Vāsudeva-parā vedā Vāsudeva-parā makhāḥ
Vāsudeva-parā yogā Vāsudeva-parāḥ kriyāḥ
Vāsudeva-paraṁ jñānaṁ Vāsudeva-paraṁ tapaḥ
Vāsudeva-paro dharmo Vāsudeva-parā gatiḥ
Vedas preach Vāsudeva as the ultimate supreme goal to be attained. Vāsudeva is the essence of the entire knowledge of Vedas. He is the ultimate object of Vedas. All Yagnas (sacrificial rituals) performed are solely for Vāsudeva. All actions are ultimately offered/ surrendered into Him. He is the ultimate goal of all Yoga. All actions ultimately end in Him. Vāsudeva alone will be obtained through attaining knowledge (jnāna). All austerities (tapas) and adherence to rules of righteousness (dharma) are undertaken for Vāsudeva alone. The fruits of all actions including attaining heaven ultimately merge into Vāsudeva.
Vāsudeva here refers to the Supreme Godhead, Paramātma! Everything attains fulfillment only when it merges into Paramātma. This is the implied meaning of this verse.
Let us discuss about the subtle aspects pertaining to the creation of this world.
The all-pervading Paramātma is over and above the illusory power (māya śakti) which is composed of the triguṇās (three attributes of Nature). At the beginning of creation, the Lord takes the help of this illusory power, which consists of the cause and effectual energies, to create this entire universe.
Thereafter He enters into this material world that had been created from the trigunās. These trigunas are the sportive forms of the ‘illusory power’. With His consciousness (chaitanya shakti) the Lord illumines all the objects and appears as if He is enveloped by illusion. The truth is that He is inherently shining everywhere. He is transcendental. The truth is that He is inherently is devoid of any trait or property!
(Triguṇās are the three attributes of Nature i.e. traits of goodness (sattva), traits of passion (rajas) and traits of ignorance/ inertia (tamas)).
When logs of wood are enveloped by fire, it appears as if there are many fires burning, when in reality there is only one fire. Similarly, even though a single Paramatma pervades all beings, it appears as if there are many different beings.
There is one single Lord who exists within all the objects and shines through them all. But to us it appears as if there are many Paramatmas; as if He is many. The illumination that is present within every object of the creation is itself Paramātma!
With the help of the trigunas which manifest in the form of gross elements, senses (indriyas) and mind, Paramātma created the universe replete with all living beings. Thereafter entering into it, He appears as if He is experiencing these objects of sense perception through the subtle sensory perceptions (sound, taste, form, smell and touch).
He takes great delight in playfully incarnating as celestials, animals, birds, humans and so on and through traits of purity and goodness (sattva guṇa) protects all these various planes thus created. Although He is non-dual, He loves to incarnate in various forms! This is the decisive truth!
With this the second chapter of the first canto comes to an end.
First Canto Third Chapter
In this chapter the 24 incarnations of the Lord have been briefly described. In response to the question asked by Maharishi Śounaka and other saints, Maharishi Suta says-
“In the beginning of creation, Paramātma took on the form of Puruśa (Self) which had in it the principles of Mahat tattva (cosmic intelligence), ahamkara, and pancha tanmātra (subtle sense perceptions).
This form consisted of 16 basic principles viz., 5 organs of perception (jnanendriya), 5 organs of action (karmendriya), mind (antah karana) and 5 gross elements. The term ahamkara here does not refer to arrogance. Omniscience is the characteristic of Paramātma. This is being referred to as ahamkara in this context.
From the lake called the navel of Sri Mahavishnu, who was in lying down in Yogic-sleep in the waters of the ocean, the four faced Brahma who is the leader of all Prajapatis (creators of the living beings) was born.
This entire universe is nothing but the extensive body of Sri Mahavishnu! In other words, the universal form of the Divine Lord, known as vishwaroopa or virādroopa, is nothing but this entire vast extended universe! Every visible portion of this universe is one of the parts of the body of that Supreme Lord! Innumerable galaxies and planets exist. Each of them is one of His body parts.
On Namo Narayana!