How exactly does Maya help to explain Brahman?

Expert Answers
ophelious eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some questions are easy to answer but hard to understand.  I think of this question as being "hard to answer and hard to understand."  But that's the way a lot of religious teachings are.  They are supposed to remind us that as human beings we need to be humble as we're not as clever as we often think that we are.

In Hinduism, Brahman is sort of like the Christian God.  It is the originator of everything.  It is the real thing that exists outside of time and space.  It is both beyond humans and reflective of their characters. Brahman is the creator of the universe and the pillar that supports it.  Depending on the tradition, it either has some human characteristics or does not.  According to Hinduism, we are all part of Brahman though we don't fully realize it.

Maya is in charge of "veiling" the truth (that being the fact that everyone is part of Brahman.)  It separates humans from Brahman in the way a piece of cloth can cover an object.  It is real in that we perceive it to be real, but only Brahman is actually real.  The goal of people is to figure out a way to poke a hole in the fabric of Maya and see the truth of Brahman.

Think of it like a dark room you see rope and think it's a snake.  You are convinced it is a snake and your senses confirm this.  Therefore, to you, it is a real snake. But turn the lights on and you see it's just a rope.  That it really was a rope all along. That's how Maya creates a sort of false reality around Brahman.

Maya is generally considered a negative thing.  It keeps people from knowing the truth.  In some way it corresponds to the Christian devil in that it keeps people from true spiritual connection.  But in the same way that Satan is ultimately a product of God himself, Maya is a product of Brahman (as Brahman is responsible for everything.)

It's an interesting situation, a little hard to understand, but that's about it.

smartipi | Student

The Brahman is a spiritual god, and the Hindus want to reunite with the Brahman which is the purpose of the religion.