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Que. : What is Maya? How can we, rid ourselves from Maya?
Bhagwan Ram has succinctly explained the word Maya in the Ramcharitmanas.

’Mai aru mor tor te maya’

Differentiating between oneself and others is Maya. Maya and attachment are concomitant. Where there is Maya there is attachment. This attachment gives rise to identifying the self and others with external objects. This differentiation gives rise to our ego and is caused by the ignorance of the true self.

This ignorance occurs where there is Dvaita, the philosophy that believes in the duality of truth. Dvaita is false knowledge. It is deluding and gives rise to attachment and aversion. Dvaita causes unhappiness.

Lord Krishna himself has explained how to transcend Maya in the Bhagavad Gita,

’Mamev ye prapadyante, mayametam taranti te’

Those who seek refuge in me conquer Maya.

Seeking refuge in God means obeying His teachings. This is the easiest way and in accordance with the Bhakti Marg, the philosophy that believes that salvation can be achieved through pure devotion to God. The path of devotion admits attachment, but it is directed towards God. An intense longing to be one with God is Tivra Bhakti, or intense devotion. This intense longing for oneness with God enables the devotee to leave behind all worldly attachments, which are the root cause of misery. This attachment for God may cause the misery of separation in the devotee's heart. But such misery is far superior to the greatest of worldly pleasures.

Wisdom tells us that worldly attachments are bound to end in pain, as separation from the object of attachment is inevitable. Death will split us from our loved ones and cause us untold grief.

The love for God is divine love and is known as Bhakti. The attachment to God is constant and cannot be torn asunder. In the path of devotion even ‘Viyoga,’ or separation, implies ‘Vishishta Yoga’, a special connection with the Lord.

We can reduce our worldly attachments by listening to the tales of Divine Glory and His deep compassion for all His children. Our temporal attachment may be converted to a higher love of God. That is Bhakti.

Maya does not linger in the presence of true Bhakti. Hence we should all strive to attain the Divine Grace of God, and rid ourselves of Maya.
 
Que. : When people trouble each other in one birth and they keep coming back to settle their scores, how does this chain break?
After a human birth do we get a human birth only or any other too?

The answer is simple. When a person gives up his enmity, the desire for revenge and settling scores vanishes, the chain is broken. Hence one should be forgiving in life.

Saints tell us that sin is caused by lust and that ignorance is the cause of lust. As long as there is lust, the cycle of birth and death is unending. In order to get rid of lust we need to get rid of ignorance. And the dusk of ignorance is conquered by the dawn of knowledge.

Knowledge manifests by the grace of a Sadguru, a true preceptor. When all our Karmas are destroyed by the fire of true knowledge, the cycle of births is destroyed and there are no more rebirths.

Just as a burnt seed does not sprout even when sowed in fertile soil, the votary whose desires and Karmas have been burnt in the flame of knowledge is liberated from the cycle of birth and death.

The Hindu Dharma believes in rebirth. According to the scriptures; just as we discard old clothes and wear new ones; our soul leaves the old and aged body to take rebirth in a new body.

Please note that we wear clothes, the clothes don't wear us. Similarly, the soul dons the body and not vice-versa. Just as I exist even after I discard my clothes, the soul exists even after having left the body. The soul never dies. It lives before donning a body; it lives in a body and continues to live after it departs from the body. The body takes birth and dies, as it is temporal. The soul is eternal. It will never take birth and never die. It will always exist.

After death the soul takes on a new body in accordance with its destiny or past Karmas or as per its psychic state at the time of death. Just as King Bharat was reborn as a deer because of his attachment to a deer at the time of his death, and Nrigraj was reborn as a python.
 
Que. : Why did God create us? When and why was this drop (Atma) separated from the Sea (Parmatma)?
There are many different opinions about the creation of the universe. Shunyavad, Aarambhvaad etc. According to Vaishnavism and Shrimad Bhagwat in the beginning there was only one Brahman and no other entity. It wished (willed) to become many. "Ekoham bahusyaam." I am one, let me be many. Brahman took up many forms, which we know today as this universe. Thus by God's will alone, this universe is created, sustained and dissolved in the end.

"Yato vaa imani bhutaani jaayante
Yena jaataani jeevanti,
Yat prayantyabhisamvishanti
Tat vijigyasasva Tad Brahma."


That, by which all these creatures and inanimate objects are created, by whom all living creatures are created, all beings sustained and in whom everything gets dissolved, develop a wish to know that. That alone is Brahma.

Plato too says, "Before an object is created, its thought is born." Before a table is made, its thought or idea takes shape in the carpenters mind. Hence the universe begins with its thought. It also means that with the end of thought the universe also ends. Hence if you attain a state of thoughtlessness, or Samaadhi, your world gets dissolved or submerged. Hence in our scriptures, this state of thoughtlessness or samaadhi is described as being a kind of Pralaya.
 
Que. : If this is an illusion (maya), then when and why this "maya" entered, in the mind of the first soul that got separated from the almighty?
Ramacharit maanas says "Ishwar ansha jeeva avinaashi", and Bhagwad Geeta says "Maamaivansho jeeva loke". God is the whole or Anshi and jeeva is the part or ansha. Jeeva became ignorant and because of that ignorance it got separated from God. But why did the soul become ignorant? Because it felt that it was separate from God, another individual consciousness. And why did it think it was separate from God? Because of ignorance. Therefore both mean the same thing.

So the fundamental question is why and when did the jeeva become ignorant? There are many questions, to which we have no answers. Saints answer such questions by simply saying, "It is God's will." If there is a fire, it is a fact then questions like how did it start, why and when become unimportant. What is important is there is a fire, which can burn down everything to ashes. Hence do not ask questions but get busy with actions that will extinguish the fire.

Similarly get busy with efforts of uplifting yourself from the state of ignorance. As soon as the flame of knowledge is kindled within, either by satsang or by a sadguru, the darkness of ignorance will vanish and you will be united with that 'Parabrahma' (Ultimate Being). "Jeevo Brahaiva naaparah" i.e. Jeeva itself is Brahma, not separate from it. You will experience "Aham Brahmaasmi." "I am Brahma."

Because of the ignorance of the soul, the feeling of being a separate jeeva developed in it and it got separated from Brahma. Here an illusion is created that the jeeva has acted (separated), while really speaking it is the Brahma that has acted and manifested itself into many jeeva. It attained a gross form. It saw and was seen by others. It ate and gave others to eat. It played. All this is called Lord's leela. There can be no question as to which jeeva separated first? When? etc. because God himself willed and took up many different forms. So there can be no question about first and latter.

But if the jeeva believes God's leela to be his own actions, then it gets trapped in the cycle of birth and death. This is maya or the illusion.

Maya is like a shadow. The jeeva perceives the shadow of its ego in the light of God and that is maya. As soon as the ego disappears maya does not remain.
 
Que. : Does our separate soul identity remain when we merge in Parmatma? And how?
When the drop merges with the sea where does the separate identity remain? When a gyani establishes his consciousness in Brahmabhava or the supreme consciousness only his body continues to function as a separate entity, and performs its natural functions till its death. All this is God's leela. But it is not possible for everyone to remain continuously established in Brahmabhava. Adi Shankaracharyaji says "To experience the absolute union of one's soul with Brahma is itself it Brahmasakshatkar i.e. Realisation of the Supreme Being."
 
Que. : What is the ultimate goal of God in creating all this and infinite universes? Why does he not liberate all the souls in himself and relax. Why all this maya?
God's will to play i.e. God's leela is the basis of creation of this universe. Hence there is nothing like the ultimate Goal. Just as children love to play on the seaside, build castles on the beach, break them down while going home with their parents, similarly this universe is the playground of God. Every thing happens as per his will. And there will be a time when he himself will dissolve everything in his own entity. And just as we go to sleep and the world does not exist in our deep sleep, we do not feel any happiness or pain, joy or sorrow, nothing exists for us during that period, similarly the Supreme Being also reposes in its ultimate joyful nature.
 
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