This reprint of Arthur Avalon's classic work furthers our ambition to make all works of this pioneering author available again to the students and general reading public. Avalon was the first author to introduce this difficult, and hidden in secrecy, subject of T antra Shastra.
"Mahamaya" is the sixth volume of the series "The World as Power". A comparison is made between Shakta-vada and the better known Vedanta system called Mayavada. Both systems speak of Maya but understand them differently as explained in the ten chapters of this book. Its object is not to prove the truth of this or any other system, but to give an exposition of Consciousness as conceived in the doctrine of Power and in such exposition to show that it is not a mere fossil in a museum of antique thought but has practical utility today. It offers to Western philosophy a new conception of Consciousness and Mind and brings to the controversies within the Vedantic schools a profoundly conceived contri-bution, in its theory of power and in its doctrine of the unity of conditioned and unconditioned being, of the state of worldly experience which is Samsara and that super-worldly experience which is Moksha.
THE English reader is recommended to have recourse to the authors' previously published books (set out in the advertisement) for a better under-standing of the present volume. Its subject is an exposition of some aspects only of the Indian doctrine of the "World as Power" (Shakti-vada), as also a comparison between this and the better known Vedanta system called Mayavada. Both systems speak of Maya, but understand the term differently as explained in the first and following Chapters. Consequences of prime importance follow therefrom.
All the known ancient religions of the world including those of what are called "lower culture" have believed in a universal fund of Power which cannot be defined and circumscribed. All imply a universal, indefinable, all-pervading Power, not necessarily in itself "personal," but of which personality is an expression. So Dr. Carpenter (Comparative Religion, p. 81) speaking of the concept Orenda" of the North American Indians" says that it ex-presses an incalculable Energy manifesting in and as the sun, moon, and stars, waters, plants and animals, and all other objects of nature, breathing in the winds and heard in the thunder. This belief commonly called Animism is a crude form of the doctrine of an Anima Mundi held by some of the greatest thinkers. It is the universal background of the doctrine of Power on which ancient faiths, higher or lower, have rested and out of which they have evolved. When all such faiths and conceptions are reduced to a common denominator, we find a doctrine of Cosmic Power itself unmeasured and undefined, but which "measures" out (the root meaning of Maya), or makes finite forms in the formless infinite which together (form and formlessness) constitute one alogical "Whole (Alma). That Power was called the Magna Mater in the antique West, and in India is named Maya when it finitizes and mahamaya when it liberates from the finite. The finite is conditioned Being, and that is the universe or Sangslxra. Nirvana is Being unconditioned. The two are at base one, since the finite beings spring from the infinite and re-enter it, the latter yet remaining unaffected. The "World as Power" doctrine has grown from simple origin's to which expression is given in sexual imagery. It, like all else, has been sublimated by the Vedanta of which as Shrividya, it is a form. Sex is here both the symbol and sensuous manifestation of a fundamental diohotomy or diremption evolving in Consciousness and of a fundamental polarity appearing in its Power. It is with the doctrine thus philosophically developed that we deal. In this exposition of Consciousness-Power (Shakti-vada) reference is made to western philosophy and science. To anticipate criticism it may be said at once that it is not intended by the authors to assert that all .the conclusions of such science and philosophy here mentioned were in the mind of the Indian sages. What is affirmed is that much of modern Western scientific teaching is consonant with and follows logically from the principles laid down in Indian Scriptures dealing with Power or Shakti. These general principles implicitly contain more than the Indian texts explicitly state. Nothing, however, is here said which is not warranted by these texts and general Indian beliefs. Western philosophy and science may therefore be used to illustrate the Indian Principles and their applicability to many problems both ancient and modern. They do so illustrate precisely because the principles implicitly contain the scientific and metaphysical conclusions which are here found in them. This might seem to be too obvious for statement were it not our experience that mention of Western doctrine made by modern exponents of Indian Scriptures, frequently leads to the charge that an attempt has been made to read something into such Scriptures which is not there.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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