Maya is a Danava. He is a great architect of the Danavas, Daityas, and sometimes even devas. He is one of the kings of Danavas. During the Mahabharata, Maya built the Indraprastha sabha for the Pandavas and Krishna. He has a lot of mystic powers. He is known as the acharya of all the mayavis.
- Father: Kashyapa
- Mother: Danu
- Brothers: Vaishwanara, Viprachitti, Swarbhanu, Vrishaparva, Puloman, Ayomukha, Namuchi, others
- Wife: Hema
- Sons: Mayavi, Dundubhi, Bala
- Mandodari was his adopted daughter
Kashyapa, the son of Prajapati Maricha, married 13 daughters of Daksha. Danu, one of his wives, gave birth to many sons, including Maya. These sons began to be called Danavas after their mother.
Becoming an Architect
Even from his boyhood, Maya was very proficient in architecture. Soon, he decided to do penance in the Himalayas. Lord Brahma was soon pleased by his penance and granted him unrivaled skill in architecture. Brahma also made Maya the architect of the devas and asuras alike. Maya started building magnificent mansions for anybody. He was also appointed a king of the Danavas.
Once there was a dancing show in Swarga. Because it was a time of friendliness between the devas and asuras, Maya was invited to Swarga to watch the performance. All the dancing Apsaras were very graceful and beautiful. But, while watching the performance, Maya was particularly attracted to the Apsara Hema. Hema also fell in love with Maya. When the Devas came to know about this, they decided to marry Hema with Maya.
Birth of Children
Maya and Hema went to a valley to the south of the Himalayas. In that valley, Maya built a city called Hemapura. Soon, two sons were born to them. These sons were named Mayavi and Dundubhi. But Maya really wanted a daughter. He started praying to Lord Shiva to bless him with a daughter.
Meanwhile, one day, an Apsara named Madhura came to meet Shiva after observing the Somavara vrata. At that time, Parvati was not home. Shiva was attracted to Madhura and lovingly embraced her. When Parvati came to know of this, she was enraged and cursed Madhura, turning her into a frog. But Parvati said that in twelve years, Madhura would turn back into a woman.
When she turned into a frog, Madhura fell into a well. Twelve years later, she transformed back into a woman. While Maya was doing penance to have a daughter, he saw Madhura as a woman in the well. Maya assumed that she was the daughter given to him by Shiva. Maya took her with him to his palace. Maya named the woman Mandodari. This Mandodari later married the rakshasa Ravana.
An asura named Bala was also the son of Maya. He was the ruler of Atala (section of Patala loka).
Receiving Control of Talatala
Maya built three cities for the three daityas Tarakaksha, Kamalakaksha, and Vidyunmali (sons of Taraksura). When Shiva destroyed these beautiful cities called the Tripuras, Maya was really upset. But later, Shiva was pleased with Maya and gave him control of the loka called Talatala (section of Patala). Since that time, Maya has been protected by Shiva.
Building a Palace in Vindhya
Once, Maya sought refuge from Vishnu. Vishnu granted Maya the protection he wanted. To express his gratitude for this, Maya built a beautiful palace called Sudharma for the devas. When the asuras heard of this, they were angry at Maya for building such a palace for the devas. The asuras decided to attack Maya. Terrified, Maya temporarily fled southwards from Hemapura with his family and reached the Vindhya mountains. There, he built a mansion. He made a woman named Swayamprabha the guardian of this palace. Rama and Lakshmana came across this palace and met Swayamprabha while they were searching for Sita.
Maya had befriended a Naga named Takshaka and was living in the Khandava forest with him. When Agni was trying to burn the Khandava forest to cure his indigestion, he asked Arjuna and Krishna for help and they agreed. At that time, Maya was hiding in the forest in the guise of Takshaka. When the forest lit on fire, Maya ran out. Krishna aimed his chakra at him, but Maya fell at the feet of Arjuna and sought protection. Arjuna stopped Krishna from attacking and thus saved Maya. (For the full story, see Agni)
Construction of Indraprastha
After Khandavadaha, Maya became a loyal friend of Arjuna. He asked Arjuna what he could do in return for saving him from Krishna and the fire. Arjuna said that he didn’t want anything, but Maya insisted. Krishna then suggested that Maya can build a palace for them in Indraprastha. Maya built a very grand palace with many illusions for the Pandavas. This palace is where the Pandavas performed the Rajasuya yagna.
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