young woman, (gunamaya).

That makes his illusion complete.  In this way, the attack of Maya is two-fold:

  1. Internal,
  2. And external.

The two features complement and strengthen each other.  Thus, it is impossible for a conditioned soul to get out of her clutches without superior help.

Although Maya is real, and this world manifested by her is real, the bondage of the jiva is not real.  Otherwise, there will be no possibility of liberation.  This is confirmed in Lord Krishna’s teachings to Uddhava (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.11.1):

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: “My dear Uddhava, due to the influence of the material modes of nature, which are under My control, the living entity is sometimes designated as conditioned and sometimes as liberated.  In fact, however, the soul is never really bound up or liberated, and since I am the supreme Lord of Maya, which is the cause of the modes of nature, I also am never to be considered liberated or in bondage.”

These two aspects of Maya are indicated by Jvara in his prayers to Lord Krishna (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.63.26):

“Time; fate; karma; the jiva and his propensities; the subtle material elements; the material body; the life air; false ego; the various senses; and the totality of these are reflected in the living being’s subtle body.  All this constitutes Your material illusory energy, maya, and is an endless cycle like that of seed and plant.  I take shelter of You, the negation of maya.”

In this verse, time, fate, karma, and the jiva and his propensities form the jivamaya and the rest of the elements constitute the gunamaya.

The Lord said that whatever is experienced in His absence is Maya.  This means that only when a living entity is not favorably disposed to the Lord, he experiences Maya.  Sage Kavi further described this to King Nimi (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.2.37):

“Fear arises when a living entity misidentifies himself as the material body, because of absorption in the external, illusory energy of the Lord.  When the living entity turns away from the Supreme Lord, he forgets his constitutional position as a servant of the Lord.  This bewildering, fearful condition is effected by the potency of illusion, called maya.  Therefore, an intelligent person should engage steadfastly in the unalloyed devotional service of the Lord, under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, whom he should accept as his worshipable deity and as his very life and soul.”

This absorption of the living entities into the second i.e., Maya, the deluding potency, is the cause of his bondage, and thus the jivas are called nitya-baddha or anadi-baddha

Nobody can trace the beginning of this conditioning.  When by good fortune, the living entity surrenders to the bonafide spiritual master, this bondage is cut.  The fear is not because of Maya, but due to becoming absorbed in it.  If one is absorbed in devotional service, then the Maya can do no harm to him although he may live in the material world.  Therefore, one need not give up the material world.  One only needs to change his consciousness or object of absorption.

The jivamaya feature is further classified in two groups, vidya (spiritual knowledge) and avidya (spiritual ignorance).  This is explained in Srimad Bhagavatam 11.11.3Vidya is the gateway to liberation and avidya to bondage.  The essence is that gunamaya creates the upadhis (material designations), and then, owing to ignorance caused by jivamaya, the jiva superimposes these false designations onto himself or vice versa.  The result is his bondage to illusion.  When he understands his real nature as servant of the Lord, and surrenders to a bonafide servant of the Lord, then he is freed from this adhyasa, or illusory superimposition.

This understanding refutes the impersonal theory that the jiva comes about by the combination of consciousness with inert matter, which in effect means that the jiva has no factual existence. 

In the catuhsloki, the Lord gives two examples to illustrate the covering and deluding aspects of maya.  The first example is that of a light reflected into a dark region.  The reflection cannot occur without the light source nor can it occur within the source, and it cannot be perceived while perceiving the source.  Yet to perceive the reflection we need eyes, which work on the principle of light.  

If a strong light shines into one’s eyes, the vision will be distorted.  It is not possible to see the source of light.  This is the function of jivamaya–to cover the vision of the living entity.  This is also called abhasa and chaya.  When the eyes are dazzled, one sees colors that are caused by the reflected light which appear to take various shapes.  This effect is the gunamaya feature–to delude the living entity.  This polychromatic effect is referred to by the word tama because it is like darkness.

Alternatively, the example of reflection and darkness, independently, describe Maya.  The explanation of the reflection is the same as above.  Darkness cannot be found in the source, or presence of light, yet it is dependent on light because darkness is nothing but absence of light.  Moreover, it is seen with the help of light, the eyes, which are designed to perceive light.

Although Maya is the energy of the Lord, she is external to, or apart from His internal nature.  She is like the skin of a snake just before it is shed.  It is dependent, and supported by the snake, and grows from the body, yet is inert and external to his body.  The defects of this shed skin do not reflect in the person of the snake.  Hence it is neither one with, nor different from the snake.  It is not one because the snake sheds it, and still exists as before, without feeling any loss.  It is not different, because it cannot grow independent of the snake.

In conclusion, Maya is an inert potency of the Lord.  It is separate from the Lord, yet not independent.  Although inferior, apara, to the jiva which is para or superior, it nevertheless covers its intelligence by its inconceivable power, and engrosses them in sense gratification, by supplying them a material body, senses, and sense objects. 

It is real and thus eternal, yet undergoes transformations, and has a personal form called Devi or Durga.  Padma Purana describes the different appearances of jiva maya and gunamaya energies.  One can get free from its influence only by taking shelter of the Supreme Lord.

The word maya is also used to indicate yogamaya, which is a manifestation of the Lord’s internal potency.  This should be noted. 

Sometimes the external energy is called mahamaya, to distinguish it from yogamaya.  Yogamaya favorably covers the living entity, so that he can participate in intimate pastimes with the Lord without feelings of awe and reverence.

 Feelings of awe and reverence create distance between the master and servant.  Such distance is not conducive for intimate affectionate pastimes.  Yogamaya, however, being the internal potency of the Lord, accommodates the pleasure of the Lord.  Thus, the living entities that are qualified, are favorably covered so they can exist in loving intimacy free of awe and reverence.

The understanding of Mahamaya will help one to understand the Yogamaya.

The jivamaya feature is further classified in two groups, vidya (spiritual knowledge) and avidya (spiritual ignorance).  This is explained in Srimad Bhagavatam 11.11.3Vidya is the gateway to liberation and avidya to bondage.  The essence is that gunamaya creates the upadhis (material designations), and then, owing to ignorance caused by jivamaya, the jiva superimposes these false designations onto himself or vice versa.  The result is his bondage to illusion.  When he understands his real nature as servant of the Lord, and surrenders to a bonafide servant of the Lord, then he is freed from this adhyasa, or illusory superimposition.

This understanding refutes the impersonal theory that the jiva comes about by the combination of consciousness with inert matter, which in effect means that the jiva has no factual existence. 

In the catuhsloki, the Lord gives two examples to illustrate the covering and deluding aspects of maya.  The first example is that of a light reflected into a dark region.  The reflection cannot occur without the light source nor can it occur within the source, and it cannot be perceived while perceiving the source.  Yet to perceive the reflection we need eyes, which work on the principle of light.  If a strong light shines into one’s eyes, the vision will be distorted.  It is not possible to see the source of light.  This is the function of jivamaya–to cover the vision of the living entity.  This is also called abhasa and chaya.  When the eyes are dazzled, one sees colors that are caused by the reflected light which appear to take various shapes.  This effect is the gunamaya feature–to delude the living entity.  This polychromatic effect is referred to by the word tama because it is like darkness.

Alternatively, the example of reflection and darkness, independently, describe Maya.  The explanation of the reflection is the same as above.  Darkness cannot be found in the source, or presence of light, yet it is dependent on light because darkness is nothing but absence of light.  Moreover, it is seen with the help of light, the eyes, which are designed to perceive light.

Although Maya is the energy of the Lord, she is external to, or apart from His internal nature.  She is like the skin of a snake just before it is shed.  It is dependent, and supported by the snake, and grows from the body, yet is inert and external to his body.  The defects of this shed skin do not reflect in the person of the snake.  Hence it is neither one with, nor different from the snake.  It is not one because the snake sheds it, and still exists as before, without feeling any loss.  It is not different, because it cannot grow independent of the snake.

In conclusion, Maya is an inert potency of the Lord.  It is separate from the Lord, yet not independent.  Although inferior, apara, to the jiva which is para or superior, it nevertheless covers its intelligence by its inconceivable power, and engrosses them in sense gratification, by supplying them a material body, senses, and sense objects. 

It is real and thus eternal, yet undergoes transformations, and has a personal form called Devi or Durga.  Padma Purana describes the different appearances of jiva maya and gunamaya energies.  One can get free from its influence only by taking shelter of the Supreme Lord.

The word maya is also used to indicate yogamaya, which is a manifestation of the Lord’s internal potency.  This should be noted. 

Sometimes the external energy is called mahamaya, to distinguish it from yogamaya.  Yogamaya favorably covers the living entity, so that he can participate in intimate pastimes with the Lord without feelings of awe and reverence.

 Feelings of awe and reverence create distance between the master and servant.  Such distance is not conducive for intimate affectionate pastimes.  Yogamaya, however, being the internal potency of the Lord, accommodates the pleasure of the Lord.  Thus, the living entities that are qualified, are favorably covered so they can exist in loving intimacy free of awe and reverence.

The understanding of Mahamaya will help one to understand the Yogamaya.

FOOT NOTES:

[1] pol-y-chro-mic or pol-y-chro-mous adj. 1.  Having or exhibiting many colors.  2. Of or composed of radiation of more than one wavelength: polychromatic light.

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