Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 2: Chapter 9: Verses 1-11
Sri Suka said : Even as a man can have no connection whatsoever with the objects (seen by him in a dream), so can the soul, that transcends all material sheaths and is consciousness itself, have no connection in reality with the phenomena (of this world), O king, except through the Lord's Maya (deluding potency). It is on account of this multiformed Maya that the Spirit too appears as endowed with diverse forms; and when he begins to take delight in the material objects of sense, he develops the feeling of 'I' and 'mine' (with reference to the body and all that pertains to it). Rid of all delusion, however, when he begins to revel in the glory of his own self, which is beyond the realm of Time and beyond Maya (the Lord's deluding potency), he discards both these notions (of 'I' and 'mine') and transcends the three Gunas. (I now proceed to expound) the truth which the Lord was pleased to teach Brahma, in order to enlighten him on the essential character of the Spirit, while revealing to him His own divine form in approbation of his true penance. Sitting in his own abode (the lotus from which he had emanated), that primal deity, the supreme preceptor of all the three worlds, began to meditate with intent to proceed with the work of creation. But he failed to obtain the vision which is regarded as valuable for this purpose, and with the help of which the creation of the phenomenal world could be taken in hand. While he was yet absorbed in thought, Brahma (the deity presiding over the entire creation) once heard near him in the causal waters a word of two syllables, viz., the sixteenth and the twenty-first letter- sounds among the twenty-five hard consonants (ta and Pa = tapa) i.e., practise penance) uttered twice. It is this penance.O Pariksit, which is known to be the wealth of men of renunciation. On hearing this word, Brahma looked about in all directions, eager to behold the speaker. But = failing to perceive any other being, he resumed his seat on the lotus once more and, taking it to be a sound advice, set his hart on penance as if enjoined (by the Lord). That foremost ascetic of all those given to austere penance, endowed as he was with unfailing vision, controlled his breath an mond, subdued his senses of perception as wll as his organsof action and with a composed mind practised for a period of one thousand celestial years (or 3,60,000 human years) penance which illumined alt the worlds (i.e., revealed to him a plan of the entire universe). Pleased (with his penance), the Lord fully revealed to him His own supreme Abode, higher than which there is no other realm, nay, which is absolutely free from afflictions, bewilderment and fear, and which is extolled on all sides by highly enlightened souls who have been blessed with His sight. Neither Rajas (passion) nor Tamas (the darkness of ignorance), nor even Sattva (the quality of goodness) mixed with either prevails there. The all-destroying Time too is powerless there and even so Maya (illusion); how, then, can the progeny of Maya (attachment, greed etc.) find their way into that realm ? Nay, the attendants of Sri Hari who reside there are adored by the gods and the demons alike. Possessed of a transparent swarthy complexion and lotus-like eyes, clad in yellow, most charming to look at and extremely delicate of body, they are all endowed with four arms, highly resplendent themselves and further beautified by gold ornaments set with superb shining gems. Some of them (who have not attained identity of form with the Lord) possess the hue of corals, cat's-eyes or lotus stalks and are adorned with brilliant ear-rings, diadems and garlands.