maya (mäˈyä) [key], in Hinduism, term used in the Veda to mean magic or supernatural power. In Mahayana Buddhism it acquires the meaning of illusion or unreality. The term is pivotal in the Vedanta system of Shankara, where it signifies the world as a cosmic illusion and also the power that creates the world.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.