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Simple Funny Stories In Hinduism Explaining Maya And Atman

A collection of simply fun stories in Hinduism explaining maya, atman and buddhi by Swami Chetanananda.

In the 1950s I went to see P C Sarkar’s magic show in the New Empire theatre in Calcutta. The magician used a chainsaw to cut a piece of wood. Then he placed a young girl in a wooden box and closed the lid. He used the chainsaw to cut the box in half in front of a thousand spectators. After a few minutes, the girl came through the back door and walked down the aisle, saying, ‘Hi, I am here.’ Now, these one thousand people each bought a ticket paying twenty-five rupees. They knew for certain that the girl would not be cut in half, yet they still spent money to watch this illusion. That is maya and we love to watch it.

My Vedanta teacher told me this story: Aham, the ego, fell in love with Buddhi, the intellect, and they got married. They were having a nice married life, full of fun and excitement. One day Buddhi says to Aham: ‘We are having such a nice time; we should share our joy with the Atman. That poor fellow is sleeping inside.’ Aham replies: My goodness! My sweet honey, don’t rouse the Atman. As soon as it awakens, it will destroy both of us. Let the Atman sleep.’ This is happening to all of us.

My teacher told me another funny story: The world gives pain without being born. A young woman was sleeping alone in her room. Her father was out of town. Meanwhile, a thief entered her room. She became aware of it. She pretended as if she was talking in dream: ‘When I shall get married, I will have three sons, and I will name them Ram, Shyam, and Chor [thief ]. They will play outside. During dinnertime, I shall call them loudly, ‘O Ram, Shyam, Chor!’ Actually, Ram and Shyam were the names of her neighbors. As soon as she shouted out, they came and knocked at her door, and the thief was caught. The thief thought to himself: ‘This woman is not married and has no children; still I have been caught by her neighbors.’ From the absolute point of view, this world does not exist, but we are bound by maya.

My teacher also used the cinema as an analogy to explain this world: Every day many pictures pass through our minds. Similarly, in the movie house, many scenes appear on the screen. You see rain, fire, love scenes, murder scenes, and so on However, the screen does not get wet or burn with the rain and fire; it is unaffected. That screen is the Atman; the projector is the intellect, buddhi; the pictures on the film are desires; and the electric light is maya. That light makes small pictures appear big and vivid on the screen. Similarly, the inscrutable power of maya flashes the subtle desires of the intellect on the Atman, and they thus form various scenes. Like the screen in a movie house, the pure Atman is always unaffected.

Source - Excerpts from ' What Vedanta Means to Me by Swami Chetanananda' - Prabuddha Bharata January 2020 issue.