śaktimān puruṣaḥ so ’yaṁ
tasminn āvirabhūl liṅge
mahā-viṣṇuḥ – the first of the puruṣa-avatāras, who is known as Mahā-Viṣṇu or Kāraṇodakaśāyī, which means one who lies within the Causal Ocean (kāraṇa-udaka); jagat-patiḥ – the supreme master and Supersoul of all the universes; āvirabhūt – appeared (by means of His glance); tasmin liṅge – within that form; liṅga-rūpī maheśvaraḥ – Bhagavān Śambhu, whose personal form is represented by the localized symbol of liṅga (His generative capacity); śaktimān – connected with His illusory potency, who furnishes the universal ingredients; saḥ ayam puruṣaḥ – is factually non-different from that same Mahā-Viṣṇu (who performs the function of ingredient cause through that Śambhu).
The controller of all, the original agent, who has been indicated by the word maheśvara, is the potent male (puruṣa). For the purpose of creation, He is manifest in the form of the original male generative capacity (liṅga). He who is called Mahā-Viṣṇu, the Lord of the cosmos, also appears in that combination of the active and receptive principles of creation by His expansion in the form of His glance.
This verse has been spoken to clarify the previous verse. The unmanifest form mentioned previously now emerges in its manifest form for the purpose of creation. How does it emerge? The partial expansion of a partial expansion of Bhagavān, called the original potent male principle, Maheśvara, creates the material universe. Everything in the world of māyā – such as false ego, intelligence, mind, the five gross elements, the five sense objects and the unmanifest aggregate of the material energy – is the manifest representation of the unmanifest form of Bhagavān. The self-sufficient Mahā-Viṣṇu, who is the Lord of all living entities and all spiritual and material worlds, is the origin (aṁśī) of Maheśvara, who appears in a manifest form as the liṅga or original male generative capacity.
It is also stated in the commentary on Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta:
so ’yaṁ śaktimān puruṣaḥ
liṅga-rūpī maheśvaro bhavati
tasmin liṅge jagat-patir
That Supreme Personality, the possessor of all potencies, Mahā-Viṣṇu, takes the form of Maheśvara as the liṅga or original generative capacity, and then enters within it as the Lord of the mundane universes.
Śrī Nārāyaṇa, Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s personal expansion, who is non-different from Him, reigns gracefully in the Vaikuṇṭha realm of the spiritual sky, wherein transcendental opulence predominates. The Mahā-Saṅkarṣaṇa of His quadruple expansion is also a partial expansion of Śrī Baladeva, Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s first pastime expansion. By the influence of the inconceivable potency, that Mahā-Saṅkarṣaṇa in the form of His partial expansion Kāraṇodakaśāyī Mahā-Viṣṇu eternally reposes in Virajā, which is the borderline between the conscious and unconscious realms. From there He glances toward māyā, which is the remotely situated shadow of the spiritual potency. The semblance of that transcendental glance is Śambhu, the lord of pradhāna, which is replete with the potential material ingredients. Śambhu, in the form of Rudra, unites with māyā, the instrumental cause. However, he cannot do anything without the influence of the direct spiritual might of Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the form of Mahā-Viṣṇu. Therefore the unmanifest material energy (mahat-tattva) emerges only when the active endeavors of māyā (i.e. śiva-śakti) and the primordial material ingredients (pradhāna) are sanctioned by Saṅkarṣaṇa, who is Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s personal expansion, and Mahā-Viṣṇu, who is Saṅkarṣaṇa’s personal expansion and the first puruṣa-avatāra.
Only when Mahā-Viṣṇu is favorable does śiva-śakti gradully create the element of false ego, the five gross elements beginning with space, the five sense objects and the material senses of the jīvas, who are particles of the rays of Mahā-Viṣṇu’s effulgence. An elaborate analysis of this aspect will be presented in the coming verses.