Uddhava said: “O Lord of the universe! How many Tattvas (categories or the fundamental principles or primordial factors) are there in the world as described by the sages or Rishis? Some give the number as twenty-eight, others eleven, nine, five and three. The Rishis gave the number differently.
Some say it is twenty-six, others twenty-five, some speak of seven, some nine, or six or four or eleven, seventeen, or sixteen, and some again thirteen.
Kindly tell me, O Immortal One, the purpose or standpoint which the Rishis have in view in giving the number differently.”
The Lord said: “Each number is correct according to the exposition and standpoint of the particular teacher who fixes the number according to his views. For those who accept the basis of My Maya and explain things, what theory is not possible to maintain? [The discussion about the number is useless. The principles are interpenetrating. This order and their number are therefore differently understood. This universe is an illusion. Therefore one may have any sort of view of the universe. Mirage is false. To talk of the depth of the water in the mirage, how much the earth has become wet by the water of the mirage is all useless.]
There need be no discussion if the teacher understands each others standpoint. But if the teacher has egoism and if his mind is clouded by My forces of delusion, discussions inevitably arise. “It is not as you say. What I say is the fact” - This sort of dispute over the issue is due to My powers Sattva, Rajas and Tamas which are very difficult to get rid of.