Mahamaya, aka: Mahāmāya, Mahāmāyā, Maha-maya; 12 Definition(s)

Introduction

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.

In Hinduism

Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

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): Wisdom Library: Śāktism
Shaktism book cover
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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.

Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

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): Wisdom Library: Kubjikāmata-tantra
Shaivism book cover
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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.

Purana

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): Wisdom Library: Varāha-purāṇa

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): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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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.

Itihasa (narrative history)

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): JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
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Itihasa (इतिहास, itihāsa) refers to ‘epic history’ and represents a branch of Sanskrit literature which popularly includes 1) the eighteen major Puranas, 2) the Mahabharata and 3) the Ramayana. It is a branch of Vedic Hinduism categorised as smriti literature (‘that which is remembered’) as opposed to shruti literature (‘that which is transmitted verbally’).

In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of 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 (eg., Mahāmāyā), householders, etc. From these beings, Sudhana took the vows without the need for any formal basis.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Mahayana Buddhism
Mahayana book cover
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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.

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

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,

(Source): Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
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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).

General definition (in Buddhism)

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

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-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 Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

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

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