Meaning of Maya and Overcoming it's Effects & 4 Types of Devotees (60)


Lesson 60 starts with antidote or solution to ‘escaping' or overcoming illusion of maya/mohini's trap of 3 gunas (tama, raja, sattva). Then we learn to identify 4 types of devotees (bhaktas) of God – which ever human goes through. Lowest to highest: Arta > Artharthin > Jijnasu > Jnani.

Source: Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – verse 14, 15, 16


  • Krishna pointed out cause of saṃsāra OR human problems in 13th verse.
    • Seeking:
      • security from insecure objects.
      • permanence from impermanent objects.
      • fulfillment from the finite objects of the world.
      • happiness from sorrow giving objects
    • Expectations never fulfilled. Leading to disappointment being “just part of life”. Thus, misplaced seeking is the cause of misery.
    • Also Verse 13 explains reason for wars (microcosmic conflict on macrocosmic scale):
      1. Sāmānya kāraṇam: General words.
        Viśeṣa kāraṇam: How I use those words. Create hate or establish peace.
      2. Person only knows aparā, which is always incomplete. Believe that conquering more aparā will give fulfillment.
    • In Verse 13 we also established, once problem is diagnosed then any solution will never again waste my time. We now know Aparā-prakṛti cannot give security, fulfillment, permanence. Parā-prakṛti alone can.
  • SOLUTION (saṃsāra nivṛtti kāraṇam; Cause of saṃsāra cessation) given in verse 14-19. Krishna calls this by several names…
    • Īśvara prāptiḥ (discovery / achievement / ‘arrival’)
    • Īśvara śaraṇāgati (surrendering to God).
    • Īśvara bhakti (acknowledging __ / attachment to / faith onto / fondness for / devotion)
  • Now question will be, what is bhakti? Verse 14 begins…


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 14:

daivī hyeṣā guṇamayī mama māyā duratyayā |
māmeva ye prapadyante māyāmetāṃ taranti te ||

This divine māyā of mine which consists of (three) guṇas is indeed difficult to cross over. Only those people who surrender to Me cross over this māyā.


  • Māyā is like ice rink. Fun. But once fall (which everyone does), very hard to get up because everything slippery. Similarly, saṃsāra (product of Māyā) is like the ice rink. It’s slippery. Provides no motionless stability.
  • Problem is people HOLD onto slippery environment (aparā), unable to tell it apart from what is relatively solid & eternally solid (parā). So Krishna reminds: Before tragedy strikes, hold on to Me (parā). That way, have ‘something' to fall back on.
  • eṣā māyā: this aparā prakṛti, which is saguṇa, savikāra (undergoing decomposition), savikalpa (variety, differentiated) is māyā.
    • What is glory of Māyā? Capacity to delude/tempt the mind AWAY FROM Īśvara.
    • Brings OBJECTION from saṃsāri: What’s the point of religion? Who cares about God. We can manage everything ourselves.
      • Such arrogance comes ONLY when things are going nicely NOW. Attitude is effect of māyā or mohinī delusion.
    • What does it mean to say “Māyā deludes”? It’s generated appearances are other then what is shown to my perception.
      • EG: Oasis water on desert. Mirage appearance is dishonest about it’s reality. False advertisement! Thus “I see THAT which is NOT”.
      • In what way does it delude? Turning mind from parā-prakṛti TO aparā-prakṛti.
  • Therefore, duratyayā, meaning māyā is so powerful in deluding that we can NEVER transcend it by own intellect.
    • Why not? Because māyā is too subtle to identify. We can not tell we’re under it’s influence/spell.
      • Just like some people can’t tell if they’re drunk.
      • Just like first time drug users can’t identify if the drug is working. It creeps in so slowly.
      • Just like youth of past would call today’s youth, mobile drug addicts. While today’s youth consider mobile a “normal”. While today’s youth calls past yoyo’s/marbles, an outdated phenomena.
    • SUMMARY: duratyayā – māyā cannot be easily conquered.
  • Why is maya not easily conquered or overcome? Because guṇamayī: meaning māyā is made up of 3 gunās, which TRAP. Either tama, raja, sattva.
    • EG:
      1. Tamaḥ: Many drugs & intoxicants like alcohol. Create either relaxation or primitive sensual desire.
      2. Rajaḥ: Achievement, fun, entertainment.
      3. Sattvaḥ: Intellectual pursuits. Professionals in their fields. Skills.
    • Since entire universe made up of 3 gunā, means everyone is addicted to combination of guṇā. They are like tea flavours. Endless flavours. Something for all.
    • Much more detail on guṇa in CH14.
  • And where is this guṇamayī OR aparā-prakṛti located? Daivī, belongs to Me (the parā-prakṛti which aparā depends on).
  • What is SOLUTION to not being thrown around like laundry by māyā washing machine?
    • Only solution is, māmeve ye prapadyante. Those people who surrender to Me (parā), take shelter in Me humbly, without being arrogance. Meaning:
      • Such people do not say “I do not require God or religion in my perfectly smooth life”.
      • Such people understand that we cannot cross saṃsāra independently. We require Īśvara kṛpā (grace).
        • And only Īśvara will give ācāryaḥ. Ācāryaḥ will give śāstram. Therefore hold onto śāstram, not ācāryaḥ.
        • Because scriptures clarify remaining doubts, guide you in life and teach you ultimate security is already yourself.
  • 2nd line conclusion: Those who surrender to Me, who practice bhakti, taranti etāṃ māyām, they alone will cross over this māyā.
    • Remember Bhakti meaning: acknowledging __ / attachment to / faith onto / fondness for.
    • So 2nd line says: Bhakta’s alone will cross over māyā. Meaning bhakti is the SOLUTION.
    • Krishna calls “prāptiḥ” (discovery). OR śaraṇāgati (surrender).
  • Brings up question, what exactly is bhakti?
    • Willingness to let go of control to a HIGHER reality which can help me transform my life.
    • Such Bhakta (devotee) goes through 3 stages of bhakti:
      1. Manda bhakti: I use Lord as means for worldly ends. Artha, kāma, dharma. Lower form of bhakti. God is MEANS. Worldly things are END.
      2. Madhyama bhakti: Gradually bhakti matures. Lord is no more MEANS for worldly ENDS. But God is end in itself. Dharma dominates.
        • In this stage, one discovered limitations of all things. Nothing in world is worth depending on. Thus this stage leads to Bhagavān becoming GOAL of life. In other words, person goes from WORLD dependence to GOD dependence.
      3. Uttama bhakti: Final level. Bhagavān is neither means nor end. All that is here is ONE without a second.
        • It is understood real Īśvara sought is never away nor different from self.
        • Only uttama leads to mokṣa (total freedom).
    • SUMMARY: Start manda > graduate madhyama > culminate in uttama.
    1. Many people not turn to bhakti because do not have suffice puṇyam. Thus do not believe nor interested in Īśvara, and turn away.
    2. While others are blessed owning to past puṇya-karma, thus helplessly feel attracted to subject of God.
      • Thus on beginning, scriptures temporarily present various forms of Īśvara for our worship.
      • Starts like math. Find X. We don’t know X. Except we need to discover X.
      • People with suffice puṇya-karma, God is like “X”. Until they know EXACTLY what God is, one holds onto their idea of God (Īśvara).


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 15:

na māṃ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ prapadyante narādhamāḥ |
māyayā'pahṛtajñānā āsuraṃ bhāvamāśritāḥ ||

The vicious mean people who are deprived of their discrimination by Māyā, who are deluded, (and) who have taken to demonic nature do not surrender to Me.


  • Answers why majority do not have Bhagavān as priority in life, above ALL ELSE.
  • Most people don’t take bhakti sādhana, because do not have puṇyam. Even to come to bhakti, requires past birth puṇyam. (purva janma puṇyam)
  • In Soundarya Lahari, Śankarācārya says: akṛta puṇyaḥ kathaṁ prabhavati.
    • If puṇyam is not present,
      • One will NOT be born in culture which talks about mokṣa.
      • One will be born in a materialistic culture, where the whole life is artha/kāma.
  • Therefore one should have sufficient puṇyam to be born as (1) human being (2) culture which talks about 4 goals (puruṣārthās).
    • Majority cultures talk about artha/kāma only. Hence dharma/mokṣa is not investigated. Thus is why culture is ALSO important. EG: Steve Jobs all about culture in Apple.
    • Culture impact proof of concept: Notice on Google Trends, whatever is talked about in media, is searched lots. Thus media also dictates countries culture.
  • Therefore many only have sufficient puṇyam to be born human, but not to be interested in Bhagavān / śāstra.
    • What is reason for this? Māyayā apahṛta jñānāḥ, they are deluded by māyā, which keep them busy in pursuit of artha/kāma.
      • Proven by money/entertainment always been most prominent in society.
        • EG: Cruise ship. Why never see church/temple (dharma)? Micro of world’s marco.
      • Trick of māyā never allow one to come near mahātma / śāstra / lectures. No interest!
      • What’s more, discriminating power is robbed away by māyā (aparā prakṛti).
        • If had even little discrimination then one would see things are perishable. Even most successful stars are forgotten. Short lived glory. And if does have discrimination of impermanence, he/she doesn’t apply it to own life.
        • When does one finally start applying discrimination to own life? Get bitter experience.
  • Therefore, mūḍhāḥ, utterly deluded.
    • Delusion means taking impermanent to be permanent.
      • anityam nityatvena bhāvayati atasmin tat buddhi adyāsaḥ
    • Śāstra calls “delusion”: śobhana adhyāsaḥ: superimposition of the wrong things ONTO __.
      • For this reason, Bhagavān knows we will be deluded, thus provided the guru/śāstra.
      • And despite guru/scriptures provided, due to persons arrogance, as Mundaka Upaniṣad says: brihaspathis: avidyāyām antare vartamānāḥ svayam dīrāḥ paṇḍitam manyamānāḥ
        • They do not know anything, but think they know everything. Thus why should I go to guru, or study śāstra. Hence they do not take advantage of guru/scriptures resource for attaining supreme peace/freedom.
  • Even more unfortunate, āsuraṃ bhāvam āśritāḥ, they get themselves into trouble but also others into trouble.
    • When life invested in procuring artha/kāma, one soon discovers any amount I get, I am not satisfied. Hence ALWAYS ambitious for more.
    • And time comes when one cannot fulfill desire by legitimate earning. Because desires is in proportion to earning. Such person realizes legitimate earning can not fulfill ever-demanding desires. Therefore cuts corners.
      • On beginning this unethical behavior is uncomfortable owning to conscience. But soon desire of artha/kāma supersedes conscience, thus gradually they compromise dharma.
        • EG:
          • BEFORE: Asking favor. AFTER: Manipulation/blackmail techniques.
          • BEFORE: Honest benefits. AFTER: Psychological sales weapons.


Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7 – Verse 16:

caturvidhā bhajante māṃ janāḥ sukṛtino'rjuna |
ārto jijñāsurarthārthī jñānī ca bharatarṣabha ||

O! Arjuna, Four types of virtuous people surrender to Me – the distressed, the seeker of wealth, the seeker of knowledge, and the wise, Oh Arjuna.


  • When person has suffice puṇyam, Īśvara will be part of one’s life at varying degrees. This person is called bhakta (devotee). Classified into 4 types according to his/her motive/purpose: 4 Types:
    1. Ārtaḥ:
      • Generally all start with THIS devotion only. And because it is MOST prevalent, many mistakenly perceive bhakti for weak people.
      • When crises, suddenly devotion comes from nowhere. Because we are not confident solving ourselves. So we go to temple, church, Swami, friend.
      • “O Lord, remove my pain, take me out of mess, may my daughter find good husband”.
      • Starts in childhood. EG: Studied last night. On exam day, you have special namaskāra / prayer.
      • Many examples in purāṇās:
        • ārthatrāṇa parayāṇā sa bhagavān nārāyaṇo me gatiḥ;
          vātsalyādābhayapradhāna samayāt artharti nirvāpanāt
          ādhūrāt akhaśoṣaṇāt agaṇita śreyapadā prapannāt
          sevya śripatireka eva jagatām sandhyāta ṣaṭha sākṣīṇāḥ
          prahlādaśca vibhīṣaṇaśca karirāt pāñcāli ahalyāt druvaḥ

          Shows 6 examples to show Lord will rescue a person when in distress, only if person surrenders to Lord during distress.
      • Īśvara has special title: Crises-management Lord (ārthatrāṇa parāyana nārāyanaḥ). Bhagavān used for removal of problem.
        • EG: Vibhīṣaṇa, Prahlāda, Druvaḥ, Pāñcāli, Ahalyā
      • Also called, duḥkha nivṛthiartam: Lord used for removal of problem.
    2. Arthārthī: One who is desirous of wealth/profit/position. (artha: wealth, ārthī: desirer)
      • Whenever starts something, and wants RESULTS like profit/benefit, then goes to Lord.
        • EG: For good child birth, goes to temple, special pooja.
        • EG 2: Wants business prosperity, big picture of Lakṣmī / Successful person in his field.
      • “Oh Lord, make him/her say ‘Yes' to my likes/dislikes. Give me more __.”
      • Also called sukha prapyartam: Lord used for getting or ridding of.
      • Thus God is used for: solving MY problems, helping MY progress in life, getting MY accomplishments.
      • Category ½ are called: manda bhakti or sakāma bhakti. (Kāma = desires)
        • Because both types are not interested in God. Only using Bhagavān for getting their interests fulfilled. God is not an END. Only MEANS.
        • And what is usually loved more? Means or end? End because end is accomplishment. Thus God is not object of love here.
          • EG: Go to gym to sweat and torture oneself, for sake of getting 2 extra looks per day.
        • If there is an alternative MEANS, one gives up God as means gladly. Hence God is disposable in category ½.
    3. Jijñāsuḥ: interested in knowing more about Īśvara. And attaining Īśvara.
      • Bhakta whom Īśvara is goal itself, and NOT a means. Everyone in life is MEANS to God (end).
      • “Oh Lord, I want you. Nothing else. For getting you, I am ready to sacrifice EVERYTHING else”.
        • Youthful person hard to think like this. Too many desires. That's why Vedanta or any proper spiritual practice works for most youngsters, as their desires always keep 50% devotion to wordly objects.
      • Also called: madhyama bhakti or niṣkāma bhakthi
    4. Jñāni: Bhakta who discovered Īśvara is never away from him/her. Accomplished God. Seeker is identical WITH the sought.
      • Īśvara is neither MEANS (sādhanam) nor END (sādhyam).
        • Because there is only Īśvara.
        • Thus to jñāni there is no means/end/freewill/īśvara/etc. All concepts. Self alone IS.
      • Jñāni is siddhaḥ: already accomplished.
      • Also called: uttama bhakti – the highest bhakta.


SUMMARY of Verse 16:

  • Ārtaḥ / Arthārthī bhakta:
    • Use God for material ends.
  • Jijñāsuḥ bhakta:
    • After sometime, one becomes mature. Understands worldly things cannot give worthwhile security, fulfillment, happiness. Thus goal becomes Īśvara.
    • Some attributes of Jijñāsuḥ:
      • Īśvara alone can give me security/happiness. Doubtless.
      • Īśvara can be accomplished only in terms of knowledge. It’s not a physical event.
        • Do not have to travel to reach all-pervading Īśvara.
        • Therefore “I need to discover how is it that God is here and now.”
          Previously I said “I want God”, now I say “I want knowledge of God.”
      • Knows Īśvara-jñānam only possible in purified mind. Therefore jijñāsuḥ-bhakta continues to be a religious person, but uses religion for purify of mind ONLY.
    • What is difference between religious person and spiritual person?
      • 2 Types of Religious people:
        1. Materialistic religious: ārtaḥ & arthārthī bhakta.
        2. Spiritual religious: jijñāsuḥ bhakta. Uses religion for getting cleansing of mind, Every ritual, ceremony, namaskāra, temple visit… utilized for purity.
    • Initially jijñāsu performs karma-yoga for purity of mind. Later shifts to jñāna-yoga for getting jñānam through scriptures/ācāryaḥ.
      • Therefore Karma-yogi = jijñāsu. Also Jñāna-yogi = jijñāsu.
      • Both take years. Thus journey of sacrifices is LONG.
    • After successfully completing karma/jñāna-yoga, jijñāsu CONVERTS to jñāni.
  • Jñāni: Stage of going from dvaita bhakti to advaita bhakti. I am never away from TOTAL. TOTAL is I, and I am TOTAL.
  • Final words of encouragement:
    • Since EVERYONE go through these 4 levels, never feel discouraged. Because those we look up to, also were lowest level of ladder.
    • Finally remember, never get stuck at any level for too long. Keep moving FORWARD. Never look back.
    • Aim to transcend each level until jñāni stage. This is your life mission!


Keywords: acarya, acaryah, ahalya, apara, artah, artharthi, arthārthī, arthārthin artharthin, artharthi, arthi, bhagavan, Daivi, duratyaya, gnani, gunamayi, gunas, ishvara, jijnasu, jijnasuh, jnani, kama, maya, mohini, moksha, mudha, namaskara , nivritti, nivrtti, pancali, panchali, para, prahlada, prakriti, prapti, punya karma, puranas, Purusharthas, rajah, sadhana, samanya karanam, samsara, samsari, saranagati, sastra, sattvah, sharanagati, shastra, siddha, tamah, upanishad, vibhisana, visesa, vishesha karana


Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Chinmaya Int. Foundation & Swami Paramarthananda

Recorded 30 July, 2019


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