On Narada’s request Brahma said-
“During the period of MahaPralaya (Final annihilation) nothing exist, except Shiva. The power which Shiva manifested from his own self came to be known as Ambika. This Ambika is understood to be the cause of the whole world as well as the Nature. Lord Shiva then created a Shivaloka, which is known as Kashi. It is the abode of Shiva and Parvati. A man who makes a pilgrimages of Kashi attains salvation.
Lord Shiva, felt the need of somebody, who could look after the creation in his absence, as he wanted to retire along with Ambika at Kashi. The unified energy of Shiva and Ambika, resulted into a radiant physical form of a child. The child asked Shiva about his name and purpose of his being.
Lord Shiva named the child as Vishnu and advised him to do a penance which would help him to attain all kinds of accomplishment. He then offered him the knowledge of Vedas, through his breath. For this reason it has been said-
“YASYA NISHVASITAM VEDAH ” Meaning: Whose exhaled air is Veda.
Vishnu followed the instruction of Shiva and did a tremendous penance for twelve years, but still he was not successful in having a darshan of lord Shiva for the second time. He became worried. He heard a heavenly voice, instructing him to do further penance.
Vishnu then recommenced his penance. It continued for many days. By the blessings of Shiva, numerous fountain of streams errupted from his body, which spread in all directions in the form of Brahma. Vishnu was very pleased to see that stream. He went to sleep in that streams due to which he also came to be known as ‘Narayan’. One who has his abode in the water. After that, all the five elements manifested from his self. The three qualities- Salva, Rajos and Tamas as well as the ego manifested from his body. Similarly, five Tanmantras (Subtle form of matter), Panchabhuta (Sky water, air, fire and earth) and ultimately five sense organs and five organs of action also manifested from. Altogether twenty-four types of element manifested from the body of Sri Vishnu.
Brahma told Narada-
“While Vishnu was sleeping in the water, a lotus flower manifested from the navel of Vishnu according to the wish of Shiva. On that lotus was seated with four heads. I did not see anything except that lotus flower. I had a desire to know about my identity. So I entered into the hollow tubular stalk of that lotus flower, but I was not able to find the source. I returned back to the same place. Suddenly I heard a voice which instructed me to do penance. I did a tremendous penance for twelve years with a desire to know about my creator. Being pleased with me, lord
Vishnu manifested before me with in his Chaturbhuj form, but I could not identify him, being influenced by the illusionary power of Shiva. I quarreled with him.”