Accompanied by Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna saw a large palace within the water. There were many thousands of pillars and columns made of valuable jewels, and the glaring effulgence of those columns was so beautiful that Arjuna was charmed by it. Within that palace, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa saw the gigantic form of Anantadeva, who is also known as Śeṣa. Lord Anantadeva, or Śeṣa Nāga, was in the form of a great serpent with thousands of hoods, each one decorated with valuable, effulgent jewels, beautifully dazzling. Each of Anantadeva’s hoods had two eyes, which appeared very fearful. His body was as white as the mountaintop of Kailāsa, which is always covered with snow. His necks were bluish, as were His tongues. Thus Arjuna saw the Śeṣa Nāga form, and he also saw that on the very soft, white body of Śeṣa Nāga, Lord Mahā-Viṣṇu was lying very comfortably. He appeared all-pervading and very powerful, and Arjuna could understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead in that form is known as Puruṣottama. He is known as Puruṣottama, the supreme or best Personality of Godhead, because from this form emanates within the material world another form of Viṣṇu, known as Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. The Mahā-Viṣṇu form of the Lord is also called Puruṣottama (Puruṣa-uttama) because He is beyond the material world. Tama means “darkness,” and ut means “above, transcendental”; therefore, uttama means “above the darkest region of the material world.” Arjuna saw that the bodily color of Puruṣottama, Mahā-Viṣṇu, was as dark as a new cloud in the rainy season. He was dressed in very nice yellow clothing, His face was beautifully smiling, and His eyes, which were like lotus petals, were very attractive. Lord Mahā-Viṣṇu’s helmet was bedecked with valuable jewels, and His beautiful earrings enhanced the beauty of the curling hair on His head. Lord Mahā-Viṣṇu had eight arms, all very long, reaching to His knees. His neck was decorated with the Kaustubha jewel, and His chest was marked with the symbol of Śrīvatsa, which means “the resting place of the goddess of fortune.” The Lord wore a garland of lotus flowers down to His knees. This long garland is known as a Vaijayantī garland.
The Lord was attended by His personal associates Nanda and Sunanda, and the personified Sudarśana disc was also standing by Him. As stated in the Vedas, the Lord has innumerable energies, and they also stood there in their personified forms. The most important among them were as follows: Puṣṭi, the energy for nourishment; Śrī, the energy of beauty; Kīrti, the energy of reputation; and Ajā, the energy of material creation. All these energies are invested in the administrators of the material world, namely Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and Lord Viṣṇu, and also in Indra (the King of the heavenly planets), Candra, Varuṇa and the sun-god. In other words, all these demigods, being empowered by the Lord with certain energies, engage in the transcendental loving service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Mahā-Viṣṇu feature is an expansion of Kṛṣṇa’s body. The Brahma-saṁhitā confirms that Mahā-Viṣṇu is a portion of a plenary expansion of Kṛṣṇa. All such expansions are nondifferent from the Personality of Godhead, but since Kṛṣṇa appeared within this material world to manifest His pastimes as a human being, He and Arjuna immediately offered their respects to Lord Mahā-Viṣṇu by bowing down before Him. It is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that Lord Kṛṣṇa offered respect to Mahā-Viṣṇu; this means that Kṛṣṇa offered obeisances unto none other than Himself, because Lord Mahā-Viṣṇu is nondifferent from Kṛṣṇa Himself. This offering of obeisances by Kṛṣṇa to Mahā-Viṣṇu is not, however, the form of worship known as ahaṅgrahopāsanā, which is sometimes recommended for persons trying to elevate themselves to the spiritual world by performing the sacrifice of knowledge. Such persons are also mentioned in the Bhagavad-gītā: jñāna-yajñena cāpy anye yajanto mām upāsate.
Although there was no necessity for Kṛṣṇa to offer obeisances, because He is the master teacher He taught Arjuna just how respect should be offered to Lord Mahā-Viṣṇu. Arjuna, however, became very much afraid upon seeing the gigantic form of everything, distinct from the material experience. Seeing Kṛṣṇa offering obeisances to Lord Mahā-Viṣṇu, he immediately followed Him and then stood before the Lord with folded hands. After this, the gigantic form of Mahā-Viṣṇu, greatly pleased, smiled pleasingly and spoke as follows.