Maya in the Bhagavata Purana: Human Suffering and Divine Play

ISBN : 9780198856993

Gopal K. Gupta
288 ページ
156 x 234 mm
Oxford Theology and Religion Monographs

The idea of Maya pervades Indian philosophy. It is complex, multivalent, and foundational, with its oldest referents found in the Rig Veda. This book 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.


1 Introduction: 'What Sort of Thing is the Bhagavata?'
2 Maya in the Bhagavata and Preceding Texts: From Deluding Power to Divine Feminine
3 Maya's Relation to the Temporal Realm: The Samkhya of the Bhagavata
4 Maya in Relation to the Human Condition: Of Dreams and Allegorical Themes
5 Maya's Role in the Absolute Realm: The Architect of Krsna's Delights
6 The Bhagavata Speaks of Women: 'Temptress' or 'Highest Embodiment of Love'?
7 The Bhagavata Speaks of Human Suffering: 'May Calamities Befall Us at Every Step'
8 Origins, Bondage, Liberation, and Grace: Of Cats, Monkeys, and Children in Wells
9 Epilogue: A Relevant Bit of 19th Century History
Appendix One: Uses of the Word Maya in the Bhagavata Purana
Appendix Two: Uses of the Word Maya as a Compound in the Bhagavata Purana
Appendix Three: Some Occurrences of Yoga-Maya in the Bhagavata Purana
Appendix Four: The Samkhya of the Bhagavata Purana
Appendix Five: All the Instances of Maya in the Bhagavata Purana


Gopal K. Gupta is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Evansville (UE), Indiana. He is the editor-in-chief for the Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies (JHCS).