(1) S'rî S'uka said: 'Thus speaking with Maitreya Muni, the learned son of Dvaipâyana Vyâsa, Vidura, respectfully expressed a request. (2) Vidura said: 'Oh brahmin, the Supreme Lord is the unchangeable one of the complete whole. How can despite of Him being outside of the modes His pastimes take place of acting with the modes of nature? (3) Boys who want to play with other boys are enthused in the matter of playing, but in what respect is that different with someone who is self-satisfied and at all times detached? (4) The creation of this universe was caused by the deluding potency of the Lord Himself that engaged the three modes of nature. And through her He maintains and destroys the universe as well. (5) How can He, the Pure Self whose consciousness is never obscured by time or circumstance, or because of Himself, of others or because of what manifested [as nature], [be situated in the normal position of a living entity and] be associated with nescience? (6) How can the one Supreme Lord who is present in every range of the lives [in all kshetras] of all living beings [see also B.G. 13: 3] run into any karmically settled misfortune or obstruction? (7) Oh learned one, because of the ignorance I suffer from, my mind gives me trouble. Therefore, oh great one, please drive away the great impurity of my mind.'
(8) S'rî S'uka said: 'The sage this way urged on by Vidura in his anxiety to find out about the reality, acted surprised and then without hesitation gave a God-conscious reply. (9) Maitreya said: 'It is contradictory to say that the Fortunate One is subject to material illusion on the one hand and that He is free from imperfections and bondage on the other hand. (10) Because of such a contradiction about the soul a person loses his way, which works like from the outside looking at oneself with one's head cut off. (11) The way by the quality of water the moon reflected in it is trembling, the quality of the body offers an illusory image to the seer who differs from it. (12) In this earthly existence that [illusion] gradually diminishes when one, in relation to the Fortunate One being united in devotion [in bhakti-yoga], by the mercy of Vâsudeva engages in detachment. (13) When the senses in the transcendence unto the Lord have turned away in the direction of the seer who is the soul, the miseries are completely vanquished as if one has enjoyed sound sleep. (14) For those who feel attracted to serve in the dust of His lotus feet it thus goes without saying that all misery finds its end by repeatedly speaking about and hearing of the qualities of Murâri, Krishna the slayer of Mura.'
(15) Vidura said: 'Oh powerful sage, now that you've cut down my doubts with the weapon of your convincing words, oh lord of opulences, my mind concerning the two [of God and the living being] has arrived at a perfect union. (16) Oh learned one, you're perfectly right in stating that [reasoning from] the deluding energy of the Lord is not the path for the soul to follow; it proves itself as meaningless when one goes without the basis of the Supreme source apart from which one misses the point. (17) In this world the ignorant fool as well as he whose intelligence has returned to the transcendental position enjoys happiness, whereas persons positioned in between these two have to suffer. (18) Now that I have the insight and am convinced of the fact that one abiding by outer appearances misses the essence, misses the soul, I with the serving of your feet am able to forsake [the wrong notion that the Supreme One would be subject to illusion]. (19) In serving the immutable Personality of Godhead who is the enemy of the demon Madhu, one develops in different relationships [or râsas] with the lotus feet [step by step] the intensity that vanquishes distress. (20) Those who are of little austerity are rarely seen on the path of service towards the Kingdom of God [Vaikunthha] where the Lord is always glorified by the gods as the controller of all living beings.
(21) After the creation of first the complete of the material energy, in a gradual process of differentiation [evolution] the universal form manifested along with its senses and organs in which later on the Almighty entered [for His incarnations]. (22) He who is called the original person has thousands of limbs, legs and hands and is home to all the worlds of the universe with all the life that has its existence on them. (23) You explained how there are three kinds of life [to the modes] in which one has ten kinds of life-force with the [five] senses and their [fivefold] interest. Please describe now to me what the specific powers of the societal divisions are. (24) In these [divisions] has, with the sons, grandsons and family members of the different generations, that prowess spread itself in the different forms of existence. (25) Who are the original progenitors [the Prajâpatis] evolved by their original leader [Brahmâ]? What are the generations of these fathers of mankind and what generations followed them? And what Manus ruled over the different manvantaras [cultural periods]? (26) What worlds are there above and below the earthly worlds, oh son of Mitrâ? Please describe what their positions and sizes are as well as the measures and proportions of the earthly worlds. (27) Tell me what the generations and subdivisions are of the infrahuman, human and superhuman living beings the way they are born from eggs, wombs, from moisture [micro-organisms] and from earth [de plants]. (28) Kindly describe the incarnations according to the modes of nature for the sake of the creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe [Brahmâ, Vishnu and S'iva] as also the magnanimous activities of the Personality of Godhead living with the Goddess of Fortune [S'rînivâsa] who constitutes the ultimate shelter.
(29) What are the divisions of societal status [varna] and spiritual order [âs'rama] and what are their features, how do they behave and what is their character? What are the birth and activities of the sages and what are the divisions of the Veda? (30) What oh master are all the ceremonies of sacrificing and what are the different ways of the yoga perfections, of the analytical study of knowledge and of relating to the Personality of God with regulative principles? (31) What are the ways followed by the faithless and what are their shortcomings? What is the situation of those who stem from mixed marriages and what is the destiny of life of the many types of individual souls according to the modes they follow and the kinds of labor they perform? (32) How can the different interests of religiosity, economic development, sense-gratification and salvation, the different means of livelihood, the codes of law, the scriptural injunctions and the different regulative principles be balanced? (33) Oh brahmin, how are the periodical offerings [of S'râddha] regulated to honor the deceased and to respect what the forefathers have created and how are the times settled in respect of the positions of luminaries like the planets and the stars? (34) What may one expect from charity, penance and the endeavoring for reservoirs of water and how are the duties described for someone away from home and for a man in danger? (35) Please describe to me oh sinless one, how He, the Supreme Person, the Father of Religion and Controller of All, can be satisfied completely and who of us could do that? (36) Oh best among the brahmins, the spiritual masters who are so kind to the needy tell their devoted disciples and sons even what they didn't ask for. (37) Oh supreme master, how many dissolutions [or end times] are there for the elements of nature? Who are they who are saved then and who are they who [being of praise] may serve Him? And who may merge with Him when He goes asleep? (38) And what is the nature and identity of the individual person as well as of the Supreme, what is the leading motive of the Vedic wisdom and what moves the guru and his disciples? (39) Spotless devotees speak of this source of knowledge in the world. How could someone on his own accord have knowledge of devotional service and detachment?
(40) All these questions I have asked in my desire to know about the pastimes of the Lord. Please answer them as a friend to me [and everyone else] who in his ignorance lost his vision with the external energy. (41) Oh spotless sage, the assurance of an existence free from fear one obtains from someone like you cannot in any way be compared to the liberation offered by all the Vedas, sacrifices, penances and charity.'
(42) S'rî S'uka said: 'He [Maitreya], the chief among the sages so well versed in the stories [Purânas], was most delighted to hear these questions posed by the chief of the Kurus and thus being urged to the topics about the Supreme Lord, he with a smile gave Vidura his reply.'