What is 'Maya' in Hinduism? It's a question with no simple explanation, even though scholars have studied it for ages and identified texts talking about 'maya' in ancient scriptures of Hinduism.

Some believe it's a magical power wielded by God to create the mortal world, while others claim maya is an illusion; the world we live in is actually maya.

Hinduism goes as far as saying humans are trapped in maya or the illusion of the mortal world and only by surrendering oneself to God, will a person attain ultimate liberation, also known as 'moksha'.

If you are finding it difficult to grasp the concept of 'maya', here's a simple story of how Lord Krishna explained 'maya' to his ardent devotee Narada Muni:

Sometime during the period of Sri Krishna avatar (Lord Vishnu took 9 avatars in total), Narada Muni was puzzled with the concept of 'maya'. He was in deep thought on how maya can influence humans and why it's considered very powerful.

Unable to contain his curiosity, the sage presented his doubts to Lord Krishna, but the Lord simply smiled without any response. Narada left, not knowing why Krishna refused to clear his doubts.

However, the Lord had better plans to make Narada truly understand the concept of maya. One day, Krishna invited Narada to join His travels around the world and the latter gladly agreed. They crossed mountains and rivers for days in a chariot with Krishna as the charioteer.

Eventually, the chariot reached a desert and finding Himself thirsty, Krishna asked Narada to bring him some water from a nearby house.

When Narada knocked on the door of the house, a beautiful woman opened it. Mesmerised by her beauty, Narada completely forgot the Lord was waiting for him and proceeded to ask her hand in marriage from her father.

He agreed, and once the couple was married, the father set up a house near a river for them to start their life together. They planted their own crops and lived happily together for seven long years. The sage and his wife were blessed with three children.

But, the marital bliss didn't last long. One day, a massive flood hit the village because of heavy rain. Despite all his efforts to save his family, Narada lost them in the flood and stood alone in misery. He was shocked and couldn't believe seven years of his life had been washed away by this flood.

Suddenly, someone tapped his shoulder and looking behind, Narada was surprised to see Lord Krishna. "Where's my water? It's been half an hour already," the Lord asked.

Narada who was crying from the loss of his family came to his senses and realised it was part of Krishna's play to make him understand the power of maya. While in the clutches of maya for seven years, Narada found out only 30 minutes have passed in reality. The sage lost himself in the trap of maya.

Finally understanding maya, Narada begged Krishna to bring him away from the place and swore only to pray and singing his praises all his life to avoid getting stuck in illusion again.

Thus, the power of maya was able to deceive the great sage Narada himself. Sages and saints believe that only through pure devotion and surrender one can release from the grips of maya.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Hindu Endowments Board
Photo Credit: Kone, Krusus, Kranos & Bhagavatham Katha