Besides SankAra VedAnta, KashmIrI Shaivism, which is another monist/advaita school of Hinduism too talks about MAyA. According to it, the basic definition of MAyA is -
मियते अनय इती माया।
Meaning: That power by which experience is experienced in a particular way is MAyA.
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.
MAyA 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 MAyA Tattva & the cause of MAyA. But certain points are to kept in the mind -
MAyA is the power of Brahman. Therefore, MAyA is controlled by Brahman. There is no separate existence of MAyA.
MAyA draws veil in the experience but doesn't create an experience of inexistence. In simple words, through MAyA 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 MAyA which are covering. It is like what happens the moment Brahman wears goggles ( MAyA Tattva ). How Brahman's experience changes (Short summary)?
- KalA - Brahman starts feeling it² doesn't owe everything.
- VidyA - Brahman starts feeling it doesn't know everything. It forgets its omniscience.
- RAga- Brahman forgets it's all satisfactory nature & thus develops desires. In other words, Brahman forgets its completeness.
- KAla - Brahman forgets its timelessness or eternity & see eternity as past, present & future.
- NiyatI- Brahman forgets the freedom of pervasiveness (vyApaktA).
Thus, herein all about MAyA explained according to KashmIrI Shaivism. Now, I'm interested to know similar explanation on MAyA according to Sankara VedAnta.
What is MAyA? Basic definition? It's role? It's products?
From where MAyA comes?
What are its characteristics?
How can it independently exist outside Brahman?
1-- In KashmIrI Shaivism, Brahman is not passive unlike Sankara Vedanta. Brahman is active here. It's nature is prakAshvimarSaya. In short, PrakAsh is Siva & VimarSa is SaktI. 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 MAyA is briefly explained but I wanted a detailed answer.