सत्त्वादिभिर्गुणैर्धत्ते पुरुषोऽव्यक्त ईक्षते ॥ १७ ॥
sattvādibhir guṇair dhatte
puruṣo ’vyakta īkṣate
sarga — of creation; ādau — in the beginning; prakṛtiḥ — the material nature; hi — indeed; asya — of this universe; kārya — the manifest products; kāraṇa — and subtle causes; rūpiṇī — embodying; sattva-ādibhiḥ — by means of goodness, passion and ignorance; guṇaiḥ — the modes; dhatte — assumes its position; puruṣaḥ — the Supreme Lord; avyaktaḥ — not involved in material manifestation; īkṣate — witnesses.
In the beginning of creation nature assumes, by the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance, its form as the embodiment of all subtle causes and gross manifestations within the universe. The Supreme Personality of Godhead does not enter the interaction of material manifestation but merely glances upon nature.
The Personality of Godhead is not subject to transformation like the subtle and gross material elements. Thus the Lord is avyakta, or not materially manifest at any stage of cosmic evolution. Regardless of the specific method of cataloging the material elements, the Lord remains the ultimate creator, maintainer and annihilator of the total cosmic situation.