[Advaita-l] Is the concept of maya essential to explain advaita?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Jan 25 04:07:31 CST 2012

On Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 8:17 AM, Venkatesh Murthy <vmurthy36 at gmail.com>wrote:

> Namaste
> I am showing that Maya is not supported by Adi Sankara below.  Adi Sankara
> is not agreeing with Gaudapada regarding world and dream. Gaudapada is
> saying objects in waking are like dream objects. But Adi Sankara has
> disagreed in Sutra Bhashya. He is saying the objects in waking are real but
> not imaginary objects like the dream objects.

This is a topic that is quite commonly misunderstood by many.  There have
been extensive discussions on this topic in the Advaitin List when one
(westerner) member would repeatedly bring up this question.  It was Sri
S.N.Sastri ji who provided a crisp answer (I am saying this in my own

// In the Brahmasutra bhashya context Shankara has highlighted the
'differences between dream and waking.'  However, in the G.KArikA context
Shankara has highlighted the similarities between the two states.'  Hence
there is no room for the mistaken idea that Shankara is differing from
Gaudapada or that He is contradicting Himself.  If one carefully reads the
two commentaries with the context in mind one will be able to come out of
this confusion.  //

Here is a sample passage from Shankara's BSB ( ('सूचकस्य हि
श्रुतेराचक्षते च तद्विदः’) -

After bringing out the specific characteristics of the dream state,
Shankara says this:

पारमार्थिकस्तु नायं संध्याश्रयः सर्गो वियदादिसर्गवदित्येतावत्प्रतिपाद्यते   ।
*नच वियदादिसर्गस्याप्यात्यन्तिकं सत्यत्वमस्ति*   ।

प्रतिपादितं हिऽतदनन्यत्वमारम्भणशब्दादिभ्यःऽ (ब्र. सू. २.१.१४) इत्यत्र *समस्तस्य
प्रपञ्चस्य मायामात्रत्वम्*  ।

प्राक्तु ब्रह्मात्मत्वदर्शनाद्वियदादिप्रपञ्चो व्यवस्थितरूपो भवति  ।

//But what we want to show is only this much that in truth, this creation
in dream is not of the same order of reality as the creation of space etc.
*And yet the creation of space etc. also has no absolute reality; *for
under the aphorism, 'The effect is non-different from the cause since terms
like 'origin' etc. are met with' (BS 2.1.14), *we showed that the whole
creation is but mAyA.*  But before the realization of the identity of the
Self with Brahman, creation counting from space etc.m continues just as it
is, whereas the creation within dream is abrogated every day. //

Nothing more need to said after Shankara has said the ultimate word.
Everyone who says anything different from the above can easily be placed
under the 'asamprAdayavit' category and not listened to.


> Kindly see the Journal of Indian Philosophy June 1996  paper by Srinivasa
> Rao-
> 'It is universally agreed, at least among all the Advaitic writers,
> that the empirical world is Mithya, a product of Maya and is also
> Sadasadvilaksana, i.e. the world is basically different in nature from
> the Sat-cit-ananda Brahma. This thesis is at best a post Sankarite
> myth, because, as far as the basic nature of the world is concerned, it is
> not different from that of Brahman according to Sankara. This point will be
> argued mainly on the basis of the Sankara's Brahmasutrabhasya, although it
> can also be heavily corroborated from other major works of Sankara like his
> Bhasyas on the major Upanisads.'
> Descendants of Sankara are basically saying this. Brahman is the base for
> Maya. This Maya is the cause for the World. Maya is the material cause. But
> Sankara Siddhanta is not saying this.
> There is no place for Maya in Advaita but only use may be to confuse
> others in arguments. It is not necessary for serious study of Advaita.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list