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  • Thumbnail for A measure of Māyā : delusion and power in the Bhagavad Gītā, the Bhāgavata Purāna, and Saṅkara’s commentaries
    A measure of Māyā : delusion and power in the Bhagavad Gītā, the Bhāgavata Purāna, and Saṅkara’s commentaries by Diepenbrock, Taylor

    The Bhagavad Gītā and Tenth Canto of the Bhāgavata Purāna as well as Śaṅkara’s commentaries on the Bhagavad Gītā and the Vedānta Sutras all attempt to reconcile the existence of the brahmanical hierarchy and the acceptance of a philosophy that posits the ultimate unity of everyone and everything. The texts all consider māyā, which refers to a supernatural power of creation and a state of delusion, to be the cause of our lived experience of difference and separateness. Despite this similarity, the texts differ in their theories regarding the soteriological role of māyā. For Śaṅkara, māyā is the primary obstacle in developing the necessary knowledge for liberation. In the soteriological path of devotion described in the narratives of the Gītā and the Bhāgavata by contrast, while māyā can be a hindrance it mostly supports the salvation of a devotee because māyā establishes the possibility for devotion to Kṛṣṇa, the supreme god of these two texts. Even with these differences, I find that the role of māyā in all of these texts promotes the submission of the individual seeking liberation. In my thesis, I will attempt to convey how the alleged pervasiveness of māyā engenders this submission as a result of the power imbalance it creates, and that this pattern, developing out of a brahmanical social order, further consolidates and extends brahmanical power.