|Canto 3: The Status Quo||Chapter 26: Fundamental Principles of Material Nature|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 3.26.10
yat tat tri-guṇam avyaktaḿ
pradhānaḿ prakṛtiḿ prāhur
śrī-bhagavān uvāca — the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; yat — now further; tat — that; tri-guṇam — combination of the three modes; avyaktam — unmanifested; nityam — eternal; sat-asat-ātmakam — consisting of cause and effect; pradhānam — the pradhāna; prakṛtim — prakṛti; prāhuḥ — they call; aviśeṣam — undifferentiated; viśeṣa-vat — possessing differentiation.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: The unmanifested eternal combination of the three modes is the cause of the manifest state and is called pradhāna. It is called prakṛti when in the manifested stage of existence.
The Lord points out material nature in its subtle stage, which is called pradhāna, and He analyzes this pradhāna. The explanation of pradhāna and prakṛti is that pradhāna is the subtle, undifferentiated sum total of all material elements. Although they are undifferentiated, one can understand that the total material elements are contained therein. When the total material elements are manifested by the interaction of the three modes of material nature, the manifestation is called prakṛti. Impersonalists say that Brahman is without variegatedness and without differentiation. One may say that pradhāna is the Brahman stage, but actually the Brahman stage is not pradhāna. pradhāna is distinct from Brahman because in Brahman there is no existence of the material modes of nature. One may argue that the mahat-tattva is also different from pradhāna because in the mahat-tattva there are manifestations. The actual explanation of pradhāna, however, is given here: when the cause and effect are not clearly manifested (avyakta), the reaction of the total elements does not take place, and that stage of material nature is called pradhāna. Pradhāna is not the time element because in the time element there are actions and reactions, creation and annihilation. Nor is it the jīva, or marginal potency of living entities, or designated, conditioned living entities, because the designations of the living entities are not eternal. One adjective used in this connection is nitya, which indicates eternality. Therefore the condition of material nature immediately previous to its manifestation is called pradhāna.
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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness