daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī
mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante
māyām etāḿ taranti te

Translation of Bhagavad Gita 7.14

This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.

Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

The Supreme Personality of Godhead has innumerable energies, and all these energies are divine. Although the living entities are part of His energies and are therefore divine, due to contact with material energy their original superior power is covered. Being thus covered by material energy, one cannot possibly overcome its influence. As previously stated, both the material and spiritual natures, being emanations from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are eternal. The living entities belong to the eternal superior nature of the Lord, but due to contamination by the inferior nature, matter, their illusion is also eternal. The conditioned soul is therefore called nitya-baddha, or eternally conditioned. No one can trace out the history of his becoming conditioned at a certain date in material history. Consequently, his release from the clutches of material nature is very difficult, even though that material nature is an inferior energy, because material energy is ultimately conducted by the supreme will, which the living entity cannot overcome. Inferior, material nature is defined herein as divine nature due to its divine connection and movement by the divine will. Being conducted by divine will, material nature, although inferior, acts so wonderfully in the construction and destruction of the cosmic manifestation. The Vedas confirm this as follows: mayam tu prakritim vidyan mayinam tu maheshvaram. “Although maya [illusion] is false or temporary, the background of maya is the supreme magician, the Personality of Godhead, who is Maheshvara, the supreme controller.” (Shvetasvatara Upanishad 4.10)

Another meaning of guna is rope; it is to be understood that the conditioned soul is tightly tied by the ropes of illusion. A man bound by the hands and feet cannot free himself—he must be helped by a person who is unbound. Because the bound cannot help the bound, the rescuer must be liberated. Therefore, only Lord Krishna, or His bona fide representative the spiritual master, can release the conditioned soul. Without such superior help, one cannot be freed from the bondage of material nature. Devotional service, or Krishna consciousness, can help one gain such release. Krishna, being the Lord of illusory energy, can order this insurmountable energy to release the conditioned 2soul. He orders this release out of His causeless mercy on the surrendered soul and out of His paternal affection for the living entity, who is originally a beloved son of the Lord. Therefore surrender unto the lotus feet of the Lord is the only means to get free from the clutches of the stringent material nature.

The words mam eva are also significant. Mam means unto Krishna (Vishnu) only, and not Brahma or Shiva. Although Brahma and Shiva are greatly elevated and are almost on the level of Vishnu, it is not possible for such incarnations of rajo-guna (passion) and tamo-guna (ignorance) to release the conditioned soul from the clutches of maya. In other words, both Brahma and Shiva are also under the influence of maya. Only Vishnu is the master of maya; therefore He alone can give release to the conditioned soul. The Vedas (Shvetasvatara Upanishad 3.8) confirm this in the phrase tam eva viditva. or “Freedom is possible only by understanding Krishna.” Even Lord Shiva affirms that liberation can be achieved only by the mercy of Vishnu. Lord Shiva says, mukti-pradata sarvesam vishnur eva na samsayah: “There is no doubt that Vishnu is the deliverer of liberation for everyone.”

Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

“Then how will they be delivered from this bewilderment of the three modes?”

The word daivi comes from deva, which means “those who sport with sense enjoyment.” It refers to the jivas. Thus daiva makes it possessive: that belonging to the jivas for their pleasure. Daivi therefore means that which bewilders the jivas.

This maya is the bewilderer of the jivas who enjoy sense objects (daivi). It is made of the gunas, and by implication, it is a great noose of three strands (guna means rope). This maya, the external energy, belongs to me, the Supreme Lord. It is difficult to surpass. As a noose, it is impossible for anyone to untie or to cut. Touching his chest, the Lord says, “Have faith in my words. Anyone who surrenders unto me, the form of Syamasundara, crosses over this maya.”

Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:

7.14 (a) This Maya of Mine consists of the three Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Because it is created by Me, the Divine, for purpose of sport, it is divine in its power and therefore difficult to overcome. The word Maya is used for the effects of the three Gunas, because it has got the power of generating wonderful effects as in the case of the magic of Asuras and Raksasas. See the passages: ‘Then the excellent discus, the flaming Sudarsana, was despatched by the Lord to defend the boy. The thousand Mayas or wonderfully created weapons of the evil-designed Sambara were foiled one after another, by that quickly moving discus, for protecting the body of the boy’ (V. P., 1.19. 19-20). Here the term Maya does not signify the sense of ‘false’. Even with regard to magicians, when the term, Mayavin (one who possesses Maya) is used, there is origination of real impressions with the aid of certain incantations, herbs etc., though the objects created are illusory things. Accordingly the term Maya denotes the incantations, herbs etc., which have got the power of creating real impressions. Inasmuch as the sense of the term should be invariable, following the usage in all cases, the term Maya can be applied to the illusory objects, only in a secondary sense, while its primary sense in regard to the real impressions generated in the mind. It is just like in the statement ‘The cots cry.’ The Maya of the Lord, which is absolutely real and which consists of the Gunas, is alone taught in the texts like, ‘Know then Maya to be the Prakrti and the possessor of the Maya to be the great Lord’ (Sve. U., 4.10). It not only obscures the essential nature of the Lord but also creates the condition of the mind that sees its objects as enjoyable. Therefore, the entire universe, deluded by the Lord’s Maya, does not know the Lord who is of the nature of boundless beatitude. (On the other hand they feel objects set forth by Maya as enjoyable). Sri Krsna teaches the way of deliverance from Maya: (b) But those who take refuge in Me alone — Me whose resolves are always true, who has supreme compassion, and who is the refuge of all beings without exception and without consideration of their particular status — such persons shall pass beyond this Maya of Mine consisting of the three Gunas. The meaning is that they worship Me alone, renouncing the Maya. Why, then do all not take recourse to refuge in the Lord which is conducive to the worship of the Lord?

Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:

The question may arise as to who are those who are able to know Lord Krishna. To answer this the word daivi meaning divine is used. This divine, supernatural and wonderfully marvellous illusion of the Supreme Lord constituted of the power of Lord Krishna, consisting of the products of the gunas being the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance is extremely difficult to surmount. This is a well known fact and is proven by the fact that only a very minuscule portion of humanity surmount this maya or illusory impressions superimposed upon the mind in every generation. Yet it is also a fact that those who take exclusive shelter of Lord Krishna with loving affection in unwavering devotion are the only ones to cross over this insurmountable illusion that is otherwise impossible to navigate and by accepting His shelter they come to learn Him as He is. This is the purport.

Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:

Why has the delusion of maya or illusory impressions superimposed upon the mind been unable to be overcome since time immemorial? Lord Krishna reveals that it is because it is daivi meaning divine is this illusion. This is the purport. Illusion is that which beguiles and bewilders people. Maya by her activity of permeating creation deludes all people by her potent power of allusion which causes all people to follow desire and sense gratification. Therefore definitions of daivi yields such explanations as: lustrous, sport or play, desire to conquer, splendour, adoration, pleasure, imagination, brilliance and movement. But why is this maya divine? It is because it is under the control of the Supreme Lord and He alone is its controller. The Vyasa Yoga states that: Sri the Goddess of Fortune Laxsmi, Bhu the Goddess of the Earth and Durga the external material energy are the distinct forms of this grand illusion. Regarding Sri Laxsmi, she does not partake of the endless energies of the Supreme Lord as she has taken complete shelter in Him. Because of such propensity Brahma, Rudra and all the demigods do not possess even a minor portion of her manifestation. Having received the grace of the Supreme Lord by taking complete refuge within Him nothing can ever overcome her power. But yet the question will still persist of how can this maya be overcome? To answer this Lord Krishna replies with the words: mam eva ye prapadyante meaning only those who surrender unto Him. Those who renounce all else and take exclusive shelter of Him alone can surmount this maya. Those who humbly serve and devoutly worship the spiritual master in adoration, such worship surely reaches unto the Supreme Lord because they have realised that their holy preceptors greatness is due to the fact that the Supreme Lord has manifested within His heart. The Narada Purana states: The madhya or intermediate humans duly propitiate the holy preceptor due to the Supreme Lord manifesting within him. The uttama or topmost human beings propitiate all beings as they recognise the Supreme Lord in all beings. In the Bhagavat Purana it states: That the Supreme Lord through the form of consciousness which pervades the mind of the spiritual master teaches the humble aspirant true wisdom about Himself.

Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:

It is stated in the Vedic scriptures that the flowing of the qualities of Lord Krishna’s divine potency known as maya or illusory impressions superimposed upon the mind is without a beginning or an end. In the Svestasvatara Upanisad IV.V it states that by the agency of maya unlimited beings are produced possessing like qualities. So it is not possible for those embodied beings deluded and controlled by maya and to ever receive divine benedictions and such being the case they will never be eligible to overcome the delusory effects of maya. Lord Krishna speaks thus to address this point of overcoming the potent effects of maya So marvellous is this wondrous illusion which is perceived in prakriti or the material substratum evolving through the three gunas or the modes of goodness, passion and nescience into physical forms which are all totally controlled by the Self- Effulgent, Supreme Lord full of eternity, knowledge and bliss, who although omnipresent is never touched or influenced by the gunas or prakriti or anything animate or inanimate. There is also nothing which a has a similar nature to maya as its function is one of a kind. In the Svetasvatara Upanisad IV.X it states: One should know that maya’s nature is illusory and that the omniscient and omnipotent Supreme Lord is its source filtered into material existence through the three gunas and unable to be surmounted by hundreds of processes and thousands of techniques unless and until the grace of the Supreme Lord is attained. According to the Katha Upanisad V.XIII: He who is the constant within the inconstant, the intelligence among the intelligent, the one within the many and who grants all desires. In the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad I.IV.X it states: Whoever among the demigods becomes awakened to this indeed becomes it, this applies likewise to elevated beings and also to advanced humans. The atma or eternal soul within embodied beings is without limitations but among embodied beings only those who are able to disconnect themselves from all ego sense of I- ness and my-ness and external desires and renouncing all other goals accept the Supreme Lord Krishna as the exclusive goal of their life endeavour and spiritual practices. Thus worshipping Him wholeheartedly as omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient controller of maya, taking total refuge in Him solely and faithfully following the six activities favourable for spiritual advancement such as enthusiasm, endeavouring with confidence, patience, following the Vedic injunctions, abandoning the association of those not devoted to the Vedic culture and accepting and following the instructions of the authorised guru from the bonafide disciplic succession as revealed within the Vedic scriptures; one is with devotion and unshakeable perseverance able to overcome this insurmountable maya. The word eva or only is used in the sense of decisiveness as in exclusively. In the Vamana Purana the child saint Prahlad says: Those highly evolved persons who have taken refuge in the Supreme Lord, infinite, immutable, without a second, the foremost of all lords, the God of Gods, the auspicious bestower of liberation, the Lord of Laxsmi, the goddess of fortune and the master of Garuda, His carrier never have to be subjected to chastisement by Yamaraj the demigod in charge of punishment in diverse hells.

Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:

7.14 Hi, since; esa, this, aforesaid; daivi, divine; Maya mama, of Mine, of God, of Visnu, which (Maya) is My own; and which is guna-mayi, constituted by the gunas; is duratyaya, difficult to cross over; therefore, this being so, ye, those who; wholeheartedly prapadyante, take refuge; mam eva, in Me alone, in Me who am the Master of Maya and who am their own Self, by giving up all forms of rites and duties; te, they; taranti, cross over; etam, this; mayam, Maya, which deludes all beings. That is to say, they become freed from the bondage of the world. ‘If it is that those who resort to You cross over this Maya, why then do not all take refuge in You alone?’ This is being answered:

Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:

7.14 Daivi etc. Deva means ‘one who plays’. What is born of (or exists in) him is daivi ‘play’. Hence, the meaning is : ‘This is My play’. Due to this [play-trick], the [Strands] Sattva etc., even though they are not really different from the Supreme Brahman, the Pure Consciousness, manifest as different from That. This [differentiation] itself accounts for their secondary nature i.e., the nature of being an object of enjoyment i.e., being dependent on the existence of the enjoyer. This peculiarity of dual-nature is inexplicable for the persons of mundane life. Hence to them it is a trick-of-Illusion. Therefore, those who have realised the light of the Brahman, the Supreme Reality, and find the universe as not distinct from that [Brahman], they [alone] cross over the trick-off-Illusion which is of the nature of manifesting in duality and is in the form of the dependent status of the Strands, Sattva etc. This is the idea indicated by ‘alone’ in ‘Me alone’. On the other hand those who would find just the manifestation of duality as they [appear to] exist – they do not across over the trick-of-Illusion. Thus it is rightly said ‘I am not in them (in the beings of the Sattva etc.) etc.’

Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:

daivi hy esa guna-mayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te

Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:

daivī — transcendental; hi — certainly; eṣā — this; guṇa-mayī — consisting of the three modes of material nature; mama — My; māyā — energy; duratyayā — very difficult to overcome; mām — unto Me; eva — certainly; ye — those who; prapadyante — surrender; māyām etām — this illusory energy; taranti — overcome; te — they.