How can we explain the concept of Avidya and Maya? Sri Sri Ravishankar Guruji (Founder of Art of Living) explaining the concept of Avidya and Maya in his own words…
Maya means all that can be measured. The English word measure comes from the Sanskrit wordMaya. ‘Miyate anaya iti maya’
Miyate means to be measured. Everything that can be measured is Maya. The five elements can be measured: earth, water, fire, air, ether. They all can be measured. So the world which is made up of the five elements is all Maya, because they all can be measured. What cannot be measured? Compassion, love cannot be measured. You can’t say, ‘This person has three ounces of love, and that person has five ounces of love.’
Truth cannot be measured, beauty cannot be measured. You can’t say, ‘This lady has five units of beauty and that lady has three units of beauty.’ Beauty is immeasurable. Love, beauty, compassion, truth, integrity, honesty; all these qualities of the spirit are immeasurable. So, they are not Maya. They are Maheshvara – nature of the Self.
Maya also means all that is changing and that which can be measured; and measurements change. Everything in the world is subject to change.
So one meaning of Maya is, everything in the world is changing, and everything in the world can be measured, this is another meaning.
And that what is not changing, and what cannot be measured is consciousness, the Self, Bramhan or the Universal Energy.
Avidya means study of this change, measuring things.
There are two things: Vidya and Avidya. Vidya means study of consciousness and Avidya means study of the world; smaller things.