Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 3: Chapter 16: Verses 13-24
Brahma continued : Even though the sages had been bitten by the serpent of anger, their soul was not sated with hearing the Lord's lovely and illuminating speech, which was like a series of Mantras (sacred texts). Though brief, the Lord's excellent speech was difficult to comprehend because of its momentous import and was most profound in significance. The sages heard it with wide open (attentive) ears and pondered it as well; yet they could not understand what He intended doing. The Brahmanas were all the same extremely delighted to behold Him and experienced a thrill all over their body. They then spoke (as follows) to the Lord, who had revealed the mighty glory of His supreme divinity through His Yogamaya (wonderful divine potency). The sages said : O self-effulgent Lord, we are unable to know what You contemplate doing; for, even though the Ruler of all, You speak of favour done to You (by us) ! A friend and well-wisher of the Brahmanas as You are, it is but natural for You to believe that the Brahmana is Your supreme deity. The fact, however, is that the Lord (Yourself) is the Self and the Deity of not only the Brahmanas but even of the gods of gods (Brahma, Siva and others). The Eternal Religion (Sanatana Dharma) has proceeded from You and the same is protected (from time to time) by Your manifestations (Avataras). Nay, You alone are recognized (by the Sastras) as the immutable goal as well as the secret of Dharma (Religion). By Your grace the Yogis (mystics) treading the path of Nivrtti (indifference to the world) are easily able to cross the ocean of birth and death. How, then, can You be favoured by others? Laksmi (the goddess of fortune)-the dust of whose feet is borne by others, viz., seekers of wealth, on their head-waits upon You at the appointed hours, as though anxious to secure a place in the abode (in the shape of Your lotus-feet) of the king of bees, who hovers on the fresh wreath of Tulasi leaves offered at Your feet by some blessed devotee. Excessively fond as You are of Your greatest devotees, You have no great regard for Laksmi, even though She offers You Her faultless services. Adorned as You are by a number of adorable virtues, how can the dust of the roads trodden and hallowed by the feet of the Brahmanas or the mark of Srivatsa (a curl of hair) on Your breast lend sanctity to You or how could You accept them as ornaments? O Lord, in the form of Dharma (virtue) You are manifest in all the three ages (viz., Satya, Treta and Dwapara, the fourth, i.e., Kali being notorious for its marked absence of Dharma) and as such You protect with Your three feet (viz., purity of mind and body, austere penance and compassion, which severally characterize the three ages, the fourth viz., truthfulness, being present even in Kali, though in an attenuated form,) this universe, consisting of animate and inanimate beings, for the sake of the gods and the Brahmanas. Kindly drive away by Your (divine) personality, which consists of pure (immaterial) Sattva and is the bestower of all blessings, the elements of Rajas and Tamas in us, inimical as they are to virtue. If You, who are Dharma personified, cease to protect the Brahmana race, (with is the foremost of all the twice-born classes and) which deserves to be protected by You, through loving worship and polite words, the blessed path (of the Vedas) chalked out by You, O Lord, will forthwith disappear from the world; for the people would accept as their standard that conduct (viz., ceasing to worship and speak polite words to the Brahmanas) of Yours, who are the Supreme Person. This can never be to Your liking; for You, being the storehouse of Sattva (goodness), are ever intent on doing what is good to the people and uproot the enemies of virtue through the agency of kings that represent Your power. Since You are the suzerain lord of all the three worlds (the entire creation) and the protector of the whole universe, Your glory is not at all diminished by Your mere stooping down (before the Brahmanas); for that is a mere sport-on Your part.