Gods + Goddesses - Get to Know Maya

Maya - the Goddess of Illusions and Dreams

Who is Maya?

Wikipedia: Maya or Māyā (Sanskrit माया māyā), literally means "illusion" and "magic." However, the term has multiple meanings depending on the context. In earlier older language, it literally implies extraordinary power and wisdom, in later Vedic texts and modern literature dedicated to Indian traditions, Māyā connotes a "magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem." In Indian philosophies, Māyā is also a spiritual concept connoting "that which exists, but is constantly changing and thus is spiritually unreal", and the "power or the principle that conceals the true character of spiritual reality."

In Buddhism, Maya was the name of Gautama Buddha's mother. Maya is also the name of a manifestation of Lakshmi, the goddess of "wealth, prosperity and love," in Hinduism. For these reasons, it is a popular name for girls.

Name Meaning: 

Maya is a feminine name with multiple meanings. In Hindu philosophy, Māyā means "illusion" and in Hindu mythology, it is also an alternate name of the Hindu goddess Durga. According to tradition, Queen Māyā of Sakya was also the name of the mother of Siddartha Gautama, the Buddha.

Maya is a feminine name with multiple meanings among various cultures. Maya means “illusion” in Hindu mythology and is an alternative name for Durga. According to tradition, Queen Māyā of Sakya was also the name of the mother of Siddartha Gautama, the Buddha.

The word comes from a Proto-Indo-Iranian language *māyā, cognate to Avestan māyā with an approximate meaning of "miraculous force,” from a root may- "exchange", or from a root mā- "measure.”

According to Monier Williams, Māyā meant wisdom and extraordinary power in an earlier older language, but from Vedic period onwards, the word came to mean "illusion, unreality, deception, fraud, trick, sorcery, witchcraft and magic.” 

Words related to and containing Māyā, such as Mayava, occur many times in the Vedas. The name Maya has various meanings.

In the Upanishads, Maya pre-exists and co-exists with Brahman – the Ultimate Principle, Consciousness.Shea is perceived reality, one that does not reveal the hidden principles, the true reality. Maya is unconscious, Atman is conscious. Maya is the literal, Brahman is the figurative Upādāna – the principle, the cause. Maya is born, changes, evolves, dies with time, from circumstances, due to invisible principles of nature, state the Upanishads

Who Worships the Goddess: 

Schools of Hinduism based on naturalism (Vaiśeṣika), rationalism (Samkhya) or ritualism (Mimamsa), questioned and debated what is Maya, and the need to understand Maya. The Vedanta and Yoga schools explained that the realization of knowledge requires both the understanding of ignorance, doubts and errors, as well as the understanding of invisible principles, incorporeal and the eternal truths.

The need to understand Maya is like the metaphorical need for road. The idea is that we are bound is only an illusion [Maya].

In that sense, people do not worship Maya like they would another goddess, but debating Maya allows them to explore themselves and their relationship to illusion.

Fun Fact:

In Buddhist Tantra, when the practitioner completes a stage, he takes on the form of a deity in an illusory body (māyādeha), which is like the magician's illusion. It is made of wind, or prana, and is called illusory because it appears only to other yogis who have also attained the illusory body. The illusory body has the markings and signs of a Buddha. There is an impure and a pure illusory body, depending on the stage of the yogi's practice.