The significant word used in this connection is yan-maya, or cin-maya. In Sanskrit grammar, the word mayaṭ is used in the sense of "transformation," and also in the sense of "abundance." The Māyāvādī philosophers interpret that the word yan-maya, or cin-maya, indicates that the living entity is always equal to the Supreme. But one has to consider whether this affix, mayaṭ, is used for "abundance" or for "transformation." The living entity never possesses anything exactly in the same proportion as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, this mayaṭ affix cannot be used to mean that the individual living entity is quantitatively equal with the Lord. The individual living entity never has complete knowledge; otherwise, how could he have come under the control of māyā, or the material energy? The word "abundant" can be accepted, therefore, only in proportion to the magnitude of the living entity. The spiritual oneness of the Supreme Lord and the living entities is never to be accepted as homogeneity. Each and every living entity is individual. If homogeneous oneness is accepted, then by the liberation of one individual soul, all other individual souls would have been liberated immediately. But the fact is that every individual soul is differently enjoying and suffering in the material world.
As mentioned above, the word mayaṭ is also used in the sense of "transformation"; sometimes it is also used to mean "by-product." The impersonalist theory is that Brahman Himself has accepted different types of bodies and that this is His līlā, or pastime. There are, however, many hundreds and thousands of species of life in different standards of living conditions, such as human beings, demigods, animals, birds and beasts, and if all of them were plenary expansions of the Supreme Absolute Truth, then there would be no question of liberation, because Brahman would already be liberated. Another interpretation put forward by the Māyāvādīs is that in every millennium different types of bodies are manifest, and when the millennium is closed all the different bodies, or expansions of Brahman, automatically become one, ending all different manifestations. Then in the next millennium, according to this theory, Brahman again expands in different bodily forms. If we accept this theory, then Brahman becomes subject to change. But this cannot be accepted. From the Vedānta-sūtra we understand that Brahman is by nature joyful. He cannot, therefore, change Himself into a body which is subject to so many painful conditions. Actually, the living entities are infinitesimal parts and parcels of Brahman, and as such they are prone to be covered by the illusory energy. As explained before, the particles of Brahman are like sparks blissfully dancing within a fire, but there is a chance of their falling from the fire to smoke, although smoke is another condition of fire. This material world is just like smoke, and the spiritual world is like a blazing fire. The innumerable living entities are prone to fall down to the material world from the spiritual world when influenced by the illusory energy, and it is also possible for the living entity to be liberated again when by cultivation of real knowledge he becomes completely freed from the contamination of the material world.