Maha-Vishnu, also known as Karanodakashayi Vishnu, needs only to wish that prakrti (the material energy) will create, and by this she begins to act. But both must be present: purusa and prakrti, the Supreme Controller (Maha-Vishnu) and His material energy. Alone, prakrti cannot perform any function. It is only by the wish of Karanodakashayi Vishnu that prakrti begins to mix the elements in their appropriate proportions. Then, from her, unlimited universes manifest.
What is sambhu-tattva? From where does Sambhu (a manifestation of Lord Siva) come? Sambhu manifests from the union of the Supreme Lord with a transforming agent in form of the darkness aspect (tamo-guna) of maya, the minuteness aspect of tatastha-sakti, and a slight degree of the mixture of the knowledge aspect (samvit-guna) and pleasure aspect (hladini) of the spiritual energy (cit-sakti). [This is also explained in Brahma-samhita 5.45 (commentary)]
The original personality of Godhead is Lord Krishna. From Him comes Baladeva Prabhu, from Baladeva Prabhu comes Mula-Sankarsana in Dvaraka, from Mula-Sankarsana comes Maha-Sankarsana in Vaikuntha, and Maha-Sankarsana expands into Karanodakashayi Vishnu. Only for the purpose of the creation of the material world does Karanodakashayi Vishnu manifest. Karanodakashayi Vishnu desires the creation of the material world: "Let there be a material world." Maya is his desire potency (iccha-sakti), which is not pure because the desire is for material creation.
Mula-Sankarsana, Maha-Sankarsana, and all other incarnations have no desire for material creation. Not even by mind do they desire maya. But Karanodakashayi Vishnu desires it, and He therefore looks towards maya. As Vishnu-tattva, Karanodakashayi Vishnu is pure, but at the same time He is not pure tattva, eternal tattva, because He has some desire to create this world. Only for the creation of the material universes, as manifested from the Viraja River (the marginal area between the spiritual and material creation) is He is needed; otherwise not. Only for the purpose of creation will that form manifest. So He is not nitya-tattva, and eternal Truth. In the form of Maha-Sankarsana, Vishnu-tattva is eternal, but in the form of Karanodakashayi Vishnu He is not.
So, He desired, or glanced over maya. Desiring means glancing. This desire to serve in the function of creation is the nimitta-karana, or the instrumental course, of this material world. But this desire, or glancing for the purpose of creation, is not completely pure. His desire to serve Krishna is pure, but the desire to create is called abhasa, a semblance of the original desire. This semblance is called Sambhu-linga, and the shadow of Maha-Vishnu's sakti in Vaikuntha, Ramadevi, is called prakrti. The shadow of Ramadevi and the shadow of Maha-Vishnu unite, and in this way the creation takes place.
When Maha-Vishnu (Karanodakashayi Vishnu) desires this world to be created and unites with Maya (the shadow of Rama-devi), then Brahma (Brahmaa, with long a) is born. Brahma can be of two types: One is Hiranyagarbha Brahma, who is a direct expansion of Garbhodakasayi Vishnu and is like Vishnu Himself, and the other is Vairaja-jiva (Brahma who is a jiva, a living entity), who is like our four-headed Brahma. [This is also explained in Shrimad-Bhagavatam 5.20.44, purport by Shrila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja] Of the two, Hiranyagarbha Brahma is superior, and He is like Garbhodakasayi Vishnu; He induces our Brahma to act and do his duty.
Maha-Vishnu is also of two kinds: One is upadana-karana and the other is nimitta-karana (the ingredient and the instrumental causes. Nimitta-karana is Karanodakashayi Vishnu himself, and upadana-karana is Advaita Acharya, who looks towards the upadana-prakrti, the ingredient-energy (unmanifested material nature). In this way, the twenty-four ingredients of the material world assemble. Karanodakashayi Vishnu desires that these elements combine, and therefore they combine and manifest unlimited universes.
Advaita Acharya is a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of Nityananda Prabhu. Nonetheless, in the pastimes of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, they quarrel with each other in jest. Advaita Acharya is Vishnu-tattva, and Nityananda Prabhu is the head of the Vishnu-tattva. Externally they quarrel with each other, but actually they are glorifying each other, revealing their respective tattvas, or positions.
Today is the birthday of Advaita Acharya. He is very powerful, as can especially be understood by the fact that He brought Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to this world. Otherwise, there was no certainty when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would come. Krishna, in the form of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, wanted to come; but if He would have come by His own sweet will, perhaps He would have done so at the end of Kali-yuga. But Advaita Acharya called Him with Tulasi leaves, which are also very powerful. Along with offering Tulasi and Ganges water, Advaita Acharya called to Krishna: "Come at once; otherwise I will manifest My four arms and destroy the entire world." He then heard an aerial voice: "Please don't worry. Everything will be managed."
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: Krishna had some fear that Advaita would destroy the world, so He came.
Shrila Gurudeva: Very soon after that, Krishna appeared in the form of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to manifest His pastimes. It is for this reason that Advaita Acharya is called Gaura-ana Thakura, which means: "He who brought Chaitanya Mahaprabhu." He is also called Nada, which means: "He who can shake the throne of Krishna." Advaita Acharya called, "Please come, Please come," and Krishna came. Advaita Acharya Prabhu ki jaya! Jaya ho!
Syamarani dasi: Gurudeva, you said that Karanodakashayi Vishnu's desire to create the world was not pure, and therefore He is not purna-tattva or pure tattva.
Shrila Gurudeva: He is not pure tattva like Narayana, Baladeva Prabhu, or Krishna. They are all Vishnu-tattva, but the three Vishnus who are involved in creation, maintenance, and destruction of this world are not pure tattva. Actually, by tattva they are pure, but not by their action or desire. After the destruction of this world, Ksirodakasayi Vishnu will enter into Garbhodakasayi Vishnu, and Garbhodakasayi Vishnu will enter into Maha-Vishnu (Karanodakashayi Vishnu). Advaita Acharya also will enter into Maha-Vishnu. The whole creation will enter in Maha-Vishnu. And Maha-Vishnu will enter into Maha-Sankarsana.
Dhristadyumna dasa: Gurudeva, in your Prabandhavali lecture you explained that the efficient cause is compared to a judge who orders a policeman to capture a criminal. The policeman is likened to the upadana, the ingredient cause. But actually, the cause of the problem is the criminal's actions. So, is it by the desire of the living entities to enjoy that Krishna manifests this creation, or does He desire to manifest the creation and then the living entities...
Shrila Gurudeva: Loka-vat lila-kaivalyam (Brahma-sutra 2.1.34). This means: "Why should He not perform a pastime like this?" Nothing happens without His desire. He desires a pastime wherein the jivas forget Him. Otherwise the eternal, pure jiva could never forget Him, even though in the tatastha position. Even in the tatastha position the jiva is pure; therefore how can he forget Krishna? Everything happens due to Krishna's desire.
In Jaiva-dharma, Vrajanatha asks his gurudeva. "It seems that Krishna is not merciful. Why is He acting like this?" His guru answers: "Why not? This is one kind of pastime. Without this type of pastime Krishna would not be complete; so it must be there."
When Shri Advaita Acharya was a young child, he was exceedingly beautiful, with eyes like lotus petals. One day His father took him to the king's palace, where a large deity of goddess Durga was being worshiped, with many arms and wearing a garland of the demons' skulls. Many people were present, including the king, who also honored and worshiped the goddess.
Advaita Acharya's father prayed to the goddess with folded palms, but his son, Kamalaksa (Advaita Acharya's childhood name), who was about five years old, would not pay pranamas. The king became upset and told Kamalaksa's father, "Your child is an atheist. He is not giving proper respect to Durga-devi. Have you not trained him properly?" Kamalaksa's father requested Kamalaksa, "At least to please the king, you should pay pranamas. Why don't you do it? What is the problem?" When they urged him again and again, Kamalaksa finally explained: "If I pay my pranamas to her, she will burst like an atom bomb." He was thinking to himself: "I'm her husband; my wife will not tolerate my paying pranamas to her." In this mood he said, "She will not be able to tolerate my pranamas." His father argued: "At least do it one time." Kamalaksa thus paid his pranamas, and at once the body of the Durga burst into pieces with a tremendous sound. Both the king and his father began thinking, "Who is He?" But even then, they could not understand.
In the Indian Vedic culture, brahmanas are honored as superior to all other castes. Mohammedans, Yavanas, on the other hand, are considered outcastes. Hindus consider Muslims to be low class, because Muslims in general eat cow flesh and engage in other abominable activities. [In Vedic culture, the killing of cows and bulls are equated with killing one's mother and father]. But Haridas Thakur, although born in a Muslim family, always chanted and remembered the holy names of Krishna, and therefore Advaita Acharya held him in high esteem.
One day, Advaita Acharya observed the sraddha ceremony for the demise of His father. In this ceremony it is customary to offer foodstuffs to Thakuraji, and afterwards to offer the first prasada to the most prominent person of the community. This person should be learned, senior in age, and highly respected. Thousands of high-class brahmanas and learned scholars were present and waiting to see whom Advaita Acharya would invite to do this, and especially those who were usually honored at such functions expected that He would call on them.
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: They all thought, "He'll call on me just now, He'll call on me just now." But He did not call on any of them.
Shrila Gurudeva: He went outside the house and brought Haridas Thakur, but Haridas Thakur could not understand why He was being pulled inside. Advaita Acharya forcefully pulled him inside and offered him the seat of honor and the first prasada. He told Haridas in front of everyone else, "Feeding millions of highly qualified brahmanas cannot compare with the fruit that I will obtain by honoring and feeding you."
Haridas Thakur was ashamed to accept this honor; he was weeping. But Advaita Acharya insisted. Therefore, only to please Advaita Acharya, Haridas accepted the offering.
All the brahmanas became upset, thinking, "What silly thing is going on here? Advaita Acharya has become totally mad. He has no intelligence. Why he is bringing a Muslim, who takes cow flesh and is untouchable?" They told Advaita Acharya, "If you continue behaving like this, we will leave at once. We will reject you and expel you from our brahmana caste forever." Advaita Acharya answered, "I don't care. What I'm doing is right. He is a pure devotee. He is not Hindu, Muslim, brahmana, ksatriya, or vaisya."
Mahaprabhu has taught us:
naham vipro na ca nara-patir napi vaisyo na sudro
naham varni na ca grha-patir no vanastho yatir va
gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah
["I am not a brahmana, I am not a ksatriya, I am not a vaisya or a sudra. Nor am I a brahmacari, a householder, a vanaprastha or a sannyasi. I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Shri Krishna, the maintainer of the gopis. He is like an ocean of nectar, and He is the cause of universal transcendental bliss. He is always existing with brilliance." (Chaitanya-charitamrita Madhya-lila, 13.80)]
Advaita Acharya continued, "There is no one more pure in the world than the pure devotee who is always chanting and remembering Krishna's names. I think that in this whole universe there is no one more qualified to receive this offering than Haridas Thakur. Therefore I have invited him. If you like, you can go; no harm." As soon as the brahmanas left the house, they understood that actually Advaita Acharya was right. Therefore they returned and asked for forgiveness from Shrila Haridas Thakur.
Shripad Madhava Maharaja: When they came out, some persons told them, "Don't you remember how Durga-devi vanished when He paid pranamas to her as a small boy? Who is he? He has no fault at all. If you turn against him, your whole dynasty will be ruined."
Shrila Gurudeva: One time, when Jagai and Madhai were doing nonsense in Navadvipa, Nityananda Prabhu tried to bring Haridas Thakur to beg them to chant the holy name. Haridas Thakur warned Nityananda Prabhu, "What are you doing?! They will come and beat us both, and we may die. By calling these demons, You are inviting death!"
"I want to test whether Nimai Pandita is really Krishna, and to see whether He is powerful or not," answered Nitai. "He has ordered us to go and advise everyone to chant 'Krishna.' He told Me, 'If anyone will not chant, or not follow Your advice, I will take My cakra and cut off his head.' I want to see whether or not He is telling the truth. I think that these two persons are qualified candidates, most qualified for this test.
With these words He approached them, while Haridas Thakur stayed a little back, saying, "You can go. I will not go." Nityananda Prabhu went very close, calling out, "Jagai, Madhai, chant Hare Krishna, at least one time." The two looked at Nityananda Prabhu with eyes reddish from taking wine and liquor, and tried to attack Him.
Haridas Thakur and Nityananda Prabhu ran away. Being stout, Haridas Thakur could not run so fast. Nityananda Prabhu ran very fast, but Haridas was breathing heavily, finding it difficult to keep up the pace. The two drunkards followed behind, until they finally came to a junction. They did not know which lane Nityananda Prabhu and Haridas Thakur had taken, and therefore they went the wrong way. In this way, Nityananda Prabhu and Haridas Thakur were somehow saved.
When they met Advaita Acharya, Advaita Acharya asked Haridas Thakur: "Why are you breathing so heavily?" Haridas replied, "Oh, our life was in danger. I told Shripad (Nityananda Prabhu) not to go close to Jagai and Madhai, but He selected them as most qualified to receive Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's mercy. He did not listen to my warning. He went to them and told them, "Oh, you should chant 'Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.' They proceeded to quickly attack us, and we had to run for our lives. They wanted to kill us, but somehow by Krishna's mercy we were saved. He ran quickly, but I could not, so I was more in danger than Him."
Thereupon Advaita Acharya said, "Don't remain always with Nityananda. Don't trust Him. I know that these two are drunkards, and He is also a drunkard. And Nimai Pandita, oh, He is the topmost drunkard. I'm seeing that tomorrow these four drunkards will sit together and drink and dance. Don't go with Him. Otherwise your life will be in danger."
Haridas Thakur began to smile, and replied, "Oh, Prabhu, don't cheat me. I know that simply by Nityananda Prabhu's desire they are already liberated. The rest is only formality. Surely they are liberated – just as when a rope is burnt, it still looks like a rope, but only its ashes remain."
The next day, Nityananda Prabhu and Haridas again went preaching together. In this way, Advaita Acharya was glorifying Nityananda Prabhu in a tricky way.
Advaita Acharya Prabhu ki jaya! Sitanatha, the husband of Sita-devi, ki jaya! Gaura-ana Thakura ki jaya! Kamalaksa Prabhu ki jaya! Advaita Acharya's quarreling with Nityananda Prabhu ki jaya!