daivee hyeshaa gunamayee mama maayaa duratyayaa |
maameva ye prapadyante maayaametaam taranti te || 14 ||

For this, my divine maaya, comprised of the gunaas, is hard to cross. Only they who seek my refuge, cross over my maaya.

daivee : divine
hi : for
eshaa : this
gunamayee : of the gunaas
mama : my
maayaa : maayaa
duratyayaa : hard to cross
maam : my
eva : only
ye : those
prapadyante : seeks my refuge
maayaam : maaya
etaam : this
taranti : crosses over
te : they

At this point in the seventh chapter, Shri Krishna has framed an interesting problem for us. If our mind with its senses is attracted to sense objects because of the play of the three gunaas, and if Ishvara is beyond the three gunaas, we need to somehow pierce through gunaas to contact Ishvara. If we cannot do it with our mind with its sense organs, how do we do it? We need some additional help. Shri Krishna says that the only solution is to surrender to Ishvara.

First, let us understand what exactly is preventing us from contacting Ishvara. Shri Krishna says that there is something called maaya is the barrier between us and Ishvara. What exactly is this maaya? It is nothing special, it is the 3 gunaas that saw in the previous shloka. Where is this maaya located? Not too far away. It is in our mind, and we can see its effect daily. Just when we think we are studying Gita and are immune to its effect, we suddenly get an angry thought about a friend or a co-worker. That is maaya. Now if maaya is the moat that blocks access to Ishvara, how do we cross it?

Shri Krishna says that in order to cross over maaya, we have to surrender to Ishvara completely. This type of complete surrender is indicated by the word “prapadyante” in the shloka. It literally means falling down at someone’s feet. To visualize it, imagine that the devotee is holding onto Ishvara’s feet, and also keeping one hand under Ishvara’s feet. With this arrangement, the devotee will not run away from Ishvara, and Ishvara will also not run away from the devotee.

Now, what does surrender mean in practice? As long as we assert ourselves physically, emotionally and intellectually, as long as we emphasize our individuality and assert our ego, we will strengthen maaya. So therefore, we need to de-emphasize our individuality and strengthen our devotion to Ishvara. When we surrender ourselves to Ishvara, we give up the notion that “I do everything” or “I own everything”. It is all Ishvara’s maaya. By distancing ourselves from maaya, we get closer to Ishvara.

Moreover, Shri Krishna says that maaya is divine, which means that it is supported by Ishvara but it has reality on its own. In our lives, however, we still rely on maaya for support. We rely on our savings, friends, family, job, education and so on as our refuge if times get tough. But all this is still the product of maaya. Once we shift our thinking that maaya cannot be a support, we will rely on the cause of maaya for support instead of maaya. And that cause is Ishvara. We can only enjoy bungee jumping when we have a strong rope and support. Similarly, we can enjoy the play of maaya if we have tethered ourselves to Ishvara.

How should we practice this daily? We should continue performing our duties as we saw in the previous chapters. What we should change, however, is our attitude. Whenever we start giving importance worldly things including people, objects and situations, we should train ourselves to shift our attention to Ishvara who is behind everything. But we should not use this to justify all our wrongdoings. As we saw in a previous chapter, prakriti or nature is a self-regulating system. If we do something that is against the laws of nature, it will come back to us as a punishment.

So then, having understood this, why do people not seek Ishvara?