परो मदन्यो जगतस्तस्थुषश्च
ओतं प्रोतं पटवद्यत्र विश्वम् ।
नस्योतवद्यस्य वशे च लोक: ॥ १२ ॥
paro mad-anyo jagatas tasthuṣaś ca
otaṁ protaṁ paṭavad yatra viśvam
yad-aṁśato ’sya sthiti-janma-nāśā
nasy otavad yasya vaśe ca lokaḥ
yamaḥ uvāca — Yamarāja replied; paraḥ — superior; mat — than me; anyaḥ — another; jagataḥ — of all moving things; tasthuṣaḥ — of nonmoving things; ca — and; otam — crosswise; protam — lengthwise; paṭavat — like a woven cloth; yatra — in whom; viśvam — the cosmic manifestation; yat — of whom; aṁśataḥ — from the partial expansions; asya — of this universe; sthiti — the maintenance; janma — the creation; nāśāḥ — the annihilation; nasi — in the nose; ota-vat — like the rope; yasya — of whom; vaśe — under the control; ca — and; lokaḥ — the whole creation.
Yamarāja said: My dear servants, you have accepted me as the Supreme, but factually I am not. Above me, and above all the other demigods, including Indra and Candra, is the one supreme master and controller. The partial manifestations of His personality are Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, who are in charge of the creation, maintenance and annihilation of this universe. He is like the two threads that form the length and breadth of a woven cloth. The entire world is controlled by Him just as a bull is controlled by a rope in its nose.
The order carriers of Yamarāja suspected that there was a ruler even above Yamarāja. To eradicate their doubts, Yamarāja immediately replied, “Yes, there is one supreme controller above everything.” Yamarāja is in charge of some of the moving living entities, namely the human beings, but the animals, who also move, are not under his control. Only human beings have consciousness of right and wrong, and among them only those who perform sinful activities come under the control of Yamarāja. Therefore although Yamarāja is a controller, he is only a departmental controller of a few living entities. There are other demigods who control many other departments, but above them all is one supreme controller, Kṛṣṇa. Īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ: the supreme controller is Kṛṣṇa. Others, who control their own departments in the affairs of the universe, are insignificant in comparison to Kṛṣṇa, the supreme controller. Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (7.7), mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya: “My dear Dhanañjaya [Arjuna], no one is superior to Me.” Therefore Yamarāja immediately cleared away the doubts of his assistants, the Yamadūtas, by confirming that there is a supreme controller above all others.
Śrīla Madhvācārya explains that the words otaṁ protam refer to the cause of all causes. The Supreme Lord is both vertical and horizontal to the cosmic manifestation. This is confirmed by the following verse from the Skanda Purāṇa:
otāḥ protāś ca sa sthitāḥ
evaṁ viṣṇāv idaṁ viśvam
otaṁ protaṁ ca saṁsthitam
Like the two threads, horizontal and vertical, of which a quilt is manufactured, Lord Viṣṇu is situated as the vertical and horizontal cause of the cosmic manifestation.