aham brahma ca sarvas ca
jagatah karanam param
sri-bhagavan—Lord Visnu; uvaca—said; aham—I; brahma—Brahma; ca—and; sarvah—Lord Siva; ca—and; jagatah—of the material manifestation; karanam—cause; param—supreme; atma-isvarah—the Supersoul; upadrasta—the witness; svayam-drk—self-sufficient; avisesanah—there is no difference.
Lord Visnu replied: Brahma, Lord Siva and I are the supreme cause of the material manifestation. I am the Supersoul, the self sufficient witness. But impersonally there is no difference between Brahma, Lord Siva and Me.
Lord Brahma was born out of the transcendental body of Lord Visnu, and Lord Siva was born out of the body of Brahma. Lord Visnu, therefore, is the supreme cause. In the Vedas also it is stated that in the beginning there was only Visnu, Narayana; there was no Brahma or Siva. Similarly, Sankaracarya confirmed this: narayanah parah. Narayana, or Lord Visnu, is the origin, and Brahma and Siva are manifested after creation. Lord Visnu is also atmesvara, the Supersoul in everyone. Under His direction, everything is prompted from within. For example, in the beginning of the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated, tene brahma hrda: He first educated Lord Brahma from within.
In Bhagavad-gita (10.2) Lord Krsna states, aham adir hi devanam: Lord Visnu, or Krsna, is the origin of all demigods, including Lord Brahma and Lord Siva. In another place in Bhagavad-gita (10.8) Krsna states, aham sarvasya prabhavah: “Everything is generated from Me.” This includes all the demigods. Similarly, in the Vedanta-sutra: janmady asya yatah [SB 1.1.1]. And in the Upanisads is the statement yato va imani bhutani jayante. Everything is generated from Lord Visnu, everything is maintained by Him, and everything is annihilated by His energy. Therefore, by their actions and reactions, the energies which come from Him create the cosmic manifestations and also dissolve the whole creation. Thus the Lord is the cause and also the effect. Whatever effect we see is the interaction of His energy, and because the energy is generated from Him, He is both cause and effect. Simultaneously, everything is different and the same. It is said that everything is Brahman: sarvam khalv idam brahma. In the highest vision, nothing is beyond Brahman, and therefore Lord Brahma and Lord Siva are certainly nondifferent from Him.
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