Danava Maya And Mayans Of America

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In this article, now expanded into a series of articles, I focus on Danava Maya who is mentioned extensively in Ancient Indian literature in Sanskrit and Tamil and explore the possible connection of Maya and his Mayan tribe with the Mayans of Meso America. I have written about Maya in some other article dealing with other subjects. Maya belongs to the Asura Danava tribe mentioned with great detail in ancient Indian literature including two of the four the Vedas (Rig Veda & Atharva Veda), Epics (Mahabharata & Ramayana) and the Puranas, in Sanskrit as well as in Tamil epic literature (like Silappatikaram). This is my attempt to bring everything about this Asura Danava Maya tribe that produced, great architects, technologists, mathematicians and astronomers of ancient India, together into a single article.

Each reference to Maya does not refer to the same individual but to different individuals who lived in different periods of pre-history but all of them belonging to the Maya tribe or the Maayan tribe of ancient India. The Epic-Puranic traditions often fused these individual Mayas together to portray them all as a single individual named Maya. This fused individuality falls apart under close examination and resolve as multiple individuals of the Maya-tribe spanning several generations.

Architect Maya and the Concept of Maaya

skt मय and skt. माय

Before we start our analysis, one important terminology is to be familiarized with. It is the concept of "Maaya" (skt.माय). Both the words 'Maya' and 'Maaya' can be expressed with the same spelling 'Maya' in English but actually they are two distinct words in its Sanskrit original. For simplicity we can write माय as Maaya (Maaya the concept), with a double 'a' between 'M' and 'y' and मय as Maya (Maya the architect or Maya the tribe or any member of the Maya tribe).

The usual meaning attributed to the concept of Maaya are the following. In simple terms Maaya means 'illusion' or 'magic'. In the post-Vedic Upanishad literature, this word is used to denote the 'illusory nature' of the universe in contrast to the absolute reality which is beyond this illusion (Maaya). Thus this word finds its place in Bhagavat Gita as well, where Maaya is described as the 'illusory power' of Supreme Reality (appearing in the personal form of Krishna).

I searched for the etymology of the word 'Maaya' and quickly arrived at Maya. The real and primary meaning of Maaya before it got interpreted as other things mentioned above, is that 'Maaya' means 'of Maya', 'related to Maya' following the grammatical rules of Sanskrit. By looking at the alternate meaning of the word, viz. 'magic', 'illusion' or 'illusory power' we get that 'Maaya' is actually the 'magic or illusions of the architect Maya' or 'the illusory power of the architect Maya'. When ancient scriptures talk about 'illusion' or 'magic' they are in fact talking about some 'technology' whose inner workings are unknown to the narrator. So Maya's illusion or Maaya is nothing but 'Maya's technology' or the 'technological wonders created by Maya'.

Maya in the Vedas

The oldest reference to anything related to Maya is found in Rig Veda with the hymn Mayabheda (Rv.10.177). This is a very strange reference to Maya, his creations, his inventions and his capabilities. Rig Veda also contains a tribal name or a personal name 'Mayava' but we know nothing more about it.

This section of the article is expanded and moved to sub-article titled:- Maya in the Vedas

Maya in Ramayana

Maya / Maaya is mentioned around 23 times in Ramayana. Here one Maya belonging to the Maya tribe is described as a great architect and father of Mandodari who became the queen of Rakshasa king Ravana. Maya is variously described as an Asura, a Danava and as a Daitya. He is mentioned as son of Diti, the mother of all Daityas. The Daityas and Danavas were both Asuras. It seems there is some ambiguity in ascertaining if Maya belonged to the Daitya group or to the Danava group, but there is no doubt that he was an Asura. The question whether Maya was a Daitya or a Danava has some importance if we consider the theory that a section of Iranians (the Ahura worshipers, who migrated from India to Iran) descended from Daityas and a section of the Greeks (the Danaans, who migrated from India through Iran and Turkey to Greece) descended from the Danavas.

There is a possibility that the Maayan tribe or the Maya tribe of ancient India contains members belonging to the Daitya clan as well as the Danava clan and the name Maya is used by them when they were experts in creating technological wonders (magic or illusions) using their metallurgy, metal smelting and metal working technologies.

Another person Mayavi with some connection with Maya is mentioned in Ramayana six times.

This section of the article is expanded and moved to sub-article titled:- Maya in Ramayana

Maya in Mahabharata

Maya / Maaya is mentioned around 61 times in Mahabharata. Thus Mahabharata contains the largest reference to Maya. Here one Maya belonging to the Maya tribe is praised as a great architect and creator of many technological illusions. Another Maya is credited with the creation of space-crafts rotating around Earth in precise orbits. One architect Maya constructed a wonderful assembly for the Pandava king Yudhisthira. He was respected by the king as a great man. Like in Ramayana, in Mahabharata too there is varying references that make Maya a Daitya or a Danava, but undoubtedly and Asura. Mahabharata also contains references to a battle between Indra and Maya, where Indra defeated or killed Maya. This corroborate with some of the references in Rig Veda where a battle between Indra and Gandharva is mentioned. The designation 'Gandharva' in this case may be point to the location of this Maya's territory in Gandhara region (north-western Pakistan).

This section of the article is expanded and moved to sub-article titled:- Maya in Mahabharata

Maya in Vishnu Purana

Maaya is mentioned only once in Vishnu Purana as an anthropomorphic a philosophical term:- two daughters, Maya (deceit) and Vedana (torture). But some other names close to Maya like Mayadevi (three times) and Mayavati are mentioned in this text. Mayadevi was the wife of Pradyumna, the son of Krishna. Mayavati is another name of Mayadevi.

Maya in Silappatikaram

The Tamil epic Silappatikaram, that describe the southern Indian kingdoms Chola, Pandya and Kerala (Chera) is not behind its Sanskrit counterparts in describing the architectural wonders of Maya. Some of the references mentioned as belonging to the Chola kingdom include the following:- (chapter 2) The couch {amali} with its legs {kaal} studded with jewls {mani}, stationed in the inter space {itai nilam} of the room {maatam} in the upper floor {micai} of Macattuvan's ( a merchant in Chola kingdom) huge apartment {netu nilai} was designed as if crafted by architect Maya {mayan}. (Chapter 5):- The king of Avanti offered him (a Chola king) a tall delicately wrought arch for his gateway. It was made of Gold and Gems. Its construction and art works were a secret even to Craftsmen of great skill. These were formerly created by the architect Maya himself.

Maya's theory of Sun (Surya Siddhanta)

With the extensive architectural background, the individuals belonging to the Maya tribe were well versed in astronomy and mathematics (including trigonometry). One such Maya (variably dated from 500 BCE to 500 CE) has done several astronomical calculations, arriving at the orbital periods of visible planets, their distance from Earth and their diameters.  He is credited with the Surya Siddhanta, a work dealing with astronomy where he had described about the results of his analysis. 'Surya' means 'Sun' and 'Siddhanta' means 'theory'. Thus Surya Siddhanta could mean the Theory of Sun or the Theory of Solar System.

This section is elaborated in the sub-article titled:- Maya's Theory of Sun.

Indian Maayans and the Meso American Maayans

It is impossible to ignore the etymological similarity of Maya with the Maayans of Meso America. The Mayan civilization is known for their astronomical systems (like the Mayan calender) and predictions based on them. There are also many direct and indirect evidence showing the interaction of ancient Indians with Meso America through ancient sea-trade networks in huge Indian ships capable of carrying 500 or more people.

This section is elaborated in the sub-article titled:- Indian Maayans and the Meso American Maayans.

Maya Chola Connection

We have already seen that Maya is mentioned in Silappatikaram as the architect of many architectural structures found in Chola kingdom. Cholan language is a prominent language spoken by the Meso American Mayans.

This section is elaborated in the sub-article titled:- Maya Chola Connection.

Other Indian Tribes in Meso America

From the analysis of Valmiki Ramayana, we have already seen the presence of Yakshas in southern India, who inhabited the Malaya mountains (southern portion of Western Ghats of India) that lies along Kerala-Tamilnadu, Kerala-Karnataka boarder. We have also explored the possibility of them having their sea port at Kanyakumari, where Malaya mountain terminates at the sea shore of Indian Ocean, close to Mahendragiri.

This territory lies to the west of Chola territories and to the immediate west of Maya's cavities / cave networks. Yakshas had established themselves in Meso America as Yucatan, a Mexican state and a peninsular region in Mexico. Adjacent to them is the territory of Kambojas in Meso America as Campeche (a Mexican state). Besides them another Asura-Daitya tribe known in ancient Indian scriptures as the tribe of Bali has reached Meso America with their territory now known as Belize.

This section is elaborated in the sub-article titled:- Other Indian Tribes in America.

Further Reading

  1. Maya in the Vedas
  2. Maya in Ramayana
  3. Maya in Mahabharata
  4. Maya's Theory of Sun
  5. Indian Maayans And The Meso American Maayans
  6. Maya Chola Connection
  7. Other Indian Tribes in America


  1. Maya in Rigveda - Maya-bheda
  2. Maya in Atharva Veda
  3. Maya in Ramayana
  4. Maya in Vishnu Purana
  5. Maya in Silappatikaram
  6. Maya in Silappatikaram
  7. Iliad: Danava-Danaan connection
  8. Ancient Indians in Sea www.hinduwisdom.info

Underground Structures in Tamilnadu (Maya's Cavities)

  1. Virinchipuram Temple - possess an underground route to the Vellore Jalagendeswarar temple.
  2. Vilvanatheswarar temple, Thiruvalam - There is an under-ground path, beneath the Bali Peetam.
  3. Vilvanatheswarar temple, Thiruvalam - In the left side outer praharam, there is a underground passage and no one knows where it leads to!

Underground Mayan Structures in Mexico

  1. Mayan Portal to the Underworld, Mexico - A labyrinth filled with stone temples and pyramids in 14 caves—some underwater—have been uncovered on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, archaeologists announced in Aug 2008.

Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 01 Jan 2012 10:33 and updated at 11 Jan 2012 17:12

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