We start with the basic assumption that Maya is all that we see, our perspective on reality, and that includes the jiva and the Prakriti as well.

  • Do the Upanishads provide any insights into why should this illusory be logical at the same time
  • Why 2+2 will always be 4 and why simple mechanical laws are ubiquitous & that nature will never violate them? This may have something to do with the karmic model that without a karana no result can happen.
  • Logic seems to be the bridge between cause and effect. But could it not have been otherwise?

In other words couldn't Maya simply act in random ways so that somethings would never happen however logical it might seem: For example let's assume maya is of the mischievous kind and whenever I try to pour me a glass of water, she refuses to let the water fall under the influence of gravity exclusively for me, but not for everybody else, indicating a grudge with me. I know for a fact that this is far from how nature is built. Even if we might have different perspectives on the same matter, nature does allow for the existence of objective properties over which science and rationality stand. Nature, however chaotic she might be, always provides a logical causal chain for everything we observe, no matter how convoluted and it didn't have to be that way necessarily.

  • Maya is not illusion. Its wrong word translation. Dec 13 '19 at 14:24
  • Maya is controlled by Ishwara/saguNa brahman. Therefore, nature obeys laws of physics.
    – user16581
    Dec 13 '19 at 15:23
  • 1
    Different theories being propagated by different schools of thought will finally land one in a confused State. Better to stick to one school of thought and keep on practising that method and leave it to the God for further guidance. @Weezy Dec 13 '19 at 16:38
  • The concept of Maya according to Advaitins is illogical. They say maya is "inexplicable", which means it neither exists nor doesn't exist. Anyways, the word "maya" has different meanings throughout scripture. In the Shvetashvara Upanishad, it means Prakriti. In other places, it means the creative power of Brahman, etc. In some places, illusion.
    – Ikshvaku
    Dec 14 '19 at 16:32
  • @Ikshvaku I think if we strictly follow the upanishad/gItA statements, then we end up with "illogical" mAyA. I know you will not agree.
    – user16581
    Dec 14 '19 at 19:47

It seems you are equating the definition of Maya as Illusion with scientific anomalies. A mirage in a desert is an illusion but it is perfectly scientific and logical phenomena.

We all know that vedic scriptures are meant to lead one to realize our original self, atman which is our constitutional position. So the vedic scriptures are manifested from this point of view - the point of view of Atman/Soul/Spiritual so if you look from that angle for a Soul this material world is temporary or dream-like and hence its not reality or real position for the Soul so therefore its like a mirage or illusion.

To make it more clear, Soul does not need food to survive but when it identifies with the body it has a need to eat, it suffers pangs of hunger but in actuality its not at all required for the soul but due to its being disillusioned it thinks food to be essential. So for the individual soul this is Maya or illusion.

Some might argue that Maya does not mean illusion but many places it does mean "illusion" and other places it can mean "illusory energy" or "the energy that covers" or "that which is not" (will post some references for these definition shortly. kindly pardon)

So "Maya" being a person as you mention in your question is a perfect servant of the Lord, so she does not deviate from the Lord's plan and hence does not act whimsically though she is capable of modifying physical laws which are anyways relative (think quantum realm)

Hope this helps clear some things.


By 'logical' you mean by your reasoning. Your 'logic' may be another man's illogic. All human reasoning is bound within Maya. If Maya was illogical, do you think you would be able to perceive the illogic? Being within Maya, Maya's illogic would appear to you as logical. Brahma Sutra 2.1.11. reads (https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/brahma-sutras):

Sutra 2,1.11

तर्काप्रतिष्ठानादपि; अन्यथानुमेयमिति चेत्, एवमप्यनिर्मोक्षप्रसङ्गः ॥ ११ ॥

tarkāpratiṣṭhānādapi; anyathānumeyamiti cet, evamapyanirmokṣaprasaṅgaḥ || 11 ||

tarka-pratiṣṭhānāt—Because reasoning has no sure basis; api—also; anyathā—otherwise; anumeyam—should be inferred or reasoned; iti cet—if it be said; evam—so; api—even; anirmokṣa-prasaṅgaḥ—there will result the contingency of non-release.

  1. Also because reasoning has no sure basis (it cannot upset the conclusions of Vedanta). If it be said that it should be reasoned otherwise (so as to get over this defect), (we say) even so there will result the contingency of non-release (from this defect, with respect to the matter in question).

What one man establishes through reason can be refuted by another more intelligent than he. Even a sage like Kapila is refuted by other sages like Kanada. Hence reasoning having no sure basis cannot upset the conclusions of Vedanta, which are based on the Srutis. But, says the opponent, even this judgment about reasoning is arrived at through reasoning; so it is not true that reasoning has never a sure basis. Sometimes it is perfectly sound. Only we must reason properly. The latter part of the Sutra says that even though in some cases reasoning is infallible, yet with respect to the matter in hand it cannot transcend this defect. For the cause of the world (Brahman) is beyond the senses and has no characteristic signs. It cannot therefore be an object of perception, or of inference, which is based on perception. Or again if we take ‘release’ in the Sutra to mean Liberation, it comes to this: True knowledge of a real thing depends on the thing itself, and therefore it is always uniform. Hence a conflict of views with respect to it is not possible. But the conclusions of reasoning can never be uniform. The Sankhyas arrive through reasoning at the Pradhana as the First Cause, while the Naiyayikas (logicians) mention Paramanus (atoms) as that. Which to accept? So no conclusion can be arrived at through reasoning independent of the scriptures, and since the truth cannot be known through this means, there will be no Liberation. Therefore reasoning which goes against the scriptures is no proof of knowledge and cannot contradict the Sruti texts.

Shankara says in his Vivekacudamani (here - https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/vivekachudamani):

  1. All this universe which through ignorance appears as of diverse forms, is nothing else but Brahman which is absolutely free from all the limitations of human thought.

[Free...-We imagine all sorts of things through ignorance, but Brahman is ever beyond them, and is the only reality]

  1. A jar, though a modification of clay, is not different from it; everywhere the jar is essentially the same as the clay. Why then call it a jar ? It is fictitious, a fancied name merely.

[Fictitious......—Quoted in sense from the Chhandogya Upanishad, Ch. VI.I.4]

  1. None can demonstrate that the essence of a jar is something other than the clay (of which it is made). Hence the jar is merely imagined (as separate) through delusion, and the component clay alone is the abiding reality in respect of it.

  2. Similarly, the whole universe, being the effect of the real Brahman, is in reality nothing but Brahman. Its essence is That, and it does not exist apart from It. He who says it does is still under delusion – he babbles like one asleep.

[Like...—that is, incoherently.]

  1. This universe is verily Brahman – such is the august pronouncement of the Atharva Veda. Therefore this universe is nothing but Brahman, for that which is superimposed (on something) has no separate existence from its substratum.

[The reference is to Mundaka (II. ii. II), which is one of the Upanishads belonging to the Atharva Veda.]

  1. If the universe, as it is, be real, there would be no cessation of the dualistic element, the scriptures would be falsified, and the Lord Himself would be guilty of an untruth. None of these three is considered either desirable or wholesome by the noble- minded.

[No cessation.......element—The world as it is would become real, and as such could never be destroyed. Hence the duality with all its ugly features would persist.

Scriptures......falsified—According to staunch Advaitins the numerous Advaitic texts of the Srutis, inculcating the highest philosophic thought, are alone considered as bearing out the true import of the Srutis, to which the rest of the Vedas must be subordinated.

The Lord etc.— being the Revealer of the truths of the Srutis. Or the allusion may be to Sri Krishna’s words in the Gita quoted in the next verse.]

  1. The Lord, who knows the secret of all things has supported this view in the words: "But I am not in them" … "nor are the beings in Me".

[Who knows &c.—Because He is Omniscient. “But I am not etc.”—The reference is to the 4th and 5th Slokas of the 9th chapter of the Gita which declare that all existence owes its being to Brahman which is its substratum, yet Absolute.]

  1. If the universe be true, let it then be perceived in the state of deep sleep also. As it is not at all perceived, it must be unreal and false, like dreams.

  2. Therefore the universe does not exist apart from the Supreme Self; and the perception of its separateness is false like the qualities (of blueness etc., in the sky). Has a superimposed attribute any meaning apart from its substratum ? It is the substratum which appears like that through delusion.

[Qualities of blueness etc.—See Sloka 185.

It is the substratum...A rope appears as a snake. This idea is made clear in the next few Slokas.]

  1. Whatever a deluded man perceives through mistake, is Brahman and Brahman alone: The silver is nothing but the mother-of-pearl. It is Brahman which is always considered as this universe, whereas that which is superimposed on the Brahman, viz. the universe, is merely a name.

237-238. Hence whatever is manifested, viz. this universe, is the Supreme Brahman Itself, the Real, the One without a second, pure, the Essence of Knowledge, taintless, serene, devoid of beginning and end, beyond activity, the Essence of Bliss Absolute – transcending all the diversities created by Māyā or Nescience, eternal, ever beyond the reach of pain, indivisible, immeasurable, formless, undifferentiated, nameless, immutable, self-luminous.

Logical causal chains only exist within, and can only be observed within, Nature...or Maya. As you as an observer are within the realm of Maya, all your knowledge of the universe comes through your senses, it will always appear logical. Nature is Brahman - misperceived through the veil of time, space, and causation. Brahman is beyond the sensual universe, It cannot be perceived or argued for or against within the sensual universe as it is beyond it. Your question 'why' can only be asked within Maya, there are no questions beyond Maya.

For a much more detailed argument see Gaudapada's Karika, Chapter 4 of the Mandukya Upanishad. Here - https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/mandukya-upanishad-karika-bhashya

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