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Q. Some of the stories in the Bhagavatam are like Sci Fi or Fantasy novels.

How do we know they were not just made up by man, legends based on good spiritual ideas to give us spiritual knowledge in a way the culture at the time could understand. I believe there is a God, I believe without doubt there is an after life and reincarnation to help us grow spiritually. I do not believe karma is a punishment or a reward but a way to grow spiritually. I do not believe in transmigration because what would be the point ... that's like a punishment which has no value. I do love God and I want to believe in the texts and the only one I can really believe is the Bhagavad-Gita, without interpretation. I believe it speaks for itself, because the religious truths are the same as most other religions but the Srimad Bhagavatam is difficult to believe, other then as parables or stories to prove a point. Yes, our goal is ultimately to simply and humbly serve God and love Him. But a symptom of one's desire to love and serve is the eagerness to hear and know more about Him. It is natural that when you make friendship with someone, you want to know more intimately about their life, activities, likes and dislikes, about their opulence and other associates etc, which will enhance your intimate relationship with that person. In the same way, devotees do not want to just serve God as some abstract, unknown principle, but are eager to enter into a relationship with Him, to prepare to enter His kingdom and serve Him along with His eternal associates. To give us the opportunity to know Him better, God descends to this earth and performs superhuman pastimes along with His associates from the spiritual kingdom - this is not impossible for the Omnipotent Lord. Srimad Bhagavatam records some of these most intimate portrayals of the Lord's supernatural activities and loving exchanges - for us to reject them as parab les would be to reject a part of the revelation of Himself that He is giving us in order to help us come closer to Him. It may seem difficult or beyond one's comprehension to conceive of certain aspects of spiritual knowledge from our present level of spiritual evolvement. It is important therefore to get training in the spiritual science in a systematic, step-by-step manner, under the guidance of some realized devotee. For example, a young child who has just learned how to read will be thoroughly bewildered if he undertakes the task of comprehending high-school or college texts, without systematic guidance that takes him through different grades of knowledge, from the simple to the more complex. The Srimad Bhagavatam is compared to post-graduate studies, very much based on the principles of Bhagavad-Gita but elaborating those principles in great depth and detail. Therefore it is recommended that one should study Bhagavatam under the guidance of a Bhagavata (realized devotee). Without such help, it is quite possible that one may become confused by apparent contradictions. Therefore, presently, I would like to encourage you to strengthen your foundational faith and devotion, by following the basic principles as you are now doing and acting on those teachings which you are able to understand and relate to. By acting in knowledge, faith grows and matures to be able to access deeper truths. At the same time, please allow me to caution you not to reject or discount those parts of shastra you are unable to reconcile. If each of us starts accepting and rejecting parts of scripture that seem incredible to our limited minds, in effect we are simply being guided by our own fallible opinions, is it not? This is often the approach of mundane academic scholars and by this method of

successive rejection of what they "feel" is not rational or unacceptable, they have done great injustice and practically relegated the entire body of scriptures to the status of myth. However, when we really carry deep respect and honor for those who have presented these scriptures, and value their superior intelligence and judgment, how can we justify brushing aside their descriptions as superfluous or allegorical, when they themselves assert that these details are indeed factual, as Srila Prabhupada often does throughout the Bhagavatam. There are indeed some narrations in scriptures which are allegorical, but often it is cle arly indicated that they are so, and those descriptions which are held to be factual by the text itself, and by the great devotees, it would be best for us to defer to that even if it seems beyond our understanding for the present. One can admit one's ability to comprehend or penetrate into the meanings of these sections, admit that we have many preconceptions based on our own limited experience within this material world which blocks our ability to understand transcendence, and with sincere prayers to the Lord to give us the ability to understand His transcendental activities, continue studying. And if possible, you can seek out some realized devotees from whom you can hear the Bhagavatam. By this humble, devotional, and respectful approach to the Bhagavatam, you will get newer and fresher insights into its message.