From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Mahalaya, MahAlaya, Mahaalaya

Mahālaya literally means ‘the great dissolution’.

In the works dealing with Haṭhayoga, the word ‘mahālaya’ or layayoga is used in the sense of samādhi.[1] The jiva or the individual soul loses his identity in Śiva or Paramātman in this.[2] It is just like a drop of water which gets merged in the sea or salt gets dissolved in the water.

The sādhana of layayoga has nine parts. The word Mahālaya also represents Mahālaya Amāvāsyā occurring in September-October, when the pitṛpakṣa[3] comes to an end. It also indicates the commencement of the Dasara festival from the next day.


  1. Samādhi is the highest super conscious experience.
  2. Paramātman is the supreme self.
  3. Pitṛpakṣa is the fortnight considered as extremely auspicious for performing obsequial rites to the departed ancestors.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore