|Canto 3: The Status Quo||Chapter 20: Conversation Between Maitreya and Vidura|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 3.20.12
mahān āsīd guṇa-trayāt
maitreyaḥ uvāca — Maitreya said; daivena — by superior management known as destiny; durvitarkyeṇa — beyond empiric speculation; pareṇa — by Mahā-Viṣṇu; animiṣeṇa — by the potency of eternal time; ca — and; jāta-kṣobhāt — the equilibrium was agitated; bhagavataḥ — of the Personality of Godhead; mahān — the total material elements (the mahat-tattva); āsīt — were produced; guṇa-trayāt — from the three modes of nature.
Maitreya said: When the equilibrium of the combination of the three modes of nature was agitated by the unseen activity of the living entity, by Mahā-Viṣṇu and by the force of time, the total material elements were produced.
The cause of the material creation is described here very lucidly. The first cause is daiva, or the destiny of the conditioned soul. The material creation exists for the conditioned soul who wanted to become a false lord for sense enjoyment. One cannot trace out the history of when the conditioned soul first desired to lord it over material nature, but in Vedic literature we always find that the material creation is meant for the sense enjoyment of the conditioned soul. There is a nice verse which says that the sum and substance of the conditioned soul's sense enjoyment is that as soon as he forgets his primary duty, to render service to the Lord, he creates an atmosphere of sense enjoyment, which is called māyā; that is the cause of material creation.
Another word used here is durvitarkyeṇa. No one can argue about when and how the conditioned soul became desirous of sense enjoyment, but the cause is there. Material nature is an atmosphere meant only for the sense enjoyment of the conditioned soul, and it is created by the Personality of Godhead. It is mentioned here that in the beginning of the creation the material nature, or prakṛti, is agitated by the Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu. There are three Viṣṇus mentioned. One is Mahā-Viṣṇu, another is Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, and the third is Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. The First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam discusses all these three Viṣṇus, and here also it is confirmed that Viṣṇu is the cause of creation. From Bhagavad-gītā also we learn that prakṛti begins to work and is still working under Kṛṣṇa's, or Viṣṇu's, glance of superintendence, but the Supreme Personality of Godhead is unchangeable. One should not mistakenly think that because the creation emanates from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He has therefore transformed into this material cosmic manifestation. He exists in His personal form always, but the cosmic manifestation takes place by His inconceivable potency. The workings of that energy are difficult to comprehend, but it is understood from Vedic literature that the conditioned soul creates his own destiny and is offered a particular body by the laws of nature under the superintendence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who always accompanies him as Paramātmā.
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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness