LONDON, 1896

    The word Maya is generally understood, or rather misunderstood, to denote illusion. It was no doubt, used in that sense in the oldest parts of the Vedas. Over time, however, with the concepts of perception coming in for close study, that connotation changed. By the time of the Upanishads, the word had acquired a totally different meaning. The Svetasvatara Upanishad declares nature to be Maya, and the Ruler of Maya to be the Lord Himself

    Maya of the Vedanta - the endpoint of the Vedas - has thus simply come to refer to nature with all it's inexplicable contradictions. All these contradictions of light and darkness, heat and cold, pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, love and hate, war and peace, life and death, are seen as not only inexplicable but also as inescapable concomitants of the existence as we experience it. Theorising does not alter these facts that we have to live with.

    "What does the statement of the existence of the world mean then ? 'This world has no existence'. What is meant by that ? It means that the world has no absolute existence. It exists only in relation to my mind, to your mind, and to the mind of everyone else. We see thhis world with the five senses, but if we had another sense, we would see in it something more. If we had yet another sense, it would appear as something still different. It has, therefore, no real existence; it has no unchangeabble, immovable, infinite existence. Nor can it be called non-existence, seeing that it exists, and we have to work in and through it. It is a mixture of existence and non-existence....... "

    "All religions are more or less, attempts to get beyond nature -- the crudest or the most developed, expressed through mythology or symbology, stories of gods, angels or demons, or through stories of saints or seers, great men or prophets, or through abstractions of philosophy -- all have that one object, all are trying to get beyond these limitations. In one word, they are all struggling towards freedom. Man feels, consciously or unconsciously, that he is bound; he is not what he wants to be ...... the idea of freedom increases until it comes to the idea of a Personal God, of which the central concept is that He is a Being beyond the limitation of nature, of Maya....... "

    ".... We see then, that beyond this Maya the Vedantic philosophers find something which is not bound by Maya; and if we can get there, we shall not be bound by Maya. This idea is in some form or the other the common property of all religions. But, with the Vedanta, it is only the beginning of religion, not the end. The idea of a Personal God, the Ruler and Creator of this universe, as He has been styled, the Ruler of Maya, or nature, is not the end of these Vedantic ideas; it is only the beginning. The idea grows and grows until the Vedantist finds that He who, he thought, was standing outside, is he himself, and in reality is within. He is the one who is free, but who through limitation, thought he was bound."