Nārada asks where the world, full of so many amazing specifics, comes from.
Brahmā says it comes from Brahman (“Great Being”) – and the fascinating thing is that this great being is “beyond specification” (“Beyond qualities” – nirguṇa) – because if it can be specified or qualified, then it must be delimitable, and then its greatness is not beyond measure.
Then Nārada asks a very big philosophical question which is a very troublesome riddle for Buddhist and Monist schools: “How is it possible that qualities come from something without qualities?”
It seems Brahmā is saying that the Great Being cannot be qualified at all, which is what Buddhists and Monists say. So Nārada asks for clarification, with this question.
Brahmā answers that the Great Being has Great Power (śakti), and this power has various qualities, so the riddle is solved. Buddhists and Monists cannot give this answer because it goes against their fundamental tenant that the Great Being is absolutely one – if it has power, then, they argue, this power is distinct and different from it, so it is no longer absolutely one.
Bhāgavatam is distinct from Buddhism and Monism because it explains from the outset that the Great Being is “Advaya Jñāna” – which means that it is consciousness (jñāna) in which pluralities (dvaya) are not significant (advaya). In other words, it is a unified whole, with distinct intrinsic parts. So it describes the fullest conception of Brahman (the “Great Being”) as Bhagavān, the possessor of Great Potency.
Potency or Power is śakti – sometimes called “energy” – which is defined as, “the means by which an agent accomplishes an objective.”
Bhāgavatam describes the Great Being not just as “consciousness” (brahman) but as “a conscious entity” (Paramātmā). It is consciousness, and it can use consciousness to perceive and act upon itself, which it manifests in various ways – thus producing the world with so much variety and specificity.
[This conversation between Brahmā and Nārada comes from Chapter Five of Part Two of Bhāgavata Purāṇa. You can read it in my translation: Creating the Creator.]