Is Illusion the Essence of Reality?

The monistic Theory of Division states:

“Brahman is like the sky. Parts of the sky can be divided by being contained within pots. When the pot is made of ignorance, the Brahman within is an individual (jīva). When the pot is made of knowledge, the Brahman within is the master of illusion (Īśvara), God.”

This theory is illogical and based on over-extended metaphor. Since Brahman is supposed to be indivisible, it is an over-extension of metaphor to compare it with the divisibility of the sky. Brahman’s indivisibility renders the theory illogical, for how can a pot divide an indivisible thing?

Some monists reply that the division is just an illusion. This remains illogical because Brahman is the essence of reality itself. How can reality itself be subjugated by illusion?

The monistic answer to this question is that reality itself is essentially an illusion (māyā). Proponents of this answer are described as members of the School of Illusion (māyā-vāda). Although this school picks and choses a handful of Vedic statements to support their claims, it cannot be considered a truly Vedic school because it contradicts the fundamental Vedic principle that consciousness (brahman) is the essence of reality, not illusion (māyā). It is also an illogical school because illusion cannot exist without consciousness – it is a particular condition of consciousness – so illusion cannot logically be more primordial than consciousness. However, members of the school rarely mind being called illogical, since they are, after all, in the School of something fundamentally illogical: illusion.

– Excerpt from
This is Gauḍīya Philosophy:
Part 1 – Fundamental Realities

A rendering of Śrī Tattva-sandarbha
of Śrī Jīva Goswami

by Vraja Kishor dās

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