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Suka was induced to laugh at this question. "O king, Maya itself has caused the multifarious forms. This is clever stage play, a kind of fancy dress. The objective world or nature assumes manifold forms through the manipulations of Maya, the deluding urge. On account of the primary impulse of delusion or ignorance, the Gunas arose and got intermixed, and time manifested with the change, and all this multiplicity called the universe appeared. So, the Jivi must dedicate himself to the master of this delusion, the director of this play, the manipulator of this time, the actor who sports the Gunas (types of behaviour, groups of qualities, bundles of attributes), the mother of all the worlds (Maya); he must fill himself with the understanding of the immeasurable power and glory of the imperishable absolute (Akshara Parabrahma); he must immerse himself in the bliss derivable therefrom. Then, he sheds all Ajnana and can be unattached, even when he uses the creations of Maya!"
The King was struck with wonder at these words of the sage. He said, "Lord, How did this creation first happen? What is the original substance which Maya caused to proliferate?" Suka elaborated these points. He said, "Creation is happening from beyond the beginning of time. First, the Lotus arose from the navel of the primal person, called in the scriptures Narayana. From this Lotus, the Lord Himself manifested as Brahma; Brahma felt an urge to look at all the four quarters; so, he developed four faces."
"Brahma became aware that he must activate himself, so that creation can happen; so He seated Himself in the Padmasana posture of Yoga and, entertained the idea of all this creation. Parikshith, the mystery of creation cannot be unravelled so easily, or understood so quickly. There can be no cause-consequence chain in the activities of the absolute. No one can examine or inquire successfully into the creative faculty and achievements of the supreme, which is omnipotent and omniscient. King, when I was just attempting to answer the questions you had framed earlier, you came forward with another. Perhaps, you felt that I might forget to give you the answers for those in my eagerness to answer the latest. No; you will certainly be enlightened on all the points, during the ensuing narration of the Bhagavatha story. All your questions are within the bounds of the Puranas".
When these consoling and satisfying words were heard by him, Parikshith queried, "Master! What are the Puranas? What are their contents? How many are they?" Suka replied, "The texts that elaborate the terse truths that are enshrined in the Vedas are called Puranas. They are numberless in extent. But, at present, 18 of them are outstandingly famous. These were collated and edited by my father, Vyasa. They have ten common characteristics; the supplements to these Puranas, called Upa-puranas have five characteristics only. You may ask what those ten are. I shall relate them to you, even before you ask! They are: Sarga, Visarga, Sthana, Poshana, Uthi, Manvanthara, Isanucharitha, Nirodha, Mukthi, and Asraya. The Asraya is the most important of these ten."