Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 2: Chapter 10: Verses 1-15
Sri Suka continued: Sarga, Visarga, Sthana, Posana, the Otis, the Manvantaras, lsanukathas, Nirodha, Mukti and Asraya; these are the ten topics discussed in this Bhagavata-Purana. Men of true knowledge aver that the first nine topics have been discussed in this Purana only in order to present a clear conception of the tenth or the last (viz., Asraya, i.e., the all supporting Brahma). This they have deduced in some cases from the actual words of the text itself and in other cases from their purport. The creation (in the reverse order) of the gross and subtle elements, the senses of perception and the organs of action, and the mind, the ego and the Mahat-tattva (the principle of cosmic intelligence) due to disturbance in the equilibrium (and the resultant transformation) of the three Gunas or modes of Prakrti, brought about by the will of God, has been spoken of as 'Sarga'; and the creation of animate and inanimate beings by Brahma (himself born of the Cosmic Being) is called Visarga. The triumph of the Lord (as revealed by the fact that living beings created by Him keep within their bounds) is known by the name of 'Sthiti' and the Lord's grace on His devotees is termed as 'Posana'. Again, the virtuous conduct of the saintly Manus (presiding over the different Manvantaras) has been referred to by the term 'Manvantaras'; while the latent desires of the various creatures, which lead to their bondage through interested action,are known as 'Otis'. Even so the life-accounts of the various manifestations of Sri Hari as well as of His saintly devotees, supplemented by various other stories, have been termed as'Isakathas'. 'Nirodha' means the withdrawal of the individual soul with all its qualifications or adjuncts into the Lord subsequent to His retirement (falling into Yoganidra). And when the Jiva relinquishes its assumed character (doership etc.) and realizes its true nature (Brahmahood), they call it 'Mukti' or emancipation of the soul. Finally, that from which are known to proceed the creation, preservation and dissolution (of the universe) is what they call 'the 'Mraya', which is spoken of (in the scriptures) as the supreme Brahma or the supreme Spirit (Paramatma). The same perceiving subject (the individual soul) which identifies itself with the sense of perception also exists in the form of the deities presiding over the senses of perception (the sun-god and others); while the physical body, which distinguishes the senses from the deities presiding over them, serves as the condition (Upadhi) of the individual soul. When it is clear that in the absence of anyone of these we cannot perceive the other two, it follows that He (God) who knows all these three is the 'Asraya' or support of all and this latter has no other support than Himself. When the aforesaid Cosmic Being emerged from the egg-shaped universe and stood apart, He began to look out for a foothold for Himself; and with this object in view that Being of pure intentions created the holy waters. Having evolved from the Supreme Person (also called 'Nara') these waters were known as 'Nara' (that which proceeds from 'Nara'); and since He lived on these waters of His own creation for a thousand (celestial) years He became known as Narayana (He who resides in the 'Nara'). The gross elements (the material of which this universe is made), Karma (the destiny of the Jivas), Time, the mutability of Matter and the Jivas exist only by His grace and cease to exist the moment He grows indifferent towards them. Awaking from His Yoganidra (deep trance), Lord Narayana, who was all alone (till this moment), now sought to multiply Himself and by dint of His Maya (wonderful energy) split up His effulgent seed-body into three parts-the Adhidaiva, the Adhyatma and the Adhibhuta. Hear now (0 Pariksit !) how the unitary energy of the Lord came to be divided into three parts. When the Cosmic Being bestirred Himself, there arose from the space within His body the acuteness of the senses, strength of will and strength of body as well. And from these sprang up Praha, the chief of all the vital airs.