namas te srita-sattvaya
dharmadinam ca sutaye
nirgunaya ca yat-kastham
naham vedapare ’pi ca
brahma—the personified Vedas; uvaca—said; namah—respectful obeisances; te—unto You; srita-sattvaya—the shelter of the quality of goodness; dharma-adinam—of all religion, austerity and penance; ca—and; sutaye—the source; nirgunaya—transcendental to material qualities; ca—and; yat—of whom (of the Supreme Lord); kastham—the situation; na—not; aham—I; veda—know; apare—others; api—certainly; ca—and.
The personified Vedas said: We offer our respectful obeisances unto You, the Lord, the shelter of the quality of goodness and therefore the source of all religion, austerity and penance, for You are transcendental to all material qualities and no one knows You or Your actual situation.
In the material world there is the trinity of the three material qualities. Lord Visnu has accepted the superintendence of the quality of goodness, which is the source of religion, knowledge, austerity, renunciation, opulence, etc. Because of this, actual peace, prosperity, knowledge and religion can be attained when the living entities are under the control of the quality of goodness in the material world. As soon as they are subjected to the control of the other two qualities, namely passion and ignorance, their precarious conditional life becomes intolerable. But Lord Visnu, in His original position, is always nirguna, which means transcendental to these material qualities. Guna means “quality,” and nir means “negation.” This does not indicate, however, that He has no qualities; He has transcendental qualities by which He appears and manifests His pastimes. The positive transcendental qualitative manifestation is unknown to the students of the Vedas as well as to the great stalwart demigods like Brahma and Siva. Actually, the transcendental qualities are manifested only to the devotees. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gita, simply by discharging devotional service one can understand the transcendental position of the Supreme Lord. Those who are in the mode of goodness can partially enter into the transcendental understanding, but it is advised in Bhagavad-gita that one has to surpass this. The Vedic principles are based on the three qualities of the material modes. One has to transcend the three qualities, and then one can be situated in pure and simple spiritual life.
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