By Swami Harshananda
Derived from the root lī’ (to dissolve, to disappear) the word ‘laya’ has been used in several senses.
When it refers to the dissolution of the created world (for e.g., sṛṣṭi, sthiti and laya), the term ‘pralaya’ is more frequently used. (See PRALAYA for details.)
In the works on yoga, it refers to the samādhi state wherein the mind is completely merged in the object of meditation.
In Advaita Vedānta, it is considered as the first obstacle to the realisation of ātman, the others being vikṣepa (distraction), kaṣāya (failure to rest on the ātman due to attachments) and rasāsvāda (enjoying the taste of bliss in lower samādhi). Here, laya is the relapsing of the mind into sleep instead of meditating on the ātman.
In music it refers to the maintenance of the speed with which a song is begun to be sung.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore