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The Universe Is Real
Q. Some people say, «This universe is false — it is only made of maya.» Is this true?
A. This universe is real, but it is temporary and perishable. The two characteristics 'real' and 'eternal' have separate meanings. The material universe is not eternal, because eventually it will be destroyed according to the Lord's desire. But it is a factual reality, not false. Whenever the scriptures say that this universe is false, it is to be understood that this statement merely refers to its temporary, perishable nature.
Q. What is Maya?
A. Bhagavan's divine potency (para-sakti) is composed of an infinite variety of energies. Among all of these, we know about three in particular: the principles of I) cit (consciousness), 2) jiva (spirit soul) and 3) maya (material illusion). From His cit potency, the Lord issues forth the manifestation of His own forms and pastimes (bhagavat-tattva-prakasa); from His jiva potency, He issues forth a limitless number of tiny atomic particles of consciousness; from His maya potency, He issues forth the manifestation of this material universe. Whatever is produced from the maya potency is perishable, but for the duration of its manifestation, it is real.