Aditya, Wednesday, February 8, 2017 3:04 am

Brahman, Maya & the Creation of the Universe

Who are you? You are Consciousness, the Vedas reveal to us ( Consciousness can be viewed from 2 standpoints: (1) Your individual body; (2) The total universe. When Consciousness is viewed from the perspective of (1), it is called ‘Atma’. When the exact same Consciousness is viewed from the perspective of (2) it is called ‘Brahman’. So ‘Atma and Brahman’ refer to exactly the same consciousness. They are synonyms.

The only difference between (1) and (2) is the standpoint from which we analyse Consciousness. (1) analyses you as an individual (vyasthi) being, with a body and mind. This is why the Vedas present various models of the individual such as the 3 bodies, 5 sheaths, 3 states. All these models analyse you as an individual. But is that enough to explain the reality? Do these models account for the rest of the universe including all the other people, animals, plants, mountains, oceans, planets, stars, space and time? Do these models explain where this universe came from? No. Therefore, the Vedas go on to brilliantly and logically answer these important questions about the creation of the universe.  So we now have a new topic concerned with the total universe (samasthi), its creation and its reality. This topic is concerned with the big universe (samasthi), rather than the small individual (vyasthi) seen before. In fact, do you know what the word for ‘very very big’ is in Sanskrit? Brahman. Brahman means big, because consciousness pervades the entire universe. So Brahman is a word for Consciousness. We will now look into this big topic of the creation of the universe (sristhi vichara)…

So, where did this universe come from? The Vedas explain there are 2 things required for this universe to be created:

(a)   Brahman

Because Brahman is all pervading consciousness (cit), it must be present in the universe. Also, because Brahman is eternal (sat), it must exist in the past, present and future – so was Brahman there before (in the past) the Universe was created? Well, yes it must have been, else we cannot call it eternal. It’s like asking: did the clay exist before the pot was created? Yes, of course it did. So to, Brahman existed before the creation of the universe.

(b)   Maya

What is Maya? Maya is the seed of the entire Universe. Just like a seed of a tree. The entire tree is created from that seed. So to the entire Universe is created out of Maya (the seed). So what exactly does this ‘seed’ which is Maya consist of? Logically it can only consist of 2 things which make up the universe: (i) All the bodies in seed form (the sum of all karana shariras in the universe); (ii) All the inert gross objects in seed form (i.e. the mountains, oceans, planets, etc).

So we now know there were 2 things which must have existed before this Universe was created: (a) Brahman, and (b) Maya. So then what is the difference between Brahman and Maya? There are many very significant differences:








Both exist before the creation of the Universe – this is the main similarity

Consciousness (cetana-tattva)



Maya is inert because all inert objects come from Maya. Brahman is consciousness.





Just as a seed must change to become a tree. So to, Maya changes to become the universe – therefore Maya does change.

Independently Exists (Satyam)

Dependent Existence (Mithya)

Maya depends on Brahman for its existence, therefore it is mithya. Just like a pot depends on clay for its existence. But Brahman does not need Maya to exist hence it is Satyam. Hence, Maya is Brahman, but Brahman is not Maya.

No qualities




Maya has different qualities, whereas Brahman has no qualities

Om Tat Sat


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