Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 7, Verse 14

दैवी ह्येषा गुणमयी मम माया दुरत्यया |
मामेव ये प्रपद्यन्ते मायामेतां तरन्ति ते || 14||

daivī hyeṣhā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te

daivīdivine; hicertainly; eṣhāthis; guṇa-mayīconsisting of the three modes of nature; mamamy; māyāone of God’s energies. It that veils God’s true nature from souls who have not yet attained the eligibility for God-realization; duratyayāvery difficult to overcome; māmunto me; evacertainly; yewho; prapadyantesurrender; māyām etāmthis Maya; taranticross over; tethey

Translation

BG 7.14: My divine energy Maya, consisting of the three modes of nature, is very difficult to overcome. But those who surrender unto me cross over it easily.

Commentary

Some people declare the material energy to be mithyā (non-existent). They say that we perceive Maya only because we are in ignorance, but if become seated in knowledge, then Maya will cease to exist. They claim that the illusion will be dispelled and we will understand that the soul itself is the Ultimate reality. However, this verse of the Bhagavad Gita negates such a theory. Shree Krishna states that Maya is not an illusion; it is an energy of God. The Śhwetāśhvatar Upaniṣhad too states:

māyāṁ tu prakṛitiṁ vidyānmāyinaṁ tu maheśhvaram (4.10)[v13]

“Maya is the energy (prakṛiti), while God is the Energetic.” The Ramayan states:

so dāsī raghubīra ki samujheṅ mithyā sopi [v14]

“Some people think Maya is mithyā (non-existent), but factually it is an energy that is engaged in the service of God.”

Here, Shree Krishna says that Maya is very difficult to overcome because it is his energy. If anyone conquers Maya, it means that person has conquered God himself. Since no one can defeat God, no one can defeat Maya either. And because the mind is made from Maya, no yogi, jñānī, ascetic, or karmī can successfully control the mind merely by self-effort.

Arjun could then ask, “How then will I overcome Maya?” Shree Krishna gives the answer in the second line of the verse. He says, “Arjun, if you surrender to me, the Supreme Lord, then by my grace, I will take you across the ocean of material existence. I will indicate to Maya that this soul has become mine. Please leave him.” When the material energy gets the indication from God, it easily releases such a soul from its bondage. Maya says, “My work was only this much—to keep troubling the soul until it reaches the feet of God. Since this soul has surrendered to God, my work is done.”

Understand this through an example from everyday life. Let us say that you wish to meet your friend and reach the gate of his house. He has a board on his fence, saying “Beware of dog.” His pet German Shepherd is standing in the lawn and, as a trained guard dog, growls at you menacingly. You decide to try the back gate and go around the fence. However, the Alsatian comes around too and snarls furiously, conveying the message, “I dare you to step into this house.” When you have no other option, you call out to your friend. He emerges from his house and sees his dog troubling you. He calls out, “No, Smokey! Come and sit here.” The dog is immediately pacified and comes and sits by his master’s side. Now, you open the gate fearlessly and walk in. Similarly, the material energy that is troubling us is subservient to God. By our own efforts we cannot overcome it. The way to go across it is to surrender to God. This is emphatically conveyed by Shree Krishna in this verse. If we can cross over Maya so simply by surrendering to God, then why do people not surrender to him? Shree Krishna explains this in the following verse.