(1) S'rî S'uka said: 'In this [book, the S'rîmad Bhâgavatam] are discussed the following [ten] subjects: primary creation [sarga], how the interactions of life and the lifeless came about [visarga], the planetary order [sthâna], the maintenance of belief [poshana], the impetus for action [ûtaya], the administrative eras [manvantaras], stories about the Lord His appearances [îs'a-anukathâ], returning to God [nirodha], liberation in devotional service [mukti] and the summum bonum [the life of Krishna, âs'raya]. (2) The great sages reduce the purpose of [the first nine] characteristics of this [Bhâgavatam] to the clarification of the summum bonum. This they deduced from either the words themselves used in the text or from their purport. (3) The [sixteen elements of the five] gross elements, the [five] sense objects and the senses themselves including the mind, constitute the manifestation which is called the creation of the creator [sarga] and that what resulted from their interaction with the three modes of nature [the gunas] is what is called the secondary creation [visarga]. (4) The stability of the worlds [sthâna] is the victory of the Lord of Vaikunthha and His mercy is the maintenance of belief [poshana]. The reign of the Manus [during the manvantaras] settles the perfection of the dutifulness that constitutes the impetus for action with the karmic propensities [ûtaya]. (5) The different stories about the Lord [îs'a-anukathâ] describe the activities of the avatâras of the Personality of Godhead and the persons who are His followers. (6) Returning to God [nirodha] pertains to the resigning of souls to the Original Person and His energies, while liberation [mukti] is concerned with forsaking other ways [of living] in order to get established in the Original Nature. (7) He who as the source from which the cosmic manifestation takes place also stands for the return to God, is for that reason called the reservoir [the âs'raya] of the Supreme Spirit or the Supersoul.
(8) He as the individual person in possession of his senses [adhyâtmika] is as well the controlling deity [adhidaivika] as the person who separate therefrom is perceived as another embodied living being [adhibhautika]. (9) He who knows that one cannot understand anyone of these three without the other two, knows that He, the Supersoul is the support for His own shelter. (10) When that Supreme Person [of space-time] separated the universes, He in His desire to be of the purest transcendence came out of Himself to lie down in the created [causal] waters. (11) Residing in these waters of His own creation for a thousand celestial years He became known by the name of Nârâyana ['the way of Nâra'] because these waters that originated from the Supreme Person [from 'Nara'] are called Nâra. (12) The material elements, karma, time and the conditioned living entities all exist by His mercy and cease to exist on [His] neglect. (13) Where He laid in His mystical slumber He was all alone. Thus wishing to multiply Himself He by means of His mâyâ divided His golden seminal principle in three. (14) Let me now tell you about how the Lord, who divided His one potency in three different powers, arrived at the three parts of 1) Himself or His nature, adhidaiva, 2) the individual soul, adhyâtma and 3) the other living beings, adhibhûta.
(15) From the ether within the body of the Original Person generated, with His wish, the power to sense, the power to mind and the power for physical action, after which next the life breath [the prâna] came about as the principle ruling over each and all. (16) Like the followers of a king, the senses follow the life force of prâna that is active in all living beings and when the life force is no longer active all the rest stops as well. (17) The life force that was generated [from the ether] made the Almighty One hungry and thirsty and to quench that thirst and satisfy that hunger, first of all the mouth was opened. (18) From the mouth the palate was generated whereupon the tongue manifested and the various tastes to be relished by it. (19) With the need to speak from the mouth of the Supreme One originated [the presiding deity of] fire as well as the organ of speech as speech itself, but because He was at rest in the waters, they for a very long time remained suspended. (20) Desiring to smell odors the nose with its sense of smell developed together with the nostrils to rapidly inhale the air that carries the smell. (21) Being by Himself in the darkness He desired to observe Himself and the rest of creation. For the sake of His vision the sun then separated that gave the eyes the power of sight. (22) When the Lord decided that the sages should understand the Supreme Being also the ears manifested themselves including the authority of the wind directions, the power to hear and that what could be heard. (23) From His desire to experience the hardness, softness, lightness, weight, heat and cold of all matter, the sense of touch was distributed over the skin along with its bodily hair, the plants and trees. That sense of touch of the skin rose from the objects that were perceived within and without.
(24) From His desire for different types of work the two hands manifested, but to give strength to the manipulation that depends on them [viz. on the gods who are His hands], Indra, the king of the gods, found his existence as the manifestation of both. (25) Desiring to control movement the legs manifested, for the purpose of which the Lord of Sacrifice [Vishnu] Himself manifested [as their presiding godhead] who motivates the different human beings according the duties of their fruitive actions [karma]. (26) Desiring to taste the nectar of sexual enjoyment the genitals of the male and female organ appeared and the lustful found its existence that is the shelter cherished by the both of them [controlled by the Prajâpati]. (27) Desiring to evacuate the refuse of eatables first the opening of the anus and then its sense and substance came about after which Mitra, the controller over the excretion, appeared to offer the protection of both. (28) With His wish to move freely from one body to the next, within the body the navel manifested that is the refuge for first the last breath expired and next death. (29) In want of food and drink the abdomen with the intestines and arteries originated to which the rivers and seas are their source of sustenance and metabolism. (30) Desirous to know His own energy the heart [as the seat of thought] manifested after which the mind, Candra the controller [the moon] appeared as also determination and all desire. (31) The seven elements of the nails, skin, flesh, blood, fat, marrow and bone are predominantly of earth, water and fire whereas the life breath is a product of ether, water and air [see also kos'a].
(32) The senses of the material ego are attached to the modes of matter. Those modes influence the mind and all the feelings belonging to it because of which for the individual the intelligence and the realized knowledge assume their form. (33) The Supreme Lord His gross form, as I explained to you, is among all of this that what is known by the eight elements [of earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego] of the planets and everything else, that together constitute an unlimitedly expanded, external covering. (34) For that reason we have the words of the mind in accord with the transcendental that serve the Supreme which is finer than the finest, the featureless unmanifested, which is without a beginning, an intermediate stage or an end and thus is eternal. (35) None of these two [material and verbal] forms of the Supreme Lord as I described to you are, because of their externality, by the scholars of consciousness ever taken for granted. (36) He who in fact does nothing [who is of akarma] manifests in the form of the word and in that what the word denotes: the different appearances of the Absolute Truth and the Supreme Lord, while He in the pastimes of His forms and names engages in the work of transcendence [that is free from karma]. (37-40) Oh King, know that all the happiness and distress and their mixture is there as a result of profit-minded labor [of karma]. This is the experience of all the members of the family of Brahmâ, the Manus, the godly, the wise, the inhabitants of Pitriloka [the forefathers] and Siddhaloka [the perfected]; the Câranas [the venerable], Gandharvas [the singers of heaven], Vidyâdharas [the scientists], Asuras [the unenlightened or the demons], Yakshas [treasure-keepers or evil spirits], Kinnaras [of superpowers] and angels; the snake-like, the monkey-shaped Kimpurushas, the human beings, the inhabitants of Mâtriloka [of the place of the mother], the demons and Pis'âcas [yellow flesh-eating demons]. This includes the ghosts, spirits, lunatics and evil spirits, devils taking possession of people and the birds, the forest-dwelling and domestic animals, the reptiles, the ones of the mountains, the moving and immobile living entities, the living entities born from embryos, from eggs, from heat [micro-organisms] and from seeds, and all others, whether they are of the water, of land or the sky.
(41) Depending the modes of goodness, passion and slowness there are thus the three [life conditions] of the godly, the human beings and the ones who have to suffer. There are also others [other births] oh King, when one reasons from mixed forms according to the habits one develops in one mode of nature with approaches derived from the other two. (42) Evidently the Supreme Lord, the maintainer of the universe, after having created the universes, assumes for the purpose of maintaining the dharma [and redeeming the living beings] the forms of gods, human beings and lower creatures. (43) Like the wind dispersing the clouds He in the form of Rudra [S'iva the destroyer] at the end of the era by fire will completely annihilate all. (44) The Supreme Lord is by those who are not conversant with His essence described with the notion of these characteristics [of creation and destruction], but the wise and the teachers must not deign to regard the supreme glory as only this. (45) Never is in the matter of creation and so on the Supreme in the beyond described as the engineering agency, for that notion [of having a Supreme position] is there to contrast with that what is manifested by the material energy. (46) That what is summarized here by me concerns the generation of the entire expanse of material creation. I only dilate on this now to illustrate the regulative principles of importance for the process of creation during a day of Brahmâ [a kalpa] and of destruction during an intermediate period [a vikalpa]. (47) I will also tell you about the characteristics and measures of time of a day of Brahmâ [a kalpa], but first let me inform you about this period [also called the Pâdma Kalpa or Varâha Kalpa].' "
(48) S'aunaka said: "Oh Sûta, you from the goodness of yourself told us about Vidura, who is one of the best devotees, going to the places of pilgrimage on this earth and leaving behind the relatives who are so difficult to give up. (49-50) Oh gentle one, please tell us here about the conversation Vidura had with Maitreya [a famous rishi] who is so full of transcendental knowledge. What asked he His grace and what truths got he in return for an answer? And why exactly gave Vidura up his activities and associates and why turned he back home thereafter?"
(51) Sûta replied: "This is what King Parîkchit also asked. I will tell you what the great sage said about it when he answered the king's question. Please listen."