|Canto 2: The Cosmic Manifestation||Chapter 7: Scheduled Incarnations with Specific Functions|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 2.7.39
sarge tapo 'ham ṛṣayo nava ye prajeśāḥ
sthāne 'tha dharma-makha-manv-amarāvanīśāḥ
ante tv adharma-hara-manyu-vaśāsurādyā
māyā-vibhūtaya imāḥ puru-śakti-bhājaḥ
sarge — in the beginning of the creation; tapaḥ — penance; aham — myself; ṛṣayaḥ — sages; nava — nine; ye prajeśāḥ — those who would generate; sthāne — in the middle while maintaining the creation; atha — certainly; dharma — religion; makha — Lord Viṣṇu; manu — the father of mankind; amara — the demigods deputed to control the affairs of maintenance; avanīśāḥ — and the kings of different planets; ante — at the end; tu — but; adharma — irreligion; hara — Lord Śiva; manyu-vaśa — subjected to anger; asura-ādyāḥ — atheists, the enemies of the devotees; māyā — energy; vibhūtayaḥ — powerful representatives; imāḥ — all of them; puru-śakti-bhājaḥ — of the supreme powerful Lord.
At the beginning of creation there are penance, myself [Brahmā], and the Prajāpatis, the great sages who generate; then, during the maintenance of the creation, there are Lord Viṣṇu, the demigods with controlling powers, and the kings of different planets. But at the end there is irreligion, and then Lord Śiva and the atheists full of anger, etc. All of them are different representative manifestations of the energy of the supreme power, the Lord.
The material world is created by the energy of the Lord, which is manifested in the beginning of the creation by the penance of Brahmājī, the first living being in the creation, and then there are the nine Prajāpatis, known as great sages. In the stage when the creation is maintained, there are devotional service to Lord Viṣṇu, or factual religion, the different demigods, and the kings of different planets who maintain the world. At last, when the creation is preparing to wind up, there is first the principle of irreligion, then Lord Śiva along with the atheists, full of anger. But all of them are but different manifestations of the Supreme Lord. Therefore Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Mahādeva (Śiva) are different incarnations of the different modes of material nature. Viṣṇu is the Lord of the mode of goodness. Brahmā is the lord of the mode of passion, and Śiva is the lord of the mode of ignorance. Ultimately, the material creation is but a temporary manifestation meant to give the chance of liberation to the conditioned souls, who are entrapped in the material world, and one who develops the mode of goodness under the protection of Lord Viṣṇu has the greatest chance of being liberated by following the Vaiṣṇava principles and thus being promoted to the kingdom of God, no more to return to this miserable material world.
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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness