The Nature of Acintya
Posted August 14, 2005
Many years ago I was waiting to use the bathroom at the Los Angeles Hare Krishna temple. It was a crowded Sunday feast and there was a gentleman standing in front of me who apparently claimed to have lived in the temple a short time and somehow or other the subject of Srimad-Bhagavatam came up. I said something about how great the Bhagavatam was and he looked me directly in the eye and said, "You don't really believe everything you read in the Bhagavatam, do you?" At the time I was somewhat innocent and shocked that a supposed devotee would say that because, yes, I took everything in the Srimad-Bhagavatam to be absolutely perfect knowledge, and still do. After all, it is regarded as "superhuman." Later, I began to start thinking about the nature of "acintya" or that which is inconceivable.
Of late, various devotees have come forward on various Hare Krishna websites to share their views in a rebuttal to an original article that questioned various conclusive statements within the "Srimad-Bhagavatam."
One of the issues had something to do with the planet Rahu attacking the moon for example and thus, the reason why at times we have an eclipse of the moon. In another article it appeared that even the character of Sukadeva Goswami Himself, who recited the entire Bhagavatam on the banks of the sacred River Ganges 5,000 years ago to Maharaja Pariksit came into question and it seemed to me that the writer was putting Sukadeva within the realm of an "ordinary" human being. Of course, this is not true.
Be that as it may, some have come forward to state that the above regarding the Rahu planet etc. is basically an allegory and that this and many other statements within the Srimad-Bhagavatam must not be taken literally. My answer to all of this is, why not?
Very highly advanced, pure acaryas in the Vaisnava tradition from within the parampara itself as well as demigods like Lord Brahma, the first created creature in the universe have declared unequivocally how the Srimad-Bhagavatam is a spotless purana. Srila Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself and the six goswamis of Vrndavana headed by Srila Rupa and Jiva Goswami wrote scores of books 500 years ago elucidating the spotless nature of the Srimad-Bhagavatam as our only evidence regarding the nature and nomenclature of the Absolute Truth Himself, Lord Sri Krsna.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam itself in fact are the "golden keys" of this ISKCON movement. For without them, how would we know that Krsna is God and the nature of bhakti, love and devotion? We wouldn't. This was Srila Prabhupada's great gift to humanity and the reason he labored so hard translating these great works prior to coming to America in 1965. The Srimad-Bhagavatam is the foundation on which the Krsna consciousness movement is built and will be maintained for the next 10,000 years.
Perhaps the issue at hand, if we delve deeply enough, has more to do with direct realization in regard to the almighty Himself and the nature of "acintya" or that which we find inconceivable. The fact of the matter is this, as devotees we must accept the puranas and the Vedic literatures in whole as being our main weapon of defense against the onslaught of atheists and impersonalists in this miserable world of birth and death. Actually, the Srimad-Bhagavatam is our life and soul as well. It is sastra deity.
One must realize, without a doubt that while there are some aspects that the mind may or may not want to accept (sankalpa/vikalpa) within the Bhagavatam we should take into consideration that even if there are allegories and/or metaphors within the texts, the Srimad-Bhagavatam emanates from the breathing of Lord Sri Krsna Himself and is therefore not subject to our materially conditioned minds. It is, "as it is." If God chooses to include something we deem allegorical than I would assume Krsna has a very good reason else it would not be included. Therefore, the Bhagavatam is without error and all good all the time, eternally.
While there may be some doubt of the Bhagavatam's conclusions there may also be a fear that one will fall victim to the dictates of his/her mind and reject that which is "conceivable" such as the nature of bhakti, the spiritual world and the potency of the holy names of God, Hare Krsna, Hare Rama. Unless controlled, the mind is a very fickle instrument.
But the fact is this, there is absolutely no difference between the Srimad-Bhagavatam and the personal body of Lord Sri Krsna Himself. They are identical as Srila Prabhupada stated. Thus, we must accept with sraddha, faith (not blind faith) but firm faith based on the conclusions of the Bhagavatam itself.
The only crude analogy I can come up with that might make sense is to imagine a round block of swiss cheese the size of planet earth. On one side of the cheese there are two small ants quibbling about how vast the cheese is in comparison to where they are. See what I mean? Because the cheese itself is so vast, they will never come to any conclusions and if told how big the block of cheese really is, they would discard the answer as being "acintya," inconceivable.
The best thing to do is to accept the Bhagavatam's conclusions and go about with our devotional service and the chanting of the holy name and perhaps in time, Krsna will reveal these truths within the heart of the aspirant free from mundane illusions.
For those who would like to investigate this science further there is
an excellent book by His Holiness Danavir Goswami entitled, "Vedic
Cosmology" at: www.rvc.edu.