नमस्ते श्रितसत्त्वाय धर्मादीनां च सूतये ।
निर्गुणाय च यत्काष्ठां नाहं वेदापरेऽपि च ॥ ४० ॥
namas te śrita-sattvāya
dharmādīnāṁ ca sūtaye
nirguṇāya ca yat-kāṣṭhāṁ
nāhaṁ vedāpare ’pi ca
brahma — the personified Vedas; uvāca — said; namaḥ — respectful obeisances; te — unto You; śrita-sattvāya — the shelter of the quality of goodness; dharma-ādīnām — of all religion, austerity and penance; ca — and; sūtaye — the source; nirguṇāya — transcendental to material qualities; ca — and; yat — of whom (of the Supreme Lord); kāṣṭhām — the situation; na — not; aham — I; veda — know; apare — others; api — certainly; ca — and.
The personified Vedas said: We offer our respectful obeisances unto You, the Lord, the shelter of the quality of goodness and therefore the source of all religion, austerity and penance, for You are transcendental to all material qualities and no one knows You or Your actual situation.
In the material world there is the trinity of the three material qualities. Lord Viṣṇu has accepted the superintendence of the quality of goodness, which is the source of religion, knowledge, austerity, renunciation, opulence, etc. Because of this, actual peace, prosperity, knowledge and religion can be attained when the living entities are under the control of the quality of goodness in the material world. As soon as they are subjected to the control of the other two qualities, namely passion and ignorance, their precarious conditional life becomes intolerable. But Lord Viṣṇu, in His original position, is always nirguṇa, which means transcendental to these material qualities. Guṇa means “quality,” and nir means “negation.” This does not indicate, however, that He has no qualities; He has transcendental qualities by which He appears and manifests His pastimes. The positive transcendental qualitative manifestation is unknown to the students of the Vedas as well as to the great stalwart demigods like Brahmā and Śiva. Actually, the transcendental qualities are manifested only to the devotees. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā, simply by discharging devotional service one can understand the transcendental position of the Supreme Lord. Those who are in the mode of goodness can partially enter into the transcendental understanding, but it is advised in Bhagavad-gītā that one has to surpass this. The Vedic principles are based on the three qualities of the material modes. One has to transcend the three qualities, and then one can be situated in pure and simple spiritual life.