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 claim that Maya is mithyā (non-existent).  They say that the material energy Maya is a perception created due to our ignorance, but if someone is placed in knowledge, Maya will cease to exist. The soul itself is the Ultimate Reality, and once we understand that, all illusion will be dispelled. However, this theory is negated by the Bhagavad Gita in this verse. Shree Krishna has already stated that Maya is an extension of His energy and not an illusion.

The Śhwetāśhvatar Upaniṣhad too states:

māyāṁ tu prakṛitiṁ vidyānmāyinaṁ tu maheśhvaram   (4.10)

“Maya is the energy (prakṛiti), while God is the Energetic.” 

The Ramayan states:

so dāsī raghubīra ki samujheṅ mithyā sopi

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

Shree Krishna has mentioned here that because Maya is His energy, it is difficult to overcome, and if someone claims they have defeated Maya, that would mean they have defeated God. No one can conquer God; therefore, Maya also cannot be conquered easily. The human mind is made of Maya, merely by self-effort no yogi, jñānī, ascetic, or karmī can successfully control the mind.

One could then ask, “Is it impossible to overcome Maya?” The second line of this verse has the answer to this question. Shree Krishna says, “Those who surrender themselves to Me, the Supreme Lord, then by My grace, they would smoothly cross the ocean of material existence. I will instruct Maya to leave this soul, now that it has become Mine.” On God’s instructions Maya, the material energy of God simply releases the surrendered soul from its clutches. It says, “My job is to keep troubling the soul until it surrenders at the feet of God, once the soul reaches there, my job is done.”

Here is an example from everyday life. Assume that you visit a friend who has a large house, outside on the gate, a board says, “Beware of dog.” When you look inside, a trained guard dog is standing on the lawn. As soon as it spots you, it starts growling menacingly, scared you decide to take the back gate. But even before you reach the back of the house, it is waiting there for you and snarls furiously, as if saying, “You dare step into this house.” You have no choice, and you shout your friend’s name aloud. Hearing all the commotion, your friend comes and finds you at the gate troubled by his dog. He sternly says to the dog, “No, Tommy, that is a friend, we need to let him in, come and sit down here.” Hearing his master’s command, the dog silently goes and sits near him. You can now open the gate and let yourself in without fear.

In the same way, we are in the clutches of Maya, the material energy. Although it is subservient to God, it keeps troubling us so that we keep moving towards God. By our own efforts, we cannot defeat Maya; only when we surrender completely to God, by his grace, we can cross the ocean of material existence. The next question in our mind would be, “If it is so easy to defeat Maya, then why is it that most of us fail?” Shree Krishna has elaborated on that in the next verse.