From the Gods to the Supreme Godhead

The mystery of the divine Maya is reviewed by Sri Aurobindo as he explores the relationship between the higher nature of the Divine and the existence and action of the lower Nature. Maya does not imply something purely illusory, but rather, something that is real, but experienced in such a way that we do not perceive or understand the ultimate Truth behind it. Sri Aurobindo describes it: “It is a cosmic veil which the Godhead has spun around our understanding; Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra have woven its complex threads; the Shakti, the Supreme Nature is there at is base and is hidden in its every tissue.”

The gods work through the interplay of the three Gunas, Rajas, Sattwa and Tamas (which correspond ultimately to the primary quality of the triple gods of creation, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (Rudra), in their character as Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer of the manifested worlds.

The spiritual path of realisation is intended to help the seeker come to a new vision, standpoint and framework that is no longer bound to the limited and illusory view based in the mental consciousness. Rather than seeing the earth at the center of the universe, and the individual ego at the center of creation, the realised Soul comes to recognise that these limited mental structures only see a very small portion of the creation at any time and tend to misinterpret them. The story of the blind men trying to describe the elephant is often used to illustrate the illusion of the mental framework. Depending on which part of the elephant they touched, the blind men had a totally different interpretation.

It is only when one sees and experiences the vision of the Whole, of Oneness, that one can escape this limitation of what we call Maya, which is itself part and parcel a divine Reality. Sri Aurobindo describes the procedure generally: “We have to work out this web in ourselves and turn through it and from it leaving it behind us when its use is finished, turn from the gods to the original and supreme Godhead in whom we shall discover at the same time the last sense of the gods and their works and the inmost spiritual verities of our own imperishable existence.”

“To Me who turn and come, they alone cross over beyond this Maya.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 1, The Two Natures, pg. 264