In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna says, “This divine energy of mine (maya) is very difficult to overcome. Maya, or illusion, in essence is our forgetfulness of God. It is the power that deludes the pure spirit to forget its identity – to forget its eternal nature and eternal relationship with God. So remembering God and our relationship with Him is the substance of spiritual life.

Maya operates through the process of creating forgetfulness of God on one side and attachments to sense gratification on the other, specifically according to the gunas, the modes of nature, which one is influenced by. The nature of the soul is that it is pleasure seeking and maya, knowing our thirst for this, knows exactly what will entice us according to the modes we are controlled by. So she creates mirages of temporary pleasure that are never fully satisfying.

For those who are greedy or very lusty, maya easily takes their rope of raja guna (the mode of passion) and connects their consciousness to sex pleasures, to lots of money, fame and prestige.

People who are influenced by tamo guna (the mode of ignorance) don’t even care so much about these things, they just like to intoxicate themselves, so the mode of ignorance binds their conscious to lower modes of sense enjoyment.

For someone who is rather self controlled, who is highly cultured, who is moral, and follows religious discipline in his life, influenced by sattva guna (the mode of goodness) they will not be so easily attracted by the lower modes of nature. Therefore maya has to somehow or other influence them  through the types of sense gratification found through piety, charity and poetry, etc. In this way, maya ties that rope around their heart and connects to objects of these forms of sense gratification in the mode of satva guna.

A Bhakti-yogi has to have the power of discrimination to understand how maya works and understand philosophically the difference between the mirage and what is real.  Once we have knowledge of the truth we have to detach ourselves from that attachment. To the extent we are not attached, to that extent we are not puppets, repeatedly suffering in the hands of maya. To restrain from the objects and fix our attachment to God one has to experience a higher taste or one will not be able to maintain such restraint. That higher taste comes by the grace of God through our sincere practice. – Radhanath Swami 


daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī / mama māyā duratyayā

mām eva ye prapadyante / māyām etāḿ taranti te

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. – Bhagavad-gita 7.14