Acharya Prashant: Māyā and Brahm are beginningless for you. ‘For you’ because the question is coming ‘from you’. So, to you, these two are beginningless. Why are these two beginningless? Why can’t their origin be known? Because Māyā does not comprise of an entity called ‘ Māyā * ’. * Māyā is verily the questioner himself. Māyā resides in the questioner. All questions are Māyā . A question implies a lack of knowledge.
So, the questioner is Māyā . If you can reach the beginning of Māyā then you say, “I have reached the beginning of Māyā and here Māyā is no more." When you reach the beginning of something, is that thing any more there? No, you have reached the end of that thing. Right?
If you have reached the end of that thing, who is there now still remaining to say, “Oh! I have reached the end of that thing”? See, you are the one who is trying to trace the origin of Māyā . So, you trace the origin of Māyā and you, let’s say, let’s assume, reached the origin somehow. And upon managing to reach the origin, what do you exclaim? You say, “Oh! I have found the beginning of Māyā !”
So, you have found the beginning of Māyā and you still remain to say that you have found the beginning of Māyā . If you indeed do still remain to say that the beginning of Māyā has been found, then what remains alive and intact in your form? Māyā itself. If Māyā still remains alive and intact in your form, have you reached the beginning of Māyā ?
So, the beginning of Māyā is therefore reached only when the quest to reach the beginning of Māyā is dropped. Right? So Māyā remains as long as there is darkness about the nature of Māyā . That darkness itself exhibits in the form of the question. Right? Where there is light, there are no questions, or are there? Remaining yourself, which means remaining Māyā -bound, you cannot receive an answer to the question “From where did Māyā or Avidyā begin?” The beginning is the end.
How is beginning the end? Because if you have reached the beginning, you have reached the point beyond which, there is no more the same substance, of which the beginning is being sought.
Let’s take a rope. There are two ends to a rope. If you reach the beginning of the rope, what have you de facto reached? The end of the rope. If you have reached the end of the rope, how will you know? Who will survive to know; because you are the rope, you are the questioner, you are the darkness? If that darkness still remains, then it is a contradiction that the end of darkness has been reached. You cannot say that you survive, you remain, and yet Māyā has ended. Even the question to know about Māyā is Māyā .
Even the one eager to know the origins of Māyā is Māyā. The one who perceives Māyā is Māyā. The one eager to know the end of Māyā is Māyā.
So, if there remains someone to receive the answers to all these questions or to receive success in his efforts to reach the end of Māyā or know the origin of Māyā , then Māyā has not ended. Therefore, Māyā is called beginningless.
If at all you have to ask “From where did Māyā come?” Then the only right answer is "from your question.” That’s the answer.
“When did the world begin?” - When you asked this question.
“From where does Māyā come?”- From the same point your question comes.
So Māyā is beginningless because if you can reach the end of Māyā , you have reached your own end. If you can reach the end of Māyā , which is the beginning of Māyā , you have reached your own end. As long as you remain, Māyā remains. Getting it?
Equally, how is Brahm called Anādi ? Why is Brahm beginningless? - Because you are Māyā . You are Māyā and Māyā cannot know anything. Least of all, Māyā can know Brahm . When Māyā cannot even know itself, how will Māyā ever know Brahm ? So how can Māyā know the beginning or the middle or the end of Brahm ? It does not know its own whereabouts, what will it know about Brahm ?
Therefore, to the seeker, it is rightly said that “ Brahm is the origin, the middle and the end", and in the same breath it is said that “the Brahm has no origin, no middle and no end." Getting it?
Now, the Upaniṣad says that when you are in the thrall of Anādi-Avidyā , then you have the belief that you are ‘the born body’ and that is ‘bondage’. Yes, that’s bondage because there is no bondage that you experience, that can survive without the assumption or the belief that you are the body. Show me one bondage that can survive without the body?
You will say that “Without the body, even I cannot survive. How will my bondages survive?” That’s what! The ‘I-sense’ identified with the body is the principal bondage.