(1) S'rî Maitreya said: 'The descendants of King Pûru deserve it to be honored because their kings are chiefly devoted to the Supreme Personality; and with you who are also born in this chain of devotional activity in respect of the Invincible One, there is step by step [with every question you ask] constantly new light shed on this subject matter. (2) Let me therefore now discuss this Bhâgavatam, this Vedic supplement which originally by the Supreme Lord in person was spoken to the wise for the mitigation of the great distress of the human beings who experience so little happiness.
(3) The son of Brahmâ [Sanat-kumâra] as the leader of the great sages [the four boy-saints, the Kumâras], just like you inquired after the truth concerning the Original Personality with Lord Sankarshana [the first plenary portion and companion of the Lord] who undeterred in His knowledge resides at the basis of the universe. (4) He in that position with Him whom one in great esteem calls Vâsudeva had turned His vision inwards, but to encourage the highly learned sages He forthwith slightly opened His lotuslike eyes. (5) With the hairs on their heads wet from the water of the Ganges they touched the shelter of His lotus feet that is worshiped by the daughters of the serpent-king with great devotion and various paraphernalia in the desire for a good husband. (6) Known with His pastimes they with words and great affection in rhythmic accord repeatedly glorified the activities while from the thousands of raised hoods [of Ananta, the serpent king] the glowing effulgence emanated of the valuable stones upon their thousands of helmets. (7) Oh Vidura one says that He then discussed the purport of the Bhâgavatam with Sanat-kumâra who had taken the [yoga] vow of renunciation and, as was requested, passed it on to Sânkhyâyana who had also taken the vow. (8) When the great sage Sânkhyâyana as the chief of the transcendentalists reciting this Bhâgavatam [thereafter] expounded on it, the spiritual master Parâs'ara whom I followed as also Brihaspati were present. (9) Urged on by sage Pulastya he [Parâs'ara] kindheartedly told me this finest one of the Purânas which I on my turn will relate to you, my dear son, for you are an ever faithfull follower.
(10) At the time the three worlds were submerged in the waters He [Garbhodakas'âyî Vishnu] was lying down there with nearly closed eyes upon the snake bed Ananta desiring nothing more but the satisfaction of His internal potency. (11) The way the power of fire is hidden in wood He resided there in the water keeping all that existed in the subtle of His transcendental body from where He gives life in the form of Time [kâla]. (12) For the duration of thousand times four yugas [4.32 billion years] He lay asleep with His internal potency for the sake of the further development - by means of His force called kâla [time] - of the worlds of the living beings who depend on fruitive activities. That role gave His body a bluish look [the blue of the refuge of the vivifying water]. (13) In accord with the purpose of His internal attention for the subtle subject matter, there was in due course of time because of the material activity of the modes of nature, the agitation [of the primal substance] that then most subtly broke forth from His abdomen [from the ether]. (14) With the Time that roused the karma into activity, soon from the original self [of Vishnu] with that [agitation] a lotus bud appeared that just like a sun illumined the vast waters with its effulgence.
(15) That lotus flower of factually the universe was entered by Vishnu in person as the reservoir of all qualities from which, so one says, He in the beginning generated the personality of Vedic wisdom, the controller of the universe who is the self-born one [Brahmâ]. (16) [Brahmâ] in that water situated on the whorl of the lotus couldn't discern the world and spying all around in the four directions he thus received his four heads. (17) [Brahmâ] seated upon and sheltered by the lotus flower that because of the stormy sky at the end of the yuga had appeared from the restless waters, could in his bewilderment not fathom the mystery of creation nor understand that he was the first demigod. (18) 'Who am I, seated on top of this lotus? Wherefrom has it originated? There must be something in the water below. Being present here implies the existence of that from which it sprouted!' (19) This way contemplating the stem of the lotus, he by following that channel in the water towards the navel [of Vishnu], despite of his entering there and extensively thinking about its origin, could not understand the foundation. (20) Groping in the dark oh Vidura it with his contemplating this way thus came to pass that the enormity of the three-dimensional of time [tri-kâlika] came about which as a weapon [a cakra] inspires fear in the embodied, unborn soul by limiting his span of life to a hundred years [compare 2.2: 24-25].
(21) When he failed to achieve the object of his desire the godhead gave up the endeavor and seated himself upon the lotus again to control with confidence step by step his breath, withdraw his mind and unify his consciousness in meditation. (22) [Thus] practicing yoga for the duration of his life the unborn one in due course of time developed the understanding and saw how in his heart out of its own that manifested what he couldn't see before. (23) On the bed of the completely white gigantic S'esha-nâga [snake] lotus flower the Original Person was lying all alone under the umbrella of the serpent hood that was bedecked with head jewels by the glow of which the darkness in the water of devastation was dissipated. (24) The panorama of His hands, legs, jewels, flower garland and dress derided the green coral of the evening splendor of the sun over the great, golden mountain summits with their waterfalls and herbs, flowers and trees. (25) With the beauty of the divine radiance of the ornaments that dressed His body, the length and width of the measurement of His transcendental presence covered the totality of the three worlds with all their variety.
(26) According to the desire of the human being who in worship of the lotus feet - that reward with all what is longed for - follows the path of devotional service, He in His causeless mercy showing the moonlike shine of His toe- and fingernails thus revealed the most beautiful [flowerlike] division. (27) With the expression of His face acknowledging the merit of each, He vanquishes the worldly distress with the bedazzlement of His smiles, the decoration of His earrings, the rays reflected from His lips and the beauty of His nose and eyebrows. (28) Dear Vidura, the waist was well decorated with a belt and cloth with the saffron color of kadamba flowers, there was a priceless necklace and on the chest there was the attractive S'rîvatsa mark [a few white hairs]. (29) The way trees in the world have their separate existence and with their thousands of branches spread their high value [of flowers and fruits] as if they're ornamented with precious jewels, so too the Lord, the ruler of Ananta, [Garbhodakas'âyî Vishnu] is ornamented with the hoods above His shoulders. (30) The Supreme Lord as a mountain surrounded by water is the abode for all beings mobile and immobile and as the friend of Anantadeva with his thousands of golden helmets [and jewels], He with His Kaustubha jewel manifests Himself thereto as a mountain range of gold in the ocean. (31) [Brahmâ found that] surrounded by the flower garland of His personal glories in the form of the sweet, beautiful sounds of Vedic wisdom, the Lord of the sun, the moon, the air and fire was most difficult to reach because He, fighting for the duty, wandered around in the three worlds. (32) Thus it happened that the godhead of the universe, the creator of destiny, could behold His navel, the lake, the lotus flower, the waters of destruction, the air with its winds and the sky, but could not glance beyond the created reality of the cosmic manifestation. (33) With the reach of that vision he as the seed of all worldly activities was invigorated by the mode of passion, and thus, considering the living beings eagerly procreating, prayed to create in service of the worshipable One of transcendence on the path of the steadfast soul.'