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Lord Narayana enlightens Brahma by imparting to him the Catuh-Shloki.
After his birth upon the lotus flower that had grown from Lord Garbhodakashayi Vishnu’s navel, Brahma could not ascertain his origin. He could understand the necessity for creating the cosmic manifestation, but he could not conceive of the proper directions for executing the task. Being thus perplexed, Lord Brahma got down from his lotus-seat and began to search within the water below, and while doing so, he thought over the matter of creation very deeply.
Lord Brahma then heard the two syllables, “ta” and “pa”, joined together, as if vibrated from the sky nearby. He tried to find the speaker, but after failing to see anyone beside himself, he thought it wise to return to his lotus-seat and execute austerities as instructed. After one thousand celestial years, the Supreme Lord became very pleased with Brahma and so He revealed to him His personal abode, Vaikuntha, which is adored by all self-realized souls, and is free from all kinds of miseries and illusion.
In Vaikuntha, there is no influence of the material modes of nature, nor any predominance of time, and so what to speak of the illusory energy. Lord Brahma saw that the residents of Vaikuntha have ever-youthful four-armed forms of effulgent, sky-blue complexion. Endowed with lotus-eyes and all other auspicious features, they are dressed in yellow cloth and decorated with brilliant ornaments. Everywhere, the residents of Vaikuntha were seen riding upon their glowing airplanes, accompanied by their exquisitely beautiful consorts. The goddess of fortune was also there, and while engaged in varieties of service to the Lord, she constantly sang of His transcendental glories.
Lord Brahma could see the Supreme Lord, Narayana, seated upon His throne and surrounded by His foremost associates like Nanda, Sunanda, Prabala and Arhana, as well as His innumerable energies and opulences. The Lord appeared to be very pleased and He was leaning favorably towards His loving servitors. His very sight was intoxicating, His smiling face was tinged with an attractive reddish hue, and His chest was marked with the lines of the goddess of fortune.
Upon seeing the Supreme Lord, Brahma’s heart became overwhelmed with joy, and due to full transcendental ecstasy, his eyes filled with tears of love. Brahma bowed down before the Lord with great reverence, and in turn, the Lord, considering him worthy of acting as His unalloyed servant, shook hands with him.
Then, while slightly smiling, the Lord said, “O Brahma, I am very pleased by your long-accumulated penance, that was performed with the desire to create. I am the giver of all benedictions, and so you may ask from Me whatever you desire. Still, you may know from Me, that the ultimate benediction is to see Me by dint of unalloyed devotional service. You have been able to see Me in My transcendental abode as a result of your having sincerely performed penance. It was I who had instructed you to undergo austerities at the time when you were perplexed, for such penance is itself the creative potency.”
Lord Brahma replied, “O Lord, You are situated in everyone’s heart and thus You are fully aware of a living entity’s desires and how to fulfill them. I wish that You would explain to me how You create this mundane manifestation, although Your form is completely spiritual. I want to learn about this because I will act instrumentally in devotional service by re-creating the universe and generating the living entities. I know that I will have to create many varieties of living beings, and so I pray that, by Your mercy, I shall not become proud, thinking myself to be supreme, and thus fall into delusion.”
The Supreme Lord said, “Knowledge of Me is very confidential and it is revealed only to one who is engaged in pure devotional service. Now, let the understanding of My transcendental form, qualities and pastimes awaken in your heart, by My mercy. It is only I who existed before the creation. All that is now manifested is also I, and after the annihilation, only I, the Personality of Godhead, will remain.”
“O Brahma, whatever appears to be of value, but has no connection with Me, should be understood as simply a manifestation of the illusory energy, like a reflection that appears in darkness. Just as the material elements enter into every created entity, and yet exist beyond the cosmic manifestation- so I exist within everything, and yet, at the same time, I am outside of everything. A person who is searching for the truth must certainly go on inquiring unceasingly until he reaches this point of knowledge. Just follow this conclusion with fixed concentration, and then pride will never be able to disturb you.”
After saying this, the Supreme Lord suddenly disappeared, and thereafter, Brahma began to re-create the universe, full of living entities, as it had been before. Later on, Lord Brahma explained the ten characteristics of the catuh-shloki Bhagavatam to his dearest son, Narada. Then, in disciplic succession, Narada taught the Shrimad-Bhagavatam to Shrila Vyasadeva, who meditated in devotional service upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead, while sitting on the banks of the River Sarasvati.