Question: In Anuccheda 16 of the Bhagavat Sandarbha, it is explained that Bhagavān’s potencies are intrinsic to Him because He alone existed before anything came into existence—aham eva asam eva agre (SB 2.9.33). The commentary mentions that this proves that the potencies are inherent in Brahman. But we also see that the māyā-śakti is not inherent in Bhagavān but is kept away. This seems to be a contradiction.
Answer: When it is said that māyā is not inherent, it is to imply that it is not antaraṅgā. Otherwise, all potencies are inherent in Him.
Question: Further, in the aham eva asam eva agre verse, it is not that prakṛti does not exist. It exists as pradhāna, and not in the svarūpa of Bhagavān but separate from Him. Does this not contradict the concept of aham eva asam agre?
Answer: No, it does not contradict. All potencies exist in Him, but a distinction is made between the potencies. Māyā is ultimately also His inherent potency, but Bhagavān is not affected by the transformations of māyā and thus, and only in this sense, māyā is called external.
The whole idea is to understand that there is only one independent Reality replete with all potencies. This brings up the difficulty of accommodating the material world within Him because then He would undergo transformation, which is not acceptable. This riddle is solved by keeping māyā as bahiraṅgā–śakti. Māyā is not independent of Him. Vyāsa saw that māyā was sheltered by Bhagvān – māyāñ ca tad-apāśrayam (SB 1.7.4).
Question: What is the relationship between the jñāna-śakti, kriya-śakti, and dravya-śakti of the Lord with sattva, rajas, and tamas guṇas?
Answer: There is a one-to-one correspondence among them, in that order.
Question: Are the three guṇas products or manifestations of these śaktis?
Answer: No. These are two distinct energies.
Question: Do these energies have spiritual manifestations as well?
Answer: Yes. The spiritual counterparts are sat, cit, and ānanda. But they are not manifestations of these śaktis.
Question: We understand that the intelligence controls the mind and the mind controls the senses. Sattva–guṇa is superior to rajo-guṇa. However, during the primary creation, why does the mind appear from sāttvika ego, and intelligence appear from the rājasika ego?
Answer: The controlling feature is a characteristic of rajas. Buddhi performs the function of controlling the mind therefore it must be from rajas. We perceive things through our mind with the help of the senses. To perceive, sattva is necessary, because knowledge is a function of sattva. The mind really does not control the senses. Control is done with the help of buddhi. Because the mind is a product of sattva, it is peaceful by nature. It appears disturbed and turbulent because we have disturbed and agitated it. A child’s mind is peaceful and therefore children often appear to be serene and attractive. However, as we grow, we create disturbances for our mind.
Question: In Śrīmad Bhāgavata 2.5.24, it is said, “That ahaṅkāra transforms into three types: derived from sattva, rajas, and tamas, called jñāna-śakti, kriyā-śakti, and dravya-śakti.” You said that sattva corresponds to jñāna-śakti. Do you mean that jñāna-śakti acts upon ahaṅkāra and produces sattva?
Answer: It is ahaṅkāra in sattva that gives rise to jñāna-śakti.