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
daivī—divine; hi—certainly; eṣhā—this; guṇa-mayī—consisting of the three modes of nature; mama—my; māyā—God’s external energy; duratyayā—very difficult to overcome; mām—unto me; eva—certainly; ye—who; prapadyante—surrender; māyām etām—this Maya; taranti—cross over; te—they
This divine illusion of Mine caused by the qualities, is difficult to cross over; those who take refuge in Me alone, cross over this illusion.
This verse is of very great importance to all seekers. What is this Maya? What is the way to go beyond it? These two are fundamental questions. The entire universe is under the power of Maya, cosmic illusion. Its true nature should be understood first, then the seeker has to follow the way suggested by the Lord to go beyond it.
Four attributes are mentioned to describe the nature of Maya:
1. Daivi: This cosmic illusion Maya is divine, possessing transcendental power. Maya is of inscrutable, infinite power. Man and the Devas also are deluded by its power, and plunged in the flood of samsara, the cycle of birth and death. Material power, intellectual subtlety, artistic genius, wealth and glory, are all inadequate even to understand it, much less to cross over. Since it is divine, the Divine alone could deal with it.
2. Gunamayi: This Maya is made of three qualities – sattva, rajas, and tamas. Maya has no form. The qualities themselves constitute Maya. If these qualities are removed from the mind, Maya disappears. The whole world is possessed by those qualities and is deluded.
3. Mama: Maya is the supreme power of the Lord. It is under His control and acts according to His command. He may withdraw the power into Himself or project it outside at His will. Though Maya has power to delude the whole universe, yet it is just an instrument in the hands of God. Like servant before the master Maya obeys the Lord. It is inscrutable, mysterious, and wonderful to those who are under its power. To the Lord and the perfected yogis, it is only a non-existent reality. That which is not, that is Maya. That which is non-existent and yet creates the illusion of Reality is Maya. The world is not, yet it appears to exist. The individual self ‘ahamkara’ is not, yet it appears to exist. The reality is covered up and what is unreal is made to appear as the real. Such is the mystery of Maya. But to the wise, it is nothing. The ocean may be difficult to cross for the ordinary man, but to Garutman it is no more than a small canal. He flies over it by the superior power of his wings.
4. Duratyaya: It is difficult to cross over Maya, but it is not impossible. Those who yield to the temptations of sensual pleasures, who are attached to material things cannot cross the ocean of Maya. All spiritual sadhana is intended to eliminate the temptations of the flesh and the delusions of the mind.
Having described the power of Maya in the first line, the Lord points the way to cross over it in the second line. Those who take refuge in the Lord transcend Maya. Devotion to the Lord, and surrender to the Lord is the way to overcome Maya. ‘Surrender to Me. I will take you beyond Maya’. is the Lord’s command. Sankara says that devotion to the Lord’s lotus feet is the strong boat that will carry people beyond the ocean of samsara.
Human skill and intelligence is indeed capable of many worldly victories and achievements. Inventions are made, empires are built, battles are fought and won by human intelligence and skill. But when man stands confronted with the cosmic illusion, he is by himself powerless. Only by surrender to the Supreme Lord, and by His grace alone, can man cross the frontiers of samsara, and enter the land of bliss and blessedness.
Service of the sages and Rishis who had already gone beyond Maya is also of greatest help to the spiritual aspirant. Having crossed the mire of delusion, they help mankind to do so.
The Lord is perfectly clear in his declaration ‘mam eva‘- Me only – is His command. Nothing else, no one else, can work the miracle. If one surrenders to the objective world he will suffer endless misery. If he surrenders to the Lord, he will obtain the highest rewards of freedom and bliss. The choice lies in man. Each one has to take the decision himself. No one can decide for another. The Lord’s promise that he would take man beyond maya, should give infinite strength to man. This verse should be read and re-read, and the divine light by which the enveloping darkness will all be dispelled will flow.
Devotion to the Lord means to have unswerving faith in Him, perform sacred works, meditate on the Self, cultivate virtues, and such other practices that purify the mind.
Swami Vivekananda Says —
We find that with all this, with this terrible fact before us, in the midst of sorrow and suffering, even in this world where life and death are synonymous, even here, there is a still small voice that is ringing through all ages, through every country, and in every heart: “This My Maya is divine, made up of qualities, and very difficult to cross. Yet those that come unto Me, cross the river of life.” “Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This is the voice that is leading us forward. Man has heard it, and is hearing it all through the ages. This voice comes to men when everything seems to be lost and hope has fled, when man’s dependence on his own strength has been crushed down, and everything seems to melt away between his fingers, and life is a hopeless ruin. Then he hears it. This is called religion. [Source]
We have to come to this idea: “This My Maya is divine.” It is My activity [My] divinity. “[My Maya] is hard to cross, but those that take refuge in me [go beyond Maya].” But you find out that it is very difficult to cross this ocean [of Maya by] yourself. You cannot. It is the old question — hen and egg. If you do any work, that work becomes the cause and produces the effect. That effect [again] becomes the cause and produces the effect. And so on. If you push this down, it never stops. Once you set a thing in motion, there is no more stopping. I do some work, good or bad, [and it sets up a chain reaction] … I cannot stop now. It is impossible for us to get out from this bondage [by ourselves]. It is only possible if there is someone more powerful than this law of causation, and if he takes mercy on us and drags us out. And we declare that there is such a one — god. There is such a being, all merciful.[Source]
“He that followeth Me, walketh not in darkness”, saith the Lord [John 8.12].[Source]
Excerpt from ‘Spiritual Treasures: Letters of Swami Turiyananda’ —
It is avidya, or ignorance, which is the field of lust and anger. Patanjali defines avidya as follows: “To regard the non-eternal as eternal, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasant, and the non-Atman as the Atman-this is ignorance.” [II.5]
In other words, it is ignorance which makes one perceive the unreal world as real, the impure body as pure, happiness in painful sense enjoyments, and to consider wife and chil dren none of whom is really one’s own – as one’s own. These false perceptions are caused by ignorance. This avidya is without beginning: there is no way of ascertaining when it originated. It is also without end in the sense that until one attains illumination by the grace of God, it remains and is not destroyed. This ignorance does not allow us to move towards God. So Krishna said in the Gita, “Those who take refuge in me alone shall cross over this maya.” [VII.14] Our duty is to take refuge in him and lead a God-centred life.
Question: What is the nature of Maya?
Answer: It is divine, composed of the three gunas, subject to the Lord and difficult to cross over.
Question: What is the way to cross over Maya?
Answer: Surrender to the Lord and devotion to Him is the way to go beyond Maya.