Brahman, Maya and Soul (Jivatman)
by Swami Sivananda
Whatever is, is in reality One. There truly exists only one Universal Being, called Brahman or Paramatman, the Highest Self. This Being is of an absolutely homogenous nature (Eka-rasa). It is pure 'Being', or which comes to the same, pure intelligence-(Chaitanya Jnana). Intelligence is not to be predicated of Brahman as its attribute but it constitutes its substance (essence or Svaroopa). He is absolutely destitute of qualities. Whatever qualities or attributes are conceivable, can only be denied of it.
But if nothing exists but one absolutely simple ‘Being’, whence the appearance of the world, by which we see ourselves surrounded, in which we ourselves exist, as individual beings? Brahman is associated with a certain power called Maya, to which the appearance of this entire world is due.
The non-enlightened soul(Jivatman) is unable to look through and beyond Maya, which like a veil, hides from its true nature. Instead of recognizing itself to be Brahman, it blindly identifies itself with its adjuncts (Upadhis: 3 bodies or 5 koshas), the fictitious offsprings of Maya, and thus looks for its true self in the body, the sense-organs, and the internal organs (Antahkarana, or mind, the organ of specific cognition).
The soul (Jivatman), which in reality, is pure intelligence (Chaitanya), non-active (Nishkriya) and infinite (Bhuma), thus becomes limited in knowledge and power, an agent and an enjoyer. Through its actions it burdens itself with merit and demerit, the consequences of which it has to bear or enjoy in series of future embodied existences.
How deep, unfathomable and marvelous is this Maya, the inscrutable power of Brahman! Every human being, though really in essence he is Brahman, does not, though instructed, grasp the Truth 'I am Brahman', but feels convinced, without any instruction that he is such a person's son, mistaking for the pure Atman (Brahman, True Self), the combination of the body and the senses, etc., which is not the Atman and is only perceived like a stone or a pot. Indeed, these worldly-minded persons wander in this miserable Samsara repeatedly deluded by Maya of Brahman alone.
But the wise man with the 4 means of salvation hears the Srutis, reflects and meditates on the meaning of the Mahavakyas: “Aham-Brahma-Asmi” or “Tat-Tvam-Asi” and eventually gets established on Advaita Brahman (Kaivalya-Nishta). He becomes a Jivanmukta (Liberated Soul) and crosses beyond the ocean of Samsara.
Hail! Hail! to such Jivanmuktas. May their blessings be upon you all.
Om! Om! Om!