The idea of Maya pervades Indian philosophy. It is enigmatic, multivalent, and foundational, with its oldest referents found in the Rig Veda. Maya in the Bhagavata Purana: Human Suffering and Divine Play (Oxford UP, 2020) explores Maya's rich conceptual history, and then focuses on the highly developed theology of Maya found in the Sanskrit Bhagavata Purana, one of the most important Hindu sacred texts. Gopal K. Gupta examines Maya's role in the Bhagavata's narratives, paying special attention to its relationship with other key concepts in the text, such as human suffering (duhkha), devotion (bhakti), and divine play (lila). In the Bhagavata, Maya is often identified as the divine feminine, and has a far-reaching influence. For example, Maya is both the world and the means by which God creates the world, as well as the facilitator of God's play, paradoxically revealing him to his devotees by concealing his majesty. While Vedanta philosophy typically sees Maya as a negative force, the Bhagavata affirms that Maya also has a positive role, as Maya is ultimately meant to draw living beings toward Krishna and intensify their devotion to him.
Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.