Q. You once said that sometimes poetic descriptions are used in the Bhagavatam. For example, a man with a thousand arms may be a poetic way of describing a big person. How then should we approach the sacred literatures: literally or symbolically?
A. How can a book of poetry be without this? We should try to find the philosophical message in each episode of the Bhagavata first. Later we may live in the poetic Bhagavata world. For preaching it is important to focus on the tattva of the treatise. If people are not able to fathom descriptions of persons with ten heads, and so on, we should not be concerned as much about convincing them of this as we are about other philosophical issues like sense control, the primacy of consciousness, etc.