Mahamaya, Mahāmāya, Mahāmāyā, Maha-maya: 31 definitions


Mahamaya means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

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In Hinduism

Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

Source: Wisdom Library: Śāktism

1) Mahāmāya (महामाय, “Great Illusion”):—One of the names of Mahākālī (tamas-form of Mahādevī). It represents the divine power that makes the phenomenal universe congnizable to the senses. Mahākālī is one of the three primary forms of Devī. Not to be confused with Kālī, she is a more powerful cosmic aspect (vyaṣṭi) of Devi and represents the guṇa (universal energy) named tamas. For reference, see the Devī Māhātmya, a Sanskrit work from the 5th century, incorporated into the Mārkaṇḍeya-Purāṇa.

2) Mahāmāyā (महामाया, “grand deceit, great illusion”):—Name of one of the sixty-four mātṛs to be worshipped during Āvaraṇapūjā (“Worship of the Circuit of Goddesses”, or “Durgā’s Retinue”), according to the Durgāpūjātattva. They should be worshipped with either the five upācāras or perfume and flowers.

Her mantra is as follows:

ॐ महामायायै नमः
oṃ mahāmāyāyai namaḥ.

Source: Google Books: Manthanabhairavatantram

1) Mahāmāyā (महामाया) and Mahābhairava refers to the pair of Goddess and God appearing in the eighteenth Kalpa (aeon), according to the Kularatnoddyota (chapter 9).—Accordingly: “There will be one named Ruru, king of the demons and very powerful. You will be on the path (of the world) at the end of the Mahākalpa in order to slay him. O mother of the universe, you who are forgiving and (yet) very fierce, Mahāmāyā and extremely powerful, you will destroy him. Accompanied by Mahābhairava and worshipped by the great host of mothers (mātṛ), you will be united to the one who is the god of all as (your) husband in the eighteenth aeon”.

2) Mahāmāyā (महामाया) is he name of a deity, according to the Manthānabhairavatantra, a vast sprawling work that belongs to a corpus of Tantric texts concerned with the worship of the goddess Kubjikā.—[...] There, in the End of the Twelve, is Mahāmāyā which, “beyond Śiva, is the New Moon (amā) that is within emission (visarga) and which is subtle and stainless (nirañjanā)”.

Source: Kamakoti Mandali: The Yoginis of Narasimha Vyuha

Mahāmāyā (महामाया) refers to one of the four Vyūhaśaktis and was created from Narasiṃha’s heart after being pleased with Rudra’s prayers.—Accordingly, [...] though the demons were all killed, including the original Andhakāsura, the Mātṛkāgaṇas created by Rudra were still hungry and they began to attack the three worlds, devouring Devas and Humans. Failing to perform the upasaṃhāra of such a huge magnitude of Śaktis, Rudra meditated on Mahānṛsiṃha [...]. Pleased with Rudra’s prayers, Narasiṃha created four Vyūhaśaktis [viz., Mahāmāyā]. The Lord created a group of Nṛsiṃha Yoginīs to accompany the three main Śaktis. [...] All of them, under the command of śuṣkarēvatī, attacked the Rudraśaktis, subdued them and pacified them to attain benevolence.

Shaktism book cover
context information

Shakta (शाक्त, śākta) or Shaktism (śāktism) represents a tradition of Hinduism where the Goddess (Devi) is revered and worshipped. Shakta literature includes a range of scriptures, including various Agamas and Tantras, although its roots may be traced back to the Vedas.

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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Source: Wisdom Library: Kubjikāmata-tantra

Mahāmāyā (महामाया):—Sanskrit name of one of the twenty-four goddesses of the Sūryamaṇḍala (first maṇḍala of the Khecarīcakra) according to the kubjikāmata-tantra. The Khecarīcakra is the fifth cakra (‘internal mystic center’) of the five (pañcacakra) and is located on or above the head. She presides over the pītha (‘sacred site’) called Ujjayinī, which is also known as Ekāmraka, according to the Ṣaṭsāhasraṭippanī.

Source: A Critical Study of the Vajraḍākamahātantrarāja (II) (shaivism)

Mahāmāyā (महामाया) is the name of a Goddess (Devī) presiding over Ujjayinī: one of the twenty-four sacred districts mentioned in the Kubjikāmatatantra. Her weapon is the pāśa. Furthermore, Mahāmāyā is accompanied by the Kṣetrapāla (field-protector) named Mahākāla and their abode is an aśvattha-tree. A similar system appears in the 9th century Vajraḍākatantra (chapter 18).

Shaivism book cover
context information

Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

[«previous next»] — Mahamaya in Purana glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Varāha-purāṇa

Mahāmāyā (महामाया).—Name of a river (nadī) situated near the seven great mountains on the western side of mount Naiṣadha, according to the Varāhapurāṇa chapter 83. These settlements consume the water flowing from these seven great mountains (Viśākha, Kambala, Jayanta, Kṛṣṇa, Harita, Aśoka and Vardhamāna). Niṣadha (Naiṣadha) is one of the seven mountains located in Jambūdvīpa, ruled over by Āgnīdhra, a grandson of Svāyambhuva Manu, who was created by Brahmā, who was in turn created by Nārāyaṇa, the unknowable all-pervasive primordial being.

Source: Shiva Purana - English Translation

Mahāmāya (महामाय) refers to “wielder of the great illusion” and is used to describe the Goddess (Devī), according to the Śivapurāṇa 2.2.12. Accordingly as Brahmā narrated to Nārada:—“[...] with various sorts of prayer [Dakṣa] eulogised and bowed to the Goddess (Devī) mother of the universe, [...] Obeisance to Thee, O great Goddess, mother of the universe, wielding the great illusion (mahāmāya), the ruler of the universe. It is with great favour that Thou showed Thy own body to me”.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

1) Mahāmāya (महामाय).—A Dānava and a commander of Bhaṇḍa.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 6. 5; IV. 21. 81.

2) Mahāmāyā (महामाया).—A vidyā taught to Pradyumna by Māyāvatī to vanquish Śambara; it was an astra and one which could dispel all māyā.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 55. 16, 22.
Source: JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places

Mahāmāyā (महामाया) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. IX.44.39) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Mahāmāyā) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

Source: Shodhganga: The saurapurana - a critical study

Mahāmāya (महामाय) refers to a “great power of illusion”, according to the 10th century Saurapurāṇa: one of the various Upapurāṇas depicting Śaivism.—The killing of Raktāsura by the goddess Pārvatī in a terrific form is narrated in chapter 49 of the Saurapurāṇa. Accordingly:—“The son of the demon Mahiṣa was Raktāsura, who became very powerful and possessed great power of illusion (mahāmāya). He won victory over the gods and dethroned Indra from the kingdom of heaven. He issued orders, that no body should worship any god, with a threatening of death. The people were compelled to give up dāna, yajña, vrata etc.”.

Purana book cover
context information

The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Kavya (poetry)

[«previous next»] — Mahamaya in Kavya glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Kathāsaritsāgara

1) Mahāmāya (महामाय) is the name of an Asura king, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 45. Accordingly: “... And then Prahlāda invited, by means of messengers, the chiefs of the Asuras, and they came there in order from all the underworlds. First came King Bali, accompanied by innumerable great Asuras. Close behind him came Amīla and the brave Durāroha and Sumāya, and Tantukaccha, and Vikaṭākṣa and Prakampana, and Dhūmaketu and Mahāmāya, and the other lords of the Asuras; each of these came accompanied by a thousand feudal chiefs. The hall of audience was filled with the heroes, who saluted one another, and after they had sat down in order of rank Prahlāda honoured them all”.

In chapter 47, Mahāmāya is one of the four lords of the Asuras (asurādhipa) and considered a king over chiefs of hosts of transcendent warriors (atiratha) in Sunītha and Sūryaprabha’s army. Accordingly, as the Asura Maya explained the arrangement of warriors in Sunītha’s army: “... and Mahāmāya, and Kāmbalika, and Kālakampana here, and Prahṛṣṭaroman, these four lords of the Asuras, are kings over chiefs of hosts of transcendent warriors”.

2) Mahāmāya (महामाय) is the name of a guardian of the cave of mount Kailāsa, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 109. Accordingly, as Devamāya said to Naravāhanadatta: “... and in course of time I, Devamāya, was born in the family of Mahāmāya, the keeper of the entrance of the cave [of Mount Kailāsa]”.

3) Mahāmāya (महामाय) is the name of a Daitya who participated in the war between the Asuras and the Devas, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 115. Accordingly, “... then Vidyuddhvaja arrived, and there took place between those two armies a great battle, in which it was difficult to distinguish between friend and foe. [...] Mahāmāya and his forces [fought] with the gods of fire (Agnis) [...]”.

The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Mahāmāya, is a famous Sanskrit epic story revolving around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the vidyādharas (celestial beings). The work is said to have been an adaptation of Guṇāḍhya’s Bṛhatkathā consisting of 100,000 verses, which in turn is part of a larger work containing 700,000 verses.

Kavya book cover
context information

Kavya (काव्य, kavya) refers to Sanskrit poetry, a popular ancient Indian tradition of literature. There have been many Sanskrit poets over the ages, hailing from ancient India and beyond. This topic includes mahakavya, or ‘epic poetry’ and natya, or ‘dramatic poetry’.

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Vaishnavism (Vaishava dharma)

Source: Pure Bhakti: Bhagavad-gita (4th edition)

Mahāmāyā (महामाया) refers to “(See māyā-śakti)”. (cf. Glossary page from Śrīmad-Bhagavad-Gītā).

Source: Pure Bhakti: Bhajana-rahasya - 2nd Edition

Mahāmāyā (महामाया) or Māyāśakti refers to:—The illusion-generating potency which is responsible for the manifestation of the material world, time and material activities. (Also see Māyā.). (cf. Glossary page from Bhajana-Rahasya).

Vaishnavism book cover
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Vaishnava (वैष्णव, vaiṣṇava) or vaishnavism (vaiṣṇavism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshipping Vishnu as the supreme Lord. Similar to the Shaktism and Shaivism traditions, Vaishnavism also developed as an individual movement, famous for its exposition of the dashavatara (‘ten avatars of Vishnu’).

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Yoga (school of philosophy)

[«previous next»] — Mahamaya in Yoga glossary
Source: ORA: Amanaska (king of all yogas): A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation by Jason Birch

Mahāmāyā (महामाया) refers to a “great illusion”, according to the the Amanaska Yoga treatise dealing with meditation, absorption, yogic powers and liberation.—Accordingly, as Īśvara says to Vāmadeva: “[...] Like a plantain tree, the great illusion (mahāmāyā), whose layers [of leaf sheaths] along with the mind and senses, perishes totally when it has produced the fruit of the no-mind [state]. When the wings, which are the in and out breaths and whose sphere of operation is all the senses, are cut off, the mind-bird being motionless [in the air], plummets. [...]”.

Yoga book cover
context information

Yoga is originally considered a branch of Hindu philosophy (astika), but both ancient and modern Yoga combine the physical, mental and spiritual. Yoga teaches various physical techniques also known as āsanas (postures), used for various purposes (eg., meditation, contemplation, relaxation).

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In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Source: Wisdom Library: Mahayana Buddhism

Mahāmāyā (महामाया) is the name of a Goddess included in the list of spiritual friends of Sudhana: the son of a merchant from Sukhākara who received a prophecy from Mañjuśrī, according to the Avataṃsaka-sūtra. Accordingly, Sudhana devoted himself to 110 spiritual friends in a great building adorned with the ornaments of Vairocana. These spiritual friends included monks, bodhisattvas, ṛṣis, brāhmaṇas, girls, kings, youths, goddesses (e.g., Mahāmāyā), householders, etc. From these beings, Sudhana took the vows without the need for any formal basis.

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

Mahāmāyā (महामाया) is the mother of the Buddha and the sister of Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī, who was born to Devadaha, of the Śākya Añjana. Her brothers were Daṇḍapāṇi and Suprabuddha and her sister was Mahāmāyā, mother of the Buddha. The latter had died eight days after the birth and Mahāprajāpatī took the place of mother to the Buddha. Like her sister, she was the wife of Śuddhodana to whom she had born a son, the handsome Nanda. The Buddha accepted his aunt into the Buddhist order with her five hundred companions.

Mahayana book cover
context information

Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

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Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

See Maya.

Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

The mother of the Buddha (D.ii.52; see Thomas: op. cit., 25).

Her father was the Sakiyan Anjana of Devadaha, son of Devadahasakka, and her mother Yasodhara, daughter of Jayasena. (Mhv.ii.17ff.; elsewhere her father is called Maha Suppabuddha (ThigA.141), while the Apadana (ii.538) gives the name of her mother as Sulakkhana).

Dandapani and Suppabuddha were her brothers, and Maha Pajapati her sister. Both the sisters were married to Suddhodana in their youth, but it was not till Maya was between forty and fifty that the Buddha was born (Vibha.278). She had all the qualities necessary for one who was to bear the exalted rank of being the mother of the Buddha: she was not too passionate, she did not take intoxicants, she had practiced the parami for one hundred thousand kappas, and had not, since her birth, violated the five sila. On the day of her conception she kept her fast, and in her sleep that night she had the following dream: the four Maharaja gods took her in her bed to Himava and placed her under a sala tree on Manosilatala. Then their wives came and bathed her in the Anotatta Lake and clad her in divine robes. They then led her into a golden palace and laid her on a divine couch; there the Bodhisatta, in the form of a white elephant, holding a white lotus in his gleaming trunk, entered into her right side. This was on the day of the Uttarasalhanakkhatta, after a festival lasting seven days, in which she had already taken part.

From the day of her conception she was guarded by the Four Regent Gods; she felt no desire for men, and the child in her womb could be seen from outside. At the end of the tenth month she wished to return to her people in Devadaha, but, on her way thither, she stopped at the sala grove in Lumbini and there her child was born as she stood holding on to the branch of a sala tree (J.i.49ff). Seven days later Maya died and was reborn as a male in the Tusita world, under the name of Mayadevaputta (Thag.vss.533f.; ThagA.i.502).

The Buddha visited Tavatimsa immediately after the performance of the Twin Miracle at the foot of the Gandamba tree, on the full moon day of Asalha, and there, during the three months of the rainy season, the Buddha stayed, preaching the Abhidhamma Pitaka to his mother (who came there to listen to him), seated on Sakkas Pandukambalasilasana, at the foot of the Paricchattaka tree. (It is said that, during this time, at certain intervals, the Buddha would return to earth, leaving a seated image of himself in Tavatimsa to continue the preaching while he attended to his bodily needs, begging alms in Uttarakuru and eating his food on the banks of Anotatta, where Sariputta waited on him and learnt of what he had been preaching to the devas.) (DhSA.i.15; DhA.iii.216f)

The Commentaries (UdA.276f ) state the view, held by some,

context information

Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Source: The Indian Buddhist Iconography

1) Mahāmāyā (महामाया) refers to one of the various emanations of Akṣobhya having their Sādhana described in the 5th-century Sādhanamālā (a collection of sādhana texts that contain detailed instructions for rituals).—His Colour is blue; his Prajñā is Buddhaḍākinī; he has four faces and four arms.—Hevajra takes the name of Mahāmāyā when he is embraced by his Śakti Buddhaḍākinī and remains with her in yab-yum.

The Dhyāna (meditation instructions) of Mahāmāyā described in the Sādhanamālā as follows:—

“The god called Mahāmāyā is four-faced and four-armed. He has on his lap a goddess and four others in the four cardinal directions”

[Two sādhanas in the Sādhanamālā are devoted to the worship of the deity, one of which is attributed to Kukkurīpāda celebrated as one of the eighty-four Mahāsiddhas who flourishedin early times.]

[Cf., mahāmāyā-maṇḍala]:

Mahāmāyā is described in the Niṣpannayogāvalī as follows:—

“The form of Heruka called Mahāmāyā is blue in colour and resembles the dazzling sun.... He is four-faced; the principal face is blue, the right yellow, the one behind is white and the left green.... He holds in his two right hands the skull cup and the arrow, and in the two left the khaṭvāṅga and the bow... He dances the tāṇḍava dance in ardhaparyaṅka”.

2) Mahāmāyā (महामाया) also refers to the Goddess of the East in the sādhana of the sixteen-armed variety of Mahākāla.


“Mahākāla should be surrounded by seven goddesses, three in the three cardinal points, (the fourth being occupied by his own Śakti) and the other four in the four corners. [...] To the East is Mahāmāyā (consort of Maheśvara), who stands in the ālīḍha attitude and rides a lion. She has four arms, of which the two left hands carry the kapāla and the ḍamaru, and the two right the kartri and the mudgara. She is blue in complexion, has dishevelled hair, three eyes and protruding teeth. All these deities are terrible in appearance, with protruding teeth and ornaments of serpents. [...]

Surrounded by all these deities [viz., Mahāmāyā], Mahākāla should be meditated upon as trampling upon Vajrabhairava in the form of a corpse”.

Source: A Critical Study of the Vajraḍākamahātantrarāja (I)

Mahāmāyā (महामाया)or Padmaraśmī is the name of a deity associated with the Bhūta (element) named Ākāśa, according to the 9th century Vajraḍākatantra chapter 1.16-22.—Accordingly, this chapter proclaims the purity of the five components (skandha), five elements (bhūta) and five senses (āyatana) as divine beings [viz., Mahāmāyā].

Tibetan Buddhism book cover
context information

Tibetan Buddhism includes schools such as Nyingma, Kadampa, Kagyu and Gelug. Their primary canon of literature is divided in two broad categories: The Kangyur, which consists of Buddha’s words, and the Tengyur, which includes commentaries from various sources. Esotericism and tantra techniques (vajrayāna) are collected indepently.

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General definition (in Buddhism)

Source: Buddhist Door: GlossaryThe mother of Shakyamuni. She was the Koliyan Princess and married to Suddhodana. She died seven days after giving birth to Shakyamuni.

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

mahāmāyā (महामाया).—f (S) corruptly mahāmaya f A name of Durga. 2 Worldly illusion; the unreality and illusiveness of the universe, appearing as material and of distinct subsistence whilst it is but the expanded spirituality of Brahma. 3 Applied appellatively and revilingly to a woman hated as a shrew or scold; or viewed as occasioning ill-luck &c.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English

mahāmāyā (महामाया).—f Wordly illusion. Fig. A shrew. Durga.

context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit dictionary

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Mahāmāya (महामाय).—

1) an epithet of Śiva.

2) of Viṣṇu.

Derivable forms: mahāmāyaḥ (महामायः).

Mahāmāya is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms mahā and māya (माय).

--- OR ---

Mahāmāyā (महामाया).—

1) worldly illusion, which makes the material world appear really existent.

2) Name of Durgā; महामाया हरेश्चैषा यया संमोह्यते जगत् (mahāmāyā hareścaiṣā yayā saṃmohyate jagat) Devīmāhātmya.

Mahāmāyā is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms mahā and māyā (माया).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary

Mahāmāya (महामाय).—m., a high number: (Ārya-)Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa 343.19; see s.v. māya.

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Mahāmāyā (महामाया) or Māyā.—(1) 1: Divyāvadāna 390.2; Avadāna-śataka ii.44.6; (2) name of a sister of prec.: Mahāvastu i.355.17; (3) name of a deity: Sādhanamālā 434.4 etc., mother of guhyakas, 434.6; compare next.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Mahāmāyā (महामाया).—f.

(-yā) 1. A name of Durga. 2. Worldly illusion or unreality; the divine power of illusion which makes the material universe appear what we see it to be. E. mahā great, māyā illusion.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Cappeller Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Mahāmāya (महामाय).—[adjective] very deceitful or illusory; [masculine] [Epithet] of [several] gods, [feminine] ā & ī [Epithet] of Durgā.

--- OR ---

Mahāmāyā (महामाया).—[feminine] the Great Illusion (ph.).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Mahāmāya (महामाय):—[=mahā-māya] [from mahā > mah] mf(ā)n. having great deceit or illusion, [Rāmāyaṇa]

2) [v.s. ...] practising gr° d° or ill° very illusory, [Rāmāyaṇa; Kathāsaritsāgara]

3) [v.s. ...] m. Name of Viṣṇu, [Pañcarātra]

4) [v.s. ...] of Śiva, [Mahābhārata] ([Religious Thought and Life in India 106])

5) [v.s. ...] of an Asura, [Kathāsaritsāgara]

6) [v.s. ...] of a Vidyā-dhara, [ib.]

7) Mahāmāyā (महामाया):—[=mahā-māyā] [from mahā-māya > mahā > mah] f. gr° deceit or illusion, the divine power of ill° (which makes the universe appear as if really existing and renders it cognizable by the senses), the illusory nature of worldly objects personified and identified with Durgā, [Purāṇa]

8) [v.s. ...] Name of a wife of Śuddhodana, [Buddhist literature]

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Yates Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Mahāmayā (महामया):—[mahā-mayā] (yā) 1. f. Durgā; illusion.

[Sanskrit to German]

Mahamaya in German

context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family (even English!). Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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