Besides Śaṃkara Vedānta, Kaśmīri Śaivism, which is another monist/advaita school of Hinduism too talks about Māyā. According to it, the basic definition of Māyā is -
मियते अनय इती माया।
Meaning: That power by which experience is experienced in a particular way is Māyā.
In other words, that power which makes experience measurable, i.e limited & separates the 'this' from 'I' & 'I' from 'this' & excludes things from one another is Māyā.
Māyā draws a veil on the self, causes sense of duality. In simple words, Brahman¹ put goggles to see his own grandeur to see himself. These goggles are what Māyā Tattva & the cause of Māyā. But certain points are to kept in the mind -
Māyā is the power of Brahman. Therefore, Māyā is controlled by Brahman. There is no separate existence of Māyā .
Māyā draws veil in the experience but doesn't create an experience of inexistence. In simple words, through Māyā whatever is being perceived is actually present in Brahman it is just that our perception is limited which is not allowing ourselves to see divinity in the perceived objects. ( Perfect explanation of "All that is Brahman alone"). Maya is not creating perception of something which is not present in Brahman in any form!
Also, there are 5 products of Māyā which are covering. It is like what happens the moment Brahman wears goggles ( Māyā Tattva ). How Brahman's experience changes (Short summary)?
- Kalā - Brahman starts feeling it² doesn't owe everything.
- Vidyā - Brahman starts feeling it doesn't know everything. It forgets its omniscience.
- Rāga - Brahman forgets it's all satisfactory nature & thus develops desires. In other words, Brahman forgets its completeness.
- Kāla - Brahman forgets its timelessness or eternity & see eternity as past, present & future.
- Niyatī - Brahman forgets the freedom of pervasiveness (vyApaktA).
Thus, herein all about Māyā explained according to Kaśmīri Śaivism. Now, I'm interested to know similar explanation on Māyā according to Śaṃkara Vedānta.
What is Māyā? Basic definition? It's role? It's products?
From where Māyā comes?
What are its characteristics?
How can it independently exist outside Brahman?
1-- In Kaśmīri Śaivism, Brahman is not passive unlike Śaṃkara Vedānta. Brahman is active here. It's nature is Prakāśavimarśaya. In short, Prakāśa is Siva & vimarśaya is Śaktī. Brahman thus here has capability to create, maintain & withdraw the universe & there is nothing existing outside Brahman.
2- such pronoun is used as Brahman transcends gender.
Note- here Māyā is briefly explained but I wanted a detailed answer.