Yoga Maya and Maha Maya



Yoga Maya and Maha Maya
by His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Gosvami Maharaja

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written of the principle of energy. The three modes of material nature is material energy called 'Maha-Maya and is responsible fore the material activities like creation and destruction. As long as the living entity is engrossed in

sense gratification; till then he comes under this influence of illusory energy. He is able to escape from this abominable material energy only on realization of his innate blissful spiritual identity in relation with transcendence. The question is asked do the devotees come under any energy at all? The answer is yes, we are part of the material energy but having escaped the realm of material energy, we are now under the safe protection of the spiritual energy.

Together with Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja

Together with Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja

The opposition sometimes raise this question "so are you all the worshippers of the female personification of Divine energy" (sakta)? The answer is "yes" we are under the shelter of the personification of spiritual energy Srimati Radharani. We are practicing devotions entirely under Her direction. We can compare ourselves in this sense as Saktas and are therefore non-different from the devotees (Vaishnavas). On the contrary, those not taking shelter of this spiritual potency but only have attraction for the material aspect are not considered devotees but are simply sense enjoyers. In Narada Pancaratra, Durga Devi says: "I am Your loving partner in your delightful Vrndavana pastimes in the form of Your internal pleasure potency". We perceive from the statement of Durga Devi that this energy is non-dual. In the transcendental feature, this energy is present as Srimate Radhika and in the material form manifests as the material energy. The question is sometimes raised by the opposition that the smarta brahmins say that the energy of Lord Siva is the foremost energy (sakti). Why is this?
Srila Bhaktivinodha Thakura

Srila Bhaktivinodha Thakura

Srila Bhaktivinoda replies. The material nature is composed of the three modes: goodness, passion and ignorance. The brahmins who are oriented in goodness worship the demigod in that material mode of goodness; those in passion worship the demigod in passion while those in the mode of ignorance worship "material nature" a knowledge. In actual fact, there is no separate energy called material energy and "Maya" is just a transformation of the spiritual potency. It is but the shadow energy of the pure spiritual potency of the Lord. The material energy is mainly responsible for the conditioning of the living entity as a form of punishment due to his forgetfulness of his relationship with the Supreme Lord. The living entity, on regaining his lost relationship with the Lord becomes surcharged with knowledge and bliss. However, if the material energy becomes predominant, it makes the living entities in their forgetfulness refer to this illusory energy (Maya) as all in all. This explains the worship of material nature (sakta). Gradually, the bewildered living entity, by long period of accumulation of pious merit, can be impelled into the position of acquiring divine knowledge (Vaishnava).
Durga Devi

Durga Devi

The question is raised again: do we sometimes compare Durga Devi to be a transcendental associate within the precincts of Gokula? The answer given by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is:- yes! In the spiritual world Durga Devi is called YogaMaya. She is present as the seed-form in the changes of the spiritual energy. For this reason, she considers herself non-different from the original internal energy of the spiritual world. YogaMaya, also can be transformed into material energy, or shadow potency. The material goddess Durga Devi is the servitor of the spiritual aspect of the same Durga Devi. The spiritual Durga Devi plays an important part in Lord Krishna's variegated pastimes as YogaMaya. The Srimad Bhagavatam (10/29/20) describes how the Lord takes shelter of His own internal potency in the love-sports of the gopis. (YogaMaya anupasritah). The internal energy which nourishes such divine pastimes may look like ignorance but in reality is an essential ingredient in the blossoming of these transcendental sports. The opposition then raises the query if so why do the devotees not honor the remnants of Goddess Durga and other demigods? Why specifically Vishnu prasadam?
Kālī, Durgā, Śiva, Ganeśa,  non are God. Krishna in the center is God

Kālī, Durgā, Śiva, Ganeśa, non are God. Krishna in the center is God

The answer is, Lord Krishna is the sole Supreme Lord and all the demigods are His loyal servants. The leavings of the pure devotees if partaken gives rise to pure devotion. The remnants of food partaken by the pure devotees, the dust of their lotus feet and the water that washes their feet are highest and most conducive to devotion. The fact is, the impersonalists make a show of worshipping the Deity and offer foodstuffs to them but the demigods neither appreciate their worship nor accept such foodstuffs seeing their ignorance by the verdict of scriptures. Ultimately, worship of the demigods is a form of Impersonalism. Ultimately, worship of the demigods is a form of Impersonalism. To accept foodstuff from such impersonalists is detrimental to pure devotion and the Goddess of Devotion becomes offended by this action.
Radha and Krishna The Absolute Truth

Radha and Krishna The Absolute Truth

On the other hand, of a pure devotee offers remnants o foodstuffs of Lord Krishna (Krishna prasadam) to the demigods, then they all dance in joy. These remnants of the demigods are then partaken with relish by the devotees (mahaprasadam). In the yoga scriptures, one should never accept the remnants of any demigod. Here the sole reason for such refusal is that they are able to remain steadfast in their meditations in doing so and not in any way wanting to be offensive to the demigods. Usually, in the practice of devotion, remaining loyal and unalloyed to one's worshipable Deity is beneficial while partaking of the remnants of the foodstuffs of other Deities does not contribute to the practice of such devout or loyal worship of one's beloved Deity. In conclusion, there is no question of offense involved in such practices, to obtain spiritual advancement one has to follow scriptural injunctions verbatim.
Lord Krishna

Lord Krishna is The Supreme personality Of Godhead

Lord Krishna has an eternally youthful form and He is the Undivided Absolute Truth. He exhibits Supreme Majesty and uncommonness in His prabhava and vaibhava forms. Again, His expansions are two-fold, direct expansions (amsa) and empowered incarnations (satya vesha). Further, His childhood and youthful pastimes are of different contrast and moods. Even though He performs His pastimes in these six different ways He remains the sole Absolute Supreme Being unchanged in any way. He is the possessor of directly opposing qualities, characteristics of only the Supreme Power in the Spiritual dimension. In Him are present all fame, opulence, knowledge, wealth, renunciation and beauty to the highest degree, unraveling His extraordinary sweetness. His spiritual energy is called the internal energy and all divine spiritual planets have manifested as a result of this energy. The marginal energy gives rise to the innumerable living entities together with the liberated souls. The external material energy helps to create the different material universes.
The four handed form of Lord Hari

The four handed form of Lord Hari

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura comments on the prabhava and vaibhava pastimes:- that which has the four handed form of Lord Hari in existence, knowledge and bliss is the prabhava form and while when it differs slightly from the actual four-handed form then it is termed vaibhava. Prabhava signifies predominance of Lordship or mastery and vaibhava denotes mysticism or uncommonness. Prabhava expansion are of two categories, one type occurs at the end of yugas and is only for a brief period like Mohini, Hamsa and Sukla etc. The other type is not so common, like, Danvantari, Rsabha, Vyasadeva, Dattatreya and Kapiladeva. The category of vaibhava expansions include Kurma, Matsya, Nara-Narayana, Varaha, Prisnigarbha, Yajna, Vibhu, Hari Vamana, Visvaksena, and all the fourteen Manus in their different Manvantaras. That one Supreme Lord, whose energies are beyond this mundane material world, is present in four distinct features as stated by Srila Jiva Gosvami in his Bhagavat Sandarbha.

These features are His transcendental and original form, His Splendor consisting of the spiritual worlds, the living entity and inert material nature. As an analogy, these four features can be compared to the sun whose different aspects are the form of the sun's effulgence, the sun globe, the sun's rays and the reflection of the sun's rays or its shadows. A huge blazing fire may be situated in one place but the effect of its effulgence may be permeated a long distance away. Similarly the energies of the Supreme Lord are permeated throughout the universe though He is situated in one place as in the Spiritual World, as verified by Visnu Purana.

Impressions of the Spiritual World from Vedic descriptions

Impressions of the Spiritual World from Vedic descriptions

The Srutis describe the Supreme Lord as whose tiny rays of effulgence are the myriad living entities. Inconceivably, the source of energy can be equal to its diverse energies. These inconceivable energies are three fold in division, the internal, marginal and external potency. It is inconceivable because it can make impossible things happen. The internal spiritual potency has resulted in the transcendental form of the Supreme Lord plus the colossal spiritual world like Goloka and Vaikuntha which are manifestation of this energy. The marginal energy consists of the many living entities which are but rays of the Supreme, while the material energy gives rise to the gross and subtle material coverings in this universe, or in urn the shadow potency of the original spiritual energy.
The ancient Srimad Bhagavatam translated by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

The ancient Srimad Bhagavatam translated by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

These three different energies are described in Vishnu Purana. The material energy is in charge of deluding the minute sparks (jiva soul) with ignorance and which causes them to work with desires for fruits of work. The external material energy is inferior by nature, still it has the power of bewildering the marginally-situated superior living entity. The living entity by origin being transcendental but by identifying with the three modes of material nature becomes entangled. The effects of the material energy manifests in varying degrees depending on the position of Lord Brahma down to the non-moving living entities. Thus the original spiritual spark in its ignorance is compelled to suffer the bad effects of this material energy. In Srimad Bhagavatam (1/7/5)
Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

It is explained that the only way to escape the effects of this insurmountable material energy, is to practice constant and unmotivated devotional service to the Supreme Lord and not otherwise. In the Bhagavad Gita (7/13-14).

tribhir guna-mayair bhavaih ebhih sarvam idam jagat
mohitam nabhijanati mam ebhyah param avyayam
daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te
The three modes of material nature are working under My direction and belong to the inferior energy, but the living entities are influenced by their interactions.

(ii) The three modes of material nature form the inferior energy, by their effects, all the living entities are deluded and are not able to know My divine Nature."

(iii) Srila Cakravartipada, on this third verse "Daivyesa" has commented the fallen living entities, due to the desire to extract enjoyment from material nature, have become bewildered by the demigods. Sri Ramanujacarya has defined the word "daivi" as that crated for the sport of the demigods or that which is instigated by the demigods. Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana has commented that Devi means not out of this world, or very extraordinary material energy and for the conditioned souls, extremely unsurpassable. Those who surrender to My divine form can cross over this ocean of material existence.



Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes: "The Supreme Lord is the storehouse and controller of all energies. All these energies, internal, marginal and material are His maidservants. Simply by His sweet will, He sets into motion all these variety of energies. The tiny infinitesimal living speck, though possessing in a minute measure the qualities of the Supreme Lord, can be deluded by this strong material nature. Miyate anaya iti maya — that which can be measured is called Maya. However, this illusory energy serves as a yard stick to identify the different worlds like the material world, living entities and the spiritual world. Lord Krsna is the master of this material energy while the living entity can be subjugated by this material energy."
The cosmic manifestation is controlled by God

The cosmic manifestation is controlled by God

The Svetasvatara Sruti (4/9-20)
yasmanmayi srjate visvam etat tasmin ca anyo mayaya sanniruddah
mayantu prakrtim vidyan mayinnantu mahesvaram:
The Lord creates this universe from material elements and the living entity being influenced by the material energy, becomes entangled by it. The controller of the material nature is the Supreme Lord who pervades the whole cosmic manifestation.

The word 'mayi' refers to Lord Krishna who is the powerful ruler of all energies. The minute living entity, even on liberation, cannot equal this state, for the Supreme Autocrat creates the entire material world plus the spiritual worlds. His material creation is done through the agency of Lord Brahma. In Brahma Sutra (4/4/19). Learned scholars confirm there is an eternal gulf of difference between the living entity and the Lord.

Lord Brahma

Lord Brahma

What is the difference between the illusory energy (Maya) and ignorance (avidya)? The illusory energy is the energy of Sri Krishna and with this, He creates the entire material worlds and these energies that have been unleashed also serves the purpose of rectifying the fallen entities. Material energy has two functions (1) avidya or ignorance (2) Pradhan or existing material nature in inert condition. Ignorance (avidya) causes the biding of the living entity while the existing inert material nature evolves as the whole material universe under impulse i.e., while (avidya) ignorance is the cause of the unwanted desires of the living entities, the inert material nature leads after stimulus to become the cosmic material creation. Material energy too has two categories 1)Knowledge, 2)Ignorance.

The knowledge aspect is that which enlightens the living entity to liberation while the ignorant aspect binds the living entity. When the action of the knowledge feature springs into motion, one becomes inclined to the devotional service of the Lord, and when one forgets Sri Krishna, that is the play of ignorance (avidya). The knowledge of the Absolute Truth is all included under this action of knowledge. At the start, this entails intelligent discrimination and proper effort to cultivate such knowledge.v_Teachings_of_Lord_KapilaIn Srimad Bhagavatam Lord Kapila deva's teachings, the Supreme Lord is the master of the three modes of nature. Sri Ramanuja has written in his 'Gita-Bhasya' of "Maya" which is stated as when the actual identity of the Supreme Lord becomes covered in one's vision and one's own self becomes enmeshed in the selfish enjoying mentality, this is the work of 'Maya'. Due to this form of delusive energy, the whole world cannot fathom the blissful Supreme Controller. The only solution is in complete surrender to the lotus feet of the Lord. Srila Ramanuja explains "one who is endowed with right thought, compassionate, equal to all beings without distinction and surrendered to the Supreme Lord can hope to cross over this ocean of material existence. One should, by worshipping Him, completely give up 'Maya", illusory energy.

Sri Ramanuja

Sri Ramanuja

In the writings of Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana we see:- The Supreme Lord is very affectionate to His devotees and those who are surrendered to Him, will easily be able to cross over the material existence. This material existence is compared to a huge ocean which can instantly reduced to a hoof-print of a cow by such surrender. The word 'mam eva' means one who is exclusively surrendered to Sri Krishna and not anyone else, for surrender to the other demigods like Lord Siva does not entail liberation. The Srutis say that those who know the Supreme Lord in truth can become immortal.
Lord Vishnu

Lord Vishnu

Once the demigods had informed King Mucukunda "Oh King, may good fortune be upon you!; whatever you may desire other than complete liberation can be awarded by us but only Lord Vishnu can bestow liberation". Sridhar Swami writes; "Pure devotion with surrender is required to overcome the three modes of nature; The word 'eva' is used to demonstrate singe-pointed devotion to the Supreme Lord. Bereft of this process of devotion, by the influence of this divine material energy, one may have to wander through countless wombs due to ignorance or pray to the different demigods and thus end up rotating up and down this universe. All this is the snare of 'Maya' and the incredible effects of this energy have been described in detail in the Markandeya Purana. The next question is what is the nature and position of the living entity? Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura quotes from Gita:- Untitled-1 copybhumir apo'nalo vayuh kham mano buddhir eva ca
ahankara itiyam me bhinna prakrtir astadha
aparayam itas tv anyam prakrtim viddhi me param
jiva-bhutam maha-baho yayedam dharyate jagat

Earth, water ,fire, either, mind, intelligence and false ego; these eight are the components of My inferior material nature. Above this material nature is my superior nature which is composed of living entities.

The Gita confirms that the living entity is superior to material nature but inferior to the transcendental spiritual potency.

This is described by Srila Krsnadas Kaviraja in Caitanya Caritamrta:-

ji vera svarupa haya krsnera nitya dasa
krsnera tatastha sakti bhedabheda prakash

The living entity is the eternal servant of the Supreme Lord and His marginal potency. He is equal in quality not in quantity and are the rays of the Supreme Lord. Just as the sun ordinarily radiates light, in this manner they are likewise emanating from the Supreme. In Vishnu Purana the superior, marginal and the material energy have been discussed (para, kshetra and avidya).

krsna bhuli sei jiva-anadi-bhahirmukha ataeva maya tare deya samsara duhkha
The living entity has been covered by illusion for a long time and have been suffering countless miseries but by receiving the mercy of the pure devotees, he takes to the devotional service of the Lord which frees him from the effects of the illusory energy. Seeing the bewilderment of the living entity, the compassionate Lord reveals the scriptures. Consequently, by this utility of scripture with the help of the external spiritual master and internal 'caitya-guru' (the Supreme Lord in the heart), he uncovers his real spiritual identity. This according to stages is the process of knowledge to Sri Krishna (sambandha), the devotional practice which is abhideya and finally devotion to the Supreme Lord. It has already been mentioned that the Lord is the controller of the material energy while the living entity can be subjugated by the material energy. The Svestasvatara Upanisad mentions:

balgra-sata bhagasya sadadha kaliptasya ca
bhago jivah ca cinjeyah sa canantyaya kalpate

The living entity is compared to the size of one ten-thousandth of a tip of a single hair. Nevertheless, that same living entity can be qualified to be liberated.

On Vedanta sutra (2/3/18) it describes how the living entity being very tiny, can be overcome by the tendency for either sinful or pious activities. Manduka Sruti (3/1/19) describes, eso' nuratma cetasa veditavyo: The minute living soul ultimately has to attain the form of purified consciousness. The Lord is the controller of material energy while the living entity by nature being spiritual is liable to be influenced by the material energy due to its minute nature. Srimad Bhagavatam (1/7/4-5) states:

bhakti-yogena manasi samyak pranihite 'male
apasyat purusam purnam mayam ca tad-apasrayam
yaya sammohito jivatmanam tri-gunatmakam
paro 'pi manute 'nartham tat-krtam cabhipadyate

Srila Vyasa deva, by the power of devotional service with his mind and senses perfectly controlled, was able to see the bodily complexion of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna with His different expansion and energies. He glimpsed also the material energy situated at the back of the Lord and as one aspect of His different energies.

This material energy is the only shadow form of His spiritual internal potency and is responsible for the illusion of the living entities in two ways:- they are the 'akaranatmika' potency which functions to cover the living entity's orginal identity, the other is by the viksepatmika'potency by which the mind and intelligence of the living entity becomes confused or bewildered. The effect of this material energy binds the living entity into the triple modes of material nature, whereby immediately he develops the false consciousness of being the doer and enjoyer and by this false ego becomes entangled. The characteristic of the marginal potency is of its being able to be influenced by both the spiritual and material energies.

From (Brhat Aranya Sruti 2/2/20)

yatha agneh ksudra vishpur linga vyucharanty
evam eva asmadatmanah sarvani bhutam vyuccharanti
Just as many tiny sparks are emitted from a blazing fire, similarly many varieties of minute living entities are produced from the Supreme Lord. The living entity has the option to either stay in the material world or attain the spiritual world. He is in the middle position at the demarcation between these two worlds and has equal opportunity to go to either of these worlds.

This marginal position can be described for more clarity. Just as a huge fish can move either to one bank or the opposite bank, similarly the living entity , from his MARGINAL POSITION can go either to the material or spiritual worlds, and is dependent on whether he is dreaming (in illusion) or awake in knowledge. The word "tatastha" is further examined. The boundary between the land and the water is called the bank (tatastha). This is usually a narrow strip so minute that it cannot be seen with a naked eye. If we compare the spiritual world to the ocean and the material world to be the land, that minute strip or boundary is the corresponding position of the living entity. Both these words are huge in comparison to the minute living entity. Both these worlds are huge in comparison to the minute living entity. Thus in the middling position being the marginal energy, partial characteristics of both sides are present in the living entity. By proper spiritual cultivation, he can be spiritualized or conversely in being ignorant, can fall into the material whirlpool. Originally the living entity is constituted of spiritual elements, not material. Nevertheless, it can be overcome by the force of material attraction. Without the association of pure devotees, the living entity cannot be released from his precarious position. In Caitanya Caritamrta is described how the living entities, though minute sparks of the Supreme, are either bonded or eternally liberated. The bonded souls are suffering hellish pains by punishment afflicted upon them by material nature due to their enjoying tendencies. Eventually, in receiving instructions from the pure devotees submissively they can be freed by taking to the devotional service of the Lord. In C.C, the teachings to Sanatana Gosvami, begins with:

advaya-jnana-tattva krsna-svayam bhagavan
svarupa-saktirupa tanhara haya avasthana
The Lord has two types of expansions (amsa). His own spiritual expansions, and the other His tiny living parts and parcels-jiva (vibhinnamsa). Without the shelter of the Lord, the bonded living entities cannot escape from the clutches of Maya. On this above verse, Sri Srila Prabhupada comments that Lord Krishna is the Supreme Non-Dual Truth. His energies are equal to the source of energy but the energy in this connection is not the bewildering shadow material energy or that which deludes the bonded souls but that which serves Lord Krishna in His diverse loving pastimes. The 'Maya' or insurmountable material energy here has to be overcome and not worshipped.

In Srimad Bhagavatam (2/5/13):

villajamanaya yasya statum iksa-pathe 'muya
vimohita vikatthante mamaham iti durdhiyah
The material personified energy, being ashamed of her despicable work was not able to come in front of the Supreme Lord for her action, the living entity becomes bewildered into thinking in terms of "me" and "mine." By these statements, the bewildering action of this material energy which causes the delusion of living entities has been condemned.

In the nectarine pastimes of Sri Hari, the moods of contrast are always present, the opposite contrasting mellows, inevitably serving to nourish such pastimes in full. It is not that one advocates all the opposite contrasting moods only and tries to reject the normal recommended practices. This type of action is not in accordance with the scriptures.

The scriptures like Bhagavad Gita give proper direction of how one can overcome material nature and be freed. In actual fact, without the association of saintly personalities, one cannot understand the purports of these scriptures. The scriptures, with its manifold opposing conclusions are difficult to discern and their mystery can be uncovered in the proper vision, solely with the help of saintly people. In Bhagavad Gita, the Supreme Lord has equivocally described the importance of work, yoga and knowledge but in the end has revealed the great secret, pure devotional service with the verses beginning with: "man mana-bhava mad bhakta" and also "sarva dharman parityaja". These two verses contain the summum bonnum of devotional service. It has further been demonstrated in the Srimad Bhagavatam, that spontaneous attraction to the Supreme is expressed in the different loving ways of servitude, friendship, parental love and conjugal love, which is ascertained as the highest goal.

Sriman Mahaprabhu had informed Srila Svarupa Damodara for the benefit of the brahmins in Bengal province.

yaha bhagavata pade vaisnavera sthane
ekanta asraya kara caitanya carane
caitanya bhakta ganera nitya kara sanga
tabe ta janie siddhanta samudra-tarange

One has to study the cream of all scriptures, Srimad Bhagavatam in the association of the pure devotees of the Lord so that he can cross over the ocean of all types of deviant and opposing devotional conclusions. In this way, one can free himself from Maha Maya and take to the lotus feet of Sri Krishna with devotion. Finally, the shelter of Srila Gurudeva is very essential in devotional service to get the mercy of Yogamaya and free oneself from the effects of Maha Maya.

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