While Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were talking, Brahmā returned after a moment’s interval (according to the duration of his life). We have information of Lord Brahmā’s duration of life from the Bhagavad-gītā: 1,000 times the duration of the four ages, or 1,000 x 4,320,000 years, constitute Brahmā’s twelve hours. Similarly, one moment of Brahmā’s time is equal to one year of our solar calculation. After one moment of Brahmā’s calculation, Brahmā came back to see the fun caused by his stealing the boys and calves. But he was also afraid that he was playing with fire. Kṛṣṇa was his master, and he had played mischief for fun by taking away His calves and boys. He was really anxious, so he did not stay away very long; he came back after a moment (of his calculation). He saw that all the boys and calves were playing with Kṛṣṇa in the same way as when he had come upon them, although he was confident that he had taken them and made them lie down asleep under the spell of his mystic power. Brahmā began to think, “All the boys and calves were taken away by me, and I know they are still sleeping. How is it that a similar batch of boys and calves is playing with Kṛṣṇa? Is it that they are not influenced by my mystic power? Have they been playing continually for one year with Kṛṣṇa?” Brahmā tried to understand who they were and how they were uninfluenced by his mystic power, but he could not ascertain it. In other words, he himself came under the spell of his own mystic power. The influence of his mystic power appeared like snow in darkness or a glowworm in the daytime. During the night’s darkness, the glowworm can show some glittering power, and the snow piled up on the top of a hill or on the ground can shine during the daytime. But at night the snow has no silver glitter, nor does the glowworm have any illuminating power during the daytime. Similarly, when the small mystic power exhibited by Brahmā was before the mystic power of Kṛṣṇa, it was just like snow at night or a glowworm during the day. When a man of small mystic power wants to show potency in the presence of greater mystic power, he diminishes his own influence; he does not increase it. Even such a great personality as Brahmā, when he wanted to show his mystic power before Kṛṣṇa, became ludicrous. Brahmā was thus confused about his own mystic power.
In order to convince Brahmā that all those calves and boys were not the original ones, the calves and boys who were playing with Kṛṣṇa transformed into Viṣṇu forms. Actually, the original ones were sleeping under the spell of Brahmā’s mystic power, but the present ones, seen by Brahmā, were all immediate expansions of Kṛṣṇa, or Viṣṇu. Viṣṇu is the expansion of Kṛṣṇa, so the Viṣṇu forms appeared before Brahmā. All the Viṣṇu forms were of bluish color and dressed in yellow garments; all of Them had four hands decorated with club, disc, lotus flower and conchshell. On Their heads were glittering golden helmets inlaid with jewels; They were bedecked with pearls and earrings and garlanded with beautiful flowers. On Their chests was the mark of Śrīvatsa, Their arms were decorated with armlets and other jewelry, and Their necks were just like conchshells. Their legs were decorated with bells, Their waists with golden belts, and Their fingers with jeweled rings. Brahmā also saw that upon the whole body of each Lord Viṣṇu, from the lotus feet up to the top of the head, fresh tulasī leaves and buds had been thrown. Another significant feature of the Viṣṇu forms was that all of Them were looking transcendentally beautiful. Their smiling resembled the moonshine, and Their glancing resembled the early rising of the sun. Just by Their glancing They showed Themselves to be the creators and maintainers of the modes of ignorance and passion. Viṣṇu represents the mode of goodness, Brahmā represents the mode of passion, and Lord Śiva represents the mode of ignorance. Therefore as the maintainer of everything in the cosmic manifestation, Viṣṇu is also the creator and maintainer of Brahmā and Lord Śiva.
After this manifestation of Lord Viṣṇu, Brahmā saw that many other Brahmās and Śivas and demigods and even insignificant living entities down to the ants and very small straws—movable and immovable living entities—were dancing, surrounding Lord Viṣṇu. Their dancing was accompanied by various kinds of music, and all of Them were worshiping Lord Viṣṇu. Brahmā realized that all those Viṣṇu forms were complete in mystic power, from the aṇimā perfection of becoming small like an atom up to becoming infinite like the cosmic manifestation. All the mystic powers of Brahmā, Śiva, all the demigods and the twenty-four elements of cosmic manifestation were fully represented in the person of Viṣṇu. By the influence of Lord Viṣṇu, all subordinate mystic powers were engaged in His worship. He was being worshiped by time, space, the cosmic manifestation, reformation, desire, activity and the three qualities of material nature. Lord Viṣṇu, Brahmā also realized, is the reservoir of all truth, knowledge and bliss. He is the combination of three transcendental features, namely eternity, knowledge and bliss, and He is the object of worship by the followers of the Upaniṣads. Brahmā realized that all the different forms of boys and calves transformed into Viṣṇu forms were not transformed by a mysticism of the type that a yogī or a demigod can display by specific powers invested in him. The calves and boys transformed into viṣṇu-mūrtis, or Viṣṇu forms, were not displays of viṣṇu-māyā, or Viṣṇu’s energy, but were Viṣṇu Himself. The respective qualifications of Viṣṇu and viṣṇu-māyā are just like fire and heat. In the heat there is the qualification of fire, namely warmth; and yet heat is not fire. The manifestation of the Viṣṇu forms of the boys and calves was not like the heat but was rather the fire—they were all actually Viṣṇu. Factually, the qualification of Viṣṇu is full truth, full knowledge and full bliss. Another example can be given with material objects, which are reflected in many, many forms. For example, the sun is reflected in many waterpots, but the reflections of the sun in the many pots are not actually the sun. There is no actual heat or light from the suns in the pots, although they appear like the sun. But the forms which Kṛṣṇa assumed were each and every one full Viṣṇu. The specific word used in this connection is satya-jñānānantānanda: satya means truth; jñāna, full knowledge; ananta, unlimited; and ānanda, full bliss.
The glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are so great that the impersonalistic followers of the Upaniṣads cannot reach the platform of knowledge to understand them. Especially the transcendental forms of the Lord are beyond the reach of the impersonalists, who can only understand, through studying the Upaniṣads, that the Absolute Truth is not matter, or is not materially restricted. From Kṛṣṇa’s expansion into Viṣṇu forms, Lord Brahmā could understand by his limited potency that everything movable and immovable within the cosmic manifestation is existing due to the expansion of the energy of the Supreme Lord.