Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 3: Chapter 8: Verses 14-24
By force of Time, which roused into activity the residue of Karma of the divas, that subtle matter which came out of the navel of Lord Visnu sprang all of a sudden in the form of a lotus bud, illuminating with its splendour that vast expanse of water even as the sun. The all-pervading Lord Visnu Himself, O Vidura, entered as the inner controller that lotus representing all the (fourteen) worlds, which brought to light (later on) all the objects of sensuous enjoyment. (When the Lord entered the lotus ), there appeared from it the Creator (Brahma), who is no other than Veda personified and whom they call "Self-born" (because his Progenitor was not to be seen). Perched on the pericarp of the lotus, Brahma failed to perceive any world. Turning his neck all round, therefore, he looked about in the sky with distended eyes and was immediately endowed with four faces, one on each side. Lai resting on that lotus, which had emerged from the waters uproarious with waves tossed by the (furious) winds which characterizedthe period of universal destruction, Brahma (the first god) could not make out the reality of that lotus, which formed the basis of the coming worlds, nor of himself. (He said to himself:) "Who am I, seated on the pericarp of this lotus, and whence can this lotus be, standing on these waters all alone (without any support)? It can, therefore, be easily understood by any sane person that there must be something underneath it, on which this stands supported." (Reasoning thus, he dived into the water through the pores in the stalk of that lotus. But much as he strove to find out the base of the lotus stalk, Brahma (the unborn) failed to get at it then, even though he approached it. While he thus looked about for his own source in that impenetrable darkness, O Vidura, there elapsed a very long time-.time, which is nothing but the Lord's discus (Sudarsana), that inspires terror In the heart of living creatures and cuts short the allotted span of their life (every moment). At last he gave up the search without achieving the object of his desire; and, returning to his resting-place, the deity gradually controlled his breath, withdrew his mind from everything else and sat down in Samadhi (deep meditation on the Lord). When he had unremittingly practised Yoga for a hundred years (the full life-span of a healthy man) the light of wisdom dawned on him and he saw revealed in his heart of its own accord that which he had failed to perceive before. On the waters that had submerged the whole universe during the period of universal destruction Brahma beheld the one Supreme Person (Lord Narayana) lying on the huge body of Sesa, which was white as a lotus fibre, and served as a bed for Him. The (extensive) hoods of the serpent-god, numbering ten thousand, served as so many umbrellas for the Lord and the gems set on his (myriad) crowns dispelled by their brilliance the darkness all round. (By the effulgence of His swarthy person) He obscured the splendour ot a mountain of emerald; (by His yellow loin-cloth) He outshone the bright evening clouds hanging round the sides of such a mountain; (by the brilliant crown adorning His head) He stole the charm of its many peaks of gold; (by His wreath of sylvan flowers) He eclipsed the beauty of the gems, rills, shining herbs and flowers adorning the breast of such a mountain; (by His shapely arms) He excelled the bamboos looking like the arms of that mountain and (by His beautiful legs) He threw into the background the trees constituting its legs.