A few days passed, Krishna asked to make a trip with him towards a desert. After walking for several miles, Krishna said, ‘Narada, I am thirsty; can you fetch some water for me?’
‘I will go at once, sir, and get you water.’
So Narada went. At a little distance there was a village. He entered the village in search of water and knocked at door, which was opened by a most beautiful young girl. At the sight of her he immediately forgot that his master was waiting for water, perhaps dying for the want of it. He forgot everything and began to talk with the girl. All that day he did not retuen to his master. The next day he was again at the house talking to the girl. The talk ripened into love. He asked the father for the daughter, and they were married and lived there and had children.
Thus twelve years passed. His father-in-law died; he inherited his property. He lived, as he seemed to think, a very happy life with his wife and children, his fields and his cattle, and so forth.
Then came a flood. One night the river rose until it overflowed its banks and flooded the whole village. Houses fell, men and animals were swept away and drowne, and everything was floating in the rush of the stream. Narada had to escape. With one hand he held his wife, and with the other,two of his children; another child was on his shoulders, and he was trying to ford this tremendous flood. After a few steps he found the current was too strong, and the child on his shoulders fell and was borne away. A cry of despair came from Narada. In trying to save that child, he lost his grasp on the others, and they also were lost. At last his wife, whom he clasped with all his might, was torn away by the current, and he was thrown on the bank, weeping and wailing in bitter lamentation.
Behind him there came a gentle voice, ‘My child, where is the water? You went to fetch a pitcher of water, I am waiting for you. You have been gone for quite half an hour.’
‘Half an hour!’ Narada exclaimed. Twelve whole years had passed through his mind, and all these scences had happened in half an hour!
And this is maya. In one form or another we are all in it. It is a most difficult and intricate state of things to understand. It has been preached in every country, taught everywhere, but only believed in by a few, because until we get the experiences ourselves we can not believe in it.
Time, the avenger of everything, comes, and nothing is left. He swallows up thesaint and sinner, the king and the peasant, the beautiful and the ugly; he leaves nothing. Everything is rushing towards that one goal, destruction. Our knowledge, our arts, our sciences—everything is rushing towards it. Non can stem the tide, none can hold it back for a minute. We may try to forget it, in the same way that persons in a plague stricken city try to create oblivion by drinking, dancing, and other vain attempts, and so becoming paralysed. So we are trying to forget, trying to create oblivion by all sorts of sense pleasures. And this is maya.
‘At every step we are knocked down by maya and shown that we are bound; and yet at the same moment, together with this blow, comes the other feeling that we are free. The same world that was the ghastly battlefield of maya is now changed into something good and beautiful.’