Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 11: Chapter 24: Verses 1-15
The glorious Lord began again : I shall now fully expound before you the truth underlying the doctrine of Sankhya as conclusively ascertained by the ancient seers (Kapilaand others), realizing which a man bids fair to shed at once the delusion (in the shape of varied experiences such as joy and sorrow etc.), occasioned by the notion of difference (as between oneself and others). During the period of final dissolution (before the Yugas began to run their course), in the very first Satya Yuga (at the beginning of creation) and whenever there are men shrewd of judgment, (in their eyes too) the subjective consciousness (in the shape of the seer) as well as the entire objective existence was one absolutely undifferentiated substance (Brahma) indeed. That absolute undifferentiated reality,Brahma (the Infinite), which is beyond the ken of speech and the mind, became dual (as it were) in the shape of Maya (objective existence) and that which is reflected in it (viz., the diva or the seer). Of the said two (halves), one substance indeed is the well-known Prakrti,consisting of two aspects (viz., cause and effect); while the other entity is consciousness (itself), and that is called Purusa (the Spirit). Out of (this) Prakrti--(even) while its equilibrium was being disturbed by Me (in the form of the Time-Spirit) as motivated by the jivas (whose Karma is ultimately responsible for creation)-there appeared the three Gunas-Tamas, Rajas and Sattva. Out of the aforesaid (three Gunas) was evolved the Sutra (the principle of cosmic activity) as well as Mahat (the principle of cosmic intelligence), which is (ever) accompanied by the Sutra (of which it is a counterpart and in conjunction with it forms one composite whole). From Mahat, even as it underwent modification, there appeared Ahankara (the cosmic ego), which deluded the diva (by bringing about its identification with the body etc.). (This) Ahankara is of three kinds, viz., Sattvika, Rajasika and Tamasika. It is the cause of the five Tanmatras (the subtle elements), the eleven Indriyas (the five senses of perception and the five organs of action) and the mind (including the deities presiding over the Indriyas and the mind) and (though material or non-spiritual in substance it is a sort of connecting link between Spirit and Matter inasmuch as it is interpenetrated by a reflection of the Spirit and) is (therefore considered to be both) spiritual and material. From the Tamasika type of Ahankara, which is the source of the (five) Tanmatras, came into being (through the Tanmatras) the (five gross) elements (ether, the air, fire, water and earth), from the Rajasika type sprang up the (ten) Indriyas; and from the Sattvika type were evolved the eleven deities (presiding over the Indriyas and the mind, viz., the deities presiding over the quarters, the wind-god, the sun-god, Varuna, the god of water, the Aswinikumaras, the god of fire, Indra, the lord of paradise, Lord Visnu, Mitra and Prajapati, the deity presiding over procreation, and the moon-god), as well as the mind. Impelled (energized) by Me, and rendered operative in conjunction with one another, all the (aforementioned) categories evolved the cosmic egg, (which served as) My excellent sporting-ground (when I entered it as its Inner Controller). In that egg as it lay on the waters (that constituted a support for the egg and are referred to in the Vaisnava literature by the name of Garbhoda) appeared I (in the form of Garbhodasayi Narayana, the second Cosmic Person). From My navel sprang up the lotus that (brought forth the universe and as such) bore the name of the universe; and on that lotus appeared Brahma (the self-born, another manifestation of the Cosmic Person with four faces and invested with a body evolved as a result of past meritorious deeds). Characterized by Rajas (the principle of activity) and equipped with askesis, the aforesaid Brahma (the creator of the universe) evolved by MY grace the three spheres-viz., Bhurloka (the terrestrial globe including the seven subterranean regions, viz., Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatala and Patala), Bhuvarloka (the aerial region) and Swarloka (understood in its wider sense as comprising the five celestial worlds-Swarloka or paradise, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka)-with their guardian deities. (Of these three spheres), Swarloka (construed in the narrow sense of paradise) constituted the home of the gods; Bhuvarloka, of spirits and Bhurloka, of men and other living beings (constituting the sub-human species-animals, birds, reptiles, insects and moths etc.); while the (ethereal) region extending beyond the three (aforesaid) worlds constituted the home of the Siddhas (eminent Brahmana sages like Bhrgu). Brahma (the ruler of the universe) created a home for the Asuras (demons) and the Nagas (serpent-demons) underground (in the subterranean regions known by the name of Atala and so on). In the aforesaid three spheres, are worked out all the destinies of those prompted by the three Gunas (Sattva etc.). Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka, (Brahmaloka) are the (successively higher) goals-free from (all) impurities (in the shape of attachment, greed etc.)-to be reached through Yoga (as propounded by the sage Patanjali), askesis (as practised by those belonging to the third stage of life, viz., Vanaprastha) and Samnyasa (renunciation as practised by recluses, that have renounced their home as well as family life); (whereas) My realm (Vaikuntha) is the objective to be reached through the discipline of Devotion. With Me, having Kala (the Time-Spirit) for My energy, as the Dispenser of the fruit of actions, this (living) creation, yoked to Karma, rises higher (upto the Brahmaloka) and descends (to the level of the plant kingdom in the scale of spiritual evolution according to the nature of his actions) in this world (of matter), which is (nothing but) a stream of the three Gunas.