4 Mar 2012 - QA 10

Guruji, all the scriptures proclaim that the appearance of this world is the handiwork of Maya. But Vedanta says it is of ignorance. How can the two statements be reconciled?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:

There are two meaning for Maya.
First of all, Maya means that which you cannot catch.
There is another meaning for Maya – that which could be measured.
The English word ‘measure’ comes from ‘miyate’. ‘Miya’ means to measure. So this entire creation can be measured. That is why it is called Maya.
What cannot be measured is truth, love, beauty. You can’t say I have three kilos of love or two ounces of beauty or ten kilos of truth. You can’t measure them. So this is the immeasurable, i.e., Non-Maya.
The Divine is that which cannot be measured. The Self cannot be measured. Consciousness cannot be measured. But what could be measured is matter and that is what is Maya.

Now, ignorance is in the perception. You thinking that the Sun is setting is ignorance, because the Sun is not setting. It is the Earth that is rotating.
Earth is rotating – this is knowledge. The perception that Sun is setting and Earth is not rotating is ignorance.
Different people think differently and so it seems that they are all different people. This is one level of understanding. But the ultimate truth is – it is one consciousness which is in everybody. This is knowledge.
If you turn back and see most of your judgments, you will find they were all erroneous.
How many of you have had this experience?
You had a judgment and a little later you thought, ‘Oh no, that is not the case.’
You thought something else than what it was. This is what ‘agyan’ (ignorance) is. Most of the times what you think will happen doesn’t happen at all.

If you tape all these election exit poll forecasts, with all these people and all that they say. Two days later, after counting, when you rewind and watch it all again, you will feel, ‘My God! So many man hours are wasted in ignorance.’
Someone with any intuition would say – it is this person who is going to win. But all the speculation which goes on in all the channels between the election and the results and the hours and hours of discussion, you will find it to be utter ignorance.
Because you really don’t know that is why you are just speculating, guessing and giving your own theories. It is so funny!