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What Is Maya In Hinduism?

What is Maya in Hinduism? - Swami Vivekananda narrates an incident in the life of Sage Narada and Sri Krishna to explain the concept.

A legend tells how once Sage Narada said to Krishna, “Lord, show me Maya.” A few days passed, and Krishna asked Narada to make a trip with Him toward a forest. After walking several miles, Krishna said, “Narada, I am thirsty; can you fetch some water for Me?” “I will go at once, and get you water.” So Narada went.

At a little distance there was a village. He entered the village in search of water and knocked at a door, which was opened by a beautiful young girl. At the sight of her, Narada immediately forgot that Krishna was waiting for water.

He forgot everything and began to talk with the girl. Gradually that talk ripened into love. He asked the father for his daughter, and they were married and lived there and had children. Thus twelve years passed. His father-in-law died; he inherited his property.

Then came a flood. The river rose until it overflowed its banks and flooded the whole village. Houses fell, people and animals were swept away and drowned, and everything was floating in the rush of the stream.

Narada had to escape. With one hand he held his wife, and with the other, two of his children; another child was on his shoulders and he was trying to ford this tremendous flood. After a few steps he found that the current was too strong, and the child on his shoulders fell and was swept away. In trying to save that child, he lost his grip upon the others, and they also were lost. At last his wife, whom he clasped with all his might, was torn away by the current, and he was thrown on the bank, weeping and wailing in bitter lamentation.

Suddenly he heard a voice, - Where is the water? I have been waiting for you. You have been gone for half an hour.

“Half an hour!” Narada exclaimed. Twelve whole years had passed through his mind, and all these scenes had happened in half an hour! This is Maya. And in one form or another, we are all in it.

Symbolically – Narada moving away from Krishna is like we moving away the Supreme Truth and getting entangled in fleeting pleasures. Trying to solve the puzzle of happiness – when we are pure bliss.

As told by Swami Vivekananda