sa vai yadā mahādevo
mene khilam ivātmānam
atha me ’bhihito devas
tapo ’tapyata dāruṇam
nava viśva-sṛjo yuṣmān
yenādāv asṛjad vibhuḥ
saḥ—that Lord Brahmā; vai—indeed; yadā—when; mahā-devaḥ—the chief of all the demigods; mama—My; vīrya-upabṛṁhitaḥ—being increased by the potency; mene—thought; khilam—incapable; iva—as if; ātmānam—himself; udyataḥ—attempting; svarga-karmaṇi—in the creation of the universal affairs; atha—at that time; me—by Me; abhihitaḥ—advised; devaḥ—that Lord Brahmā; tapaḥ—austerity; atapyata—performed; dāruṇam—extremely difficult; nava—nine; viśva-sṛjaḥ—important personalities to create the universe; yuṣmān—all of you; yena—by whom; ādau—in the beginning; asṛjat—created; vibhuḥ—the great.
When the chief lord of the universe, Lord Brahmā [Svayambhū], having been inspired by My energy, was attempting to create, he thought himself incapable. Therefore I gave him advice, and in accordance with My instructions he underwent extremely difficult austerities. Because of these austerities, the great Lord Brahmā was able to create nine personalities, including you, to help him in the functions of creation.
Nothing is possible without tapasya. Lord Brahmā, however, was empowered to create this entire universe because of his austerities. The more we engage in austerities, the more we become powerful by the grace of the Lord. Therefore Ṛṣabhadeva advised His sons, tapo divyaṁ putrakā yena sattvaṁ śuddhyed: “One should engage in penance and austerity to attain the divine position of devotional service. By such activity, one’s heart is purified.” (Bhāg. 5.5.1) In our material existence we are impure, and therefore we cannot do anything wonderful, but if we purify our existence by tapasya, we can do wonderful things by the grace of the Lord. Therefore tapasya is very important, as stressed in this verse.
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