Sri Advaita Acarya, Maha-Visnu, looks towards upadana-prakrti, the primordial power or ingredient cause of material nature. By His glance, upadana-prakrti transforms herself into the twenty four material elements. What are these? Five gross elements (panca-bhuta), five sense objects (tan matra), five knowledge-acquiring senses (jnanendriya), five working senses (karmendriya), mind (mana), intelligence (buddhi), false ego (ahankara), and the unmanifested state of the three modes of material nature (avyakta). [This is also explained in Bhagavad-gita 13.6] By the glance of Advaita Acarya, Maha-Visnu, upadana-prakrti produces all these elements.
Maha-Visnu, also known as Karanodakasayi Visnu, needs only to wish that prakrti (the material energy) will create, and by this she begins to act. But both must be present: purusa and prakrti, the Supreme Controller (Maha-Visnu) and His material energy. Alone, prakrti cannot perform any function. It is only by the wish of Karanodakasayi Visnu that prakrti begins to mix the elements in their appropriate proportions. Then, from her, unlimited universes manifest.
What is sambhu-tattva? From where does Sambhu (a manifestation of Lord Siva) come? Sambhu manifests from the union of the Supreme Lord with a transforming agent in form of the darkness aspect (tamo-guna) of maya, the minuteness aspect of tatastha-sakti, and a slight degree of the mixture of the knowledge aspect (samvit-guna) and pleasure aspect (hladini) of the spiritual energy (cit-sakti). [This is also explained in Brahma-samhita 45 (commentary)]
The original personality of Godhead is Lord Krsna. From Him comes Baladeva Prabhu, from Baladeva Prabhu comes Mula-Sankarsana in Dvaraka, from Mula-Sankarsana comes Maha-Sankarsana in Vaikuntha, and Maha-Sankarsana expands into Karanodakasayi Visnu. Only for the purpose of the creation of the material world does Karanodakasayi Visnu manifest. Karanodakasayi Visnu desires the creation of the material world: “Let there be a material world.” Maya is his desire potency (iccha-sakti), which is not pure because the desire is for material creation.
Mula-Sankarsana, Maha-Sankarsana, and all other incarnations have no desire for material creation. Not even by mind do they desire maya. But Karanodakasayi Visnu desires it, and He therefore looks towards maya. As visnu-tattva, Karanodakasayi Visnu is pure, but at the same time He is not pure tattva, eternal tattva, because He has some desire to create this world. Only for the creation of the material universes, as manifested from the Viraja River (the marginal area between the spiritual and material creation) is He is needed; otherwise not. Only for the purpose of creation will that form manifest. So He is not nitya-tattva, and eternal Truth. In the form of Maha-Sankarsana, visnu-tattva is eternal, but in the form of Karanodakasayi Visnu He is not.
So, He desired, or glanced over maya. Desiring means glancing. This desire to serve in the function of creation is the nimitta-karana, or the instrumental course, of this material world. But this desire, or glancing for the purpose of creation, is not completely pure. His desire to serve Krsna is pure, but the desire to create is called abhasa, a semblance of the original desire. This semblance is called Sambhu-linga, and the shadow of Maha-Visnu’s sakti in Vaikuntha, Ramadevi, is called prakrti. The shadow of Ramadevi and the shadow of Maha-Visnu unite, and in this way the creation takes place.
Australia, on January 31, 2001