vāmāṅgād asṛjad viṣṇuṁ
vāma-aṅgāt – from the left side of Kāraṇodakaśāyī Mahā-Viṣṇu; asṛjat – He created; viṣṇum – Śrī Viṣṇu; dakṣiṇa-aṅgāt – from His right side; prajā-patim – (He created) the primal progenitor known as Hiraṇyagarbha; kūrca-deśāt – from the center of His eyebrows; avāsṛjat – He created; śambhum – Ḥis expansion of Śambhu; jyotiḥ-liṅga-mayam – in the form of an effulgent liṅga (male symbol of generative capacity).
That Mahā-Viṣṇu created Viṣṇu from His left side, Prajāpati from His right side, and Śambhu in the form of an effulgent liṅga from between His eyebrows.
What did Śrī Mahā-Viṣṇu do next? In answer to this question it is stated, vāmāṅgāt: “He manifested Viṣṇu from His left side, Prajāpati from His right side and Śambhu from between His eyebrows.” Brahmā is the creator, Viṣṇu is the maintainer and Maheśa is the destroyer of all the universes. The form of Śrī Viṣṇu in each universe directs His own expansions in the form of Brahmā and Śiva, and as a result of this impetus, Brahmā is absorbed in the task of creation, and Maheśa is absorbed in the task of annihilation. In this context one should understand the term prajāpati (primal progenitor) to mean Hiraṇyagarbha-Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. In some places the four-headed Brahmā has also been referred to as the prajāpati, but in this context prajāpati does not refer to Brahmā with four faces. This Hiraṇyagarbha-puruṣa creates the predominating deities within the shell of each universe. Viṣṇu and Śambhu are also the maintainer and destroyer respectively of their universes.
Śambhu has emanated from the area between the eyebrows of Mahā-Viṣṇu. The place of Mahā-Viṣnu is the water covering, which is considered to be His residence.
Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is the indwelling witness of the individual living entity, whereas Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is the indwelling witness of the aggregate of living entities. The primal progenitor is Hiraṇyagarbha, the expansion of Bhagavān, and he is different from the four-headed Brahmā. This Hiraṇyagarbha is the seed principle of each of the Brahmās in all the unlimited universes. Jyotir-liṅga-mayaṁ śambhum refers to the Śambhu who is the immensely qualified manifestation of the fundamental principle of procreation in the form of the original male generative capacity (liṅga). Śrī Viṣṇu is Mahā-Viṣṇu’s personal expansion, and is therefore in the category of the Supreme Īśvara. Prajāpati and Śambhu are both Mahā-Viṣṇu’s separated expansions, and are thus demigods who have been invested with special authority. Since His potency resides in His left side, it is from the transcendental potency of pure spiritual existence in Mahā-Viṣṇu’s left limb that Viṣṇu emerges. Thus Viṣṇu appears from the pure spiritual existence of Bhagavān.
As Īśvara, Viṣṇu is the Supersoul (Paramātmā) or indwelling witness of every living entity. In the Vedas He has been called “the thumb-sized predominator.” He is the maintainer. Those who perform fruitive activities worship Him as Yajñeśvara Nārāyaṇa, the Lord of sacrifice, while the yogīs desire to attain the state of trance by meditating upon Him.