(1) S'rî S'uka said: "Between the soul of pure consciousness in the beyond and the material body there can never be any meaningful relationship without the [divine self] its [or His] illusory potency [of mâyâ] oh King, the same way a dreamer can't make any use of what he saw in his dream. (2) Wishing to enjoy in different ways the multifarious forms offered by the external energy of mâyâ there is because of [the operation of] her qualities or modes the notion of 'I' and 'mine'. (3) The very moment he [the witness, the soul], in his glory of transcending the time of the material energy, enjoys to be free from illusion, he in that fulness will forsake the two [of that 'I' and 'mine']. (4) When the Supreme Lord showed His form to the Creator who was veracious in his vows and diligence, He pointed out that the goal of all purification is to find the love of the knowledge of self-realization [âtma-tattva, filognosy, the soul principle]. (5) [And so] he, the first godly person in the universe, the supreme spiritual teacher, began from his own divine position [on the lotus of creation] to reflect on the source [of that lotus]. But considering therewith how he would start his creation, he couldn't figure out what the directions and the ways were of how it all materially should be put together.
(6) When he once was immersed in thinking this way, he heard two syllables being spoken which were the sixteenth [ta] and the twenty-first [pa] of the spars'a alphabeth. Joined together [as tapas, penance], these syllables became known as the potency of the renounced order, oh King. (7) When he heard that being spoken, he looked in all directions to detect the speaker, but there was none to be found. From where he in his divine position sat he then thought it best to do penance the way it was instructed. (8) He endowed with a spotless vision controlled his life breath, mind and senses of perception and action for a thousand godly years* and thus proceeding he in the past enlightened all the worlds by being of all who do penance the one of the severest practice.
(9) For him, the Supreme Lord being pleased by his penance, manifested His own abode [also called Vaikunthha, the place free from indolence], beyond which no other world is found and which is worshiped as the place where the five miseries of material life [ignorance, selfhood, attachment, hatred and death-fear] have completely ceased. It is the place that is praised by persons who free from illusion and fear for a material existence are of perfect self-realization. (10) There where the Lord is worshiped by the enlightened as well as the unenlightened devotees, the mode of goodness prevails over the other two of passion and ignorance without ever being mixed with them. Nor is there the influence of time or the external energy, not to mention [the influence of] all the other matters [like attachment, greed etc.]. (11) As blue as the sky and glowing with lotuslike eyes, very attractive and youthful with yellow garments, all inhabitants there are endowed with the four arms and the luster and effulgence of pearls and fine ornaments. (12) Some radiate like coral or diamonds, with heads with earrings and garlands blooming like a celestial lotus. (13) That place which radiates with rows of brilliant high rising, excellent buildings [specially designed] for the great devotees and is populated by celestial, flashing beauties with heavenly complexions, is as attractive as a sky decorated with clouds and lightning. (14) The goddess [S'rî] performs there, enraptured together with her personal, singing associates, with the diverse paraphernalia devotional service at the lotus feet of the Lord, surrounded by black bees who busily humm along in the attraction of the [everlasting] spring season. (15) There he [Brahmâ] saw the Lord of the entire community of devotees, the Lord of the goddess, of the Universe and the sacrifice, the Almighty One who is being served in transcendental love by foremost associates like Sunanda, Nanda, Prabala and Arhana. (16) The servants affectionately facing Him are intoxicated by the very pleasing sight of His smile, His reddish eyes, His face with His helmet and earrings, His four hands, His yellow dress, His marked chest and the Goddess of Fortune at His side. (17) Seated on His highly valuable throne He as the Supreme Lord fully enjoys His abode where He is surrounded by the opulence of His four energies [the principles of matter, original person, intellect and ego], His sixteen energies [the five elements, perceptive and working senses, and mind] His fivefold energies [the sense objects of form, taste, sound, smell and touch], His six energies [of the opulences of knowledge, intelligence, beauty, penance, fame and riches] and the other personal powers He sometimes demonstrates [the eight siddhis or mystic perfections].
(18) The Creator of the Universe, who was overwhelmed by the sight of that audience, with his heart full of ecstasy and his body full of divine love bowed down with tears in his eyes before the lotus feet of the Lord. It was an example that is followed by the great liberated souls. (19) Seeing him present before Him, the Lord deemed the worthy, great scholar suitable for creating - in line with His own control - the lives of all living beings. Mildly smiling He very pleased shook hands with His partner in divine love and addressed the beloved one with enlightening words. (20) The Supreme Lord said: 'As opposed to the penance of the ones who are falsely unified ['kûtha yogis'], I am most pleased with prolonged penance, the penance by which the Vedic knowledge has accumulated in you, who desired to create. (21) All my blessings for you, just ask Me, the giver of all benediction, whatever favor you wish oh Brahmâ. For to reach the ultimate of realizing Me is the final success of everyone's penances. (22) This enviable perception of My abode was granted to you because you submissively listened when you in seclusion were of the highest penance. (23) It was Me who told you [to do penance] in that situation because you were perplexed in your duty. That penance is My very heart and the Soul is what I am for the one who is engaged in it, oh sinless one. (24) I create by that penance, I maintain the cosmos by that penance and I withdraw again by that penance. My power is found in severe penance.'
(25) Brahmâ said: 'Oh Supreme Lord of all living beings, You are the director seated in the heart who by Your undisputed, superior intelligence knows about all endeavors. (26) Nevertheless I ask You oh Lord, to please fulfill my desire to know how You, despite of being formless, can exist in the beyond on the one hand while You descend in Your form as we may know on the other hand. (27) And how do You, from Yourself by means of Yourself, by combination and permutation, manage to manifest Your different energies in the matter of evolving, accepting, maintaining and annihilating? (28) Oh Mâdhava [master of all energies], please inform me in intelligible terms about all those [forms] You infallibly, with determination enact the way a spider invests [its energies in its web]. (29) I wish that I in learning from You as my teacher of example, by Your mercy acting as Your instrument, despite of creating the lives of the living beings, thus may never be caught in material attachments. (30) Oh Lord, like a friend does with a friend You [with a handshake] have accepted me for creating the different lives of the living entities. Oh Unborn One, may because of all who [throug me] in the service of You undisturbed saw the light of the world, never the imagination go to my head.'
(31) The Supreme Lord said: 'The knowledge acquired about Me is very confidential and is realized in combination with devotional service and the necessary paraphernalia. Take it up the way I explain it to you. (32) May from My mercy with you there be this factual realization of My eternal form and transcendental existence, My colors, qualities and activities. (33) It was I who existed before the creation when there was nothing else, nothing of the cause and effect of all of this that is also Me, and it is Me as well who of all that was created remains in the end; that is what I am. (34) That which appears to be of value, is not what it seems when it does not relate to Me - know that illusory energy of Mine to be a reflection of the darkness. (35) The elements of the universe appear, before they are engaged as well as thereafter, minutely as well gigantically. The same way I am [minutely] present in them as well as [gigantically] not present in them. (36) He who has made the soul his object of study may count on it that he, until he arrives at this notion, has to investigate the reality and principle of the Self directly [spiritually] as well as indirectly [scientifically] in the context of whatever time, place or circumstance. (37) When your focus of mind remains fixed on this conclusion about the Supreme you don't have to fear a fall in bewilderment, not when you've temporally lost your way [with the kalpa], nor when you've reached the end of your life [at the vikalpa end of the world].' "
(38) S'rî S'uka said: "After thus fully having explained everything, the Unborn One disappeared, He, Lord Hari the way He by the leader of the living entities [Brahmâ] was seen in His transcendental form of the Supreme Self. (39) After He had disappeared from view Brahmâjî, who had folded his hands before the Lord who is the object of all the senses [of the devotees], resumed the work of creating the lives of all living beings populating the universe, exactly the way he did before. (40) And thus it once happened that he, the father of all living beings and religious life, with vow and respect dedicated himself to the matter of the welfare of the living beings, for that was what he desired in the interest of their own good qualities. (41) Nârada, the dearest of his heirs, is very obedient to him in his willingness to be of service with his good behavior, meekness and sense control. (42) Oh King, the great sage and first-class devotee pleased his father [Lord Brahmâ] very much with his desire to know [more] about Vishnu, the Lord of all energies. (43) The same way you are questioning me, Nârada Muni questioned him when he saw that it was to the satisfaction of the great grandfather of the entire universe. (44) This story of the Fortunate One, the Bhâgavata Purâna with its ten characteristics [that is summarized in the four verses 33-36, see further the next chapter], was with great satisfaction by the Supreme Lord explained to His [unborn] son, the creator of the universe. (45) On the bank of the Sarasvatî Nârada [on his turn] instructed this Supreme Spirituality to the great sage, the meditative Vyâsadeva who is of an immeasurable potency, oh King. (46) All the things you've been asking me concerning the world of the Universal Form of the Original Person and other matters, I shall now explain to you in great detail."