Mrs. Janhavi, a 28 years old seeker, holds a degree in commercial arts from Sophia College, Mumbai, India. Her father is an architect by profession working in Bahrain and her mother is a housewife. Her mother has a keen interest in Spirituality. Janhavi is married to Mr. Ramesh Shinde, himself a seeker totally devoted to spiritual practice.
Note: To see a sample of the Divine knowledge received by this seeker, please follow the link at the end of the article.
Q: How did you develop an interest in Spirituality?
A: Since my mother is spiritually inclined, the subject of Spirituality was not new to me. However, what was entirely new to me was what His Holiness Dr. Jayant Athavale introduced me to. He taught me to view art from an entirely different angle. He introduced me to ‘spiritual art'. This was a dimension of art that fitted well with the subject I had formally graduated in. It was vastly different in approach. In addition, it had spiritual parameters to go by in successfully accomplishing any project. It was this novel and remarkable approach that sparked my interest in Spirituality in the true sense.
Q: Can you tell us about the difference in approach?
A: The basic difference is that one does everything in art by asking God. It is not a case of ‘I did it because I liked it' but rather, ‘I did what God expected of me'. All one has to understand is that God knows much more than I do.
Q: Having understood this basic concept, how do you practically draw what ‘God wants you to draw’?
A: For example, when drawing a deity, we do not use our imagination but instead we meditate for a few minutes and then move our pencil on the paper, constantly checking if the direction is right, thus to accurately draw what God wants us to draw. Sometimes it can take as long as 6 months to finish one drawing based on subtle-knowledge. However the uniqueness of the end result is that the drawing based on subtle-knowledge is very sāttvik. It actually contains a high percentage of the divine principle in it.
Q: Do you remember the day you received the divine knowledge on art for the very first time?
A: Very much so! It was 15th September, 2005.
Q: How did it all begin?
A: It started after the idol of Sri Ganesh, was brought to the hermitage (Ashram) where I stay. This particular idol is unique as it was sculpted by a seeker Mr. Gurudas Khandeparkar through extensive spiritual research under the complete guidance of H.H. Dr. Jayant Athavale. The outcome has been the creation of an idol that is is almost 100% matching to the real Ganesh principle (as close as is possible in the present times of Kaliyug).
At that time I was involved in the compilation of the book ‘Spiritual Art – A Means of Seeking God'. On 15 September 2005, I was writing down some points, when all of a sudden I attained a very unique level of concentration. In that state of mind, a flow of thoughts began, which was entirely new to me. But more than the thoughts it was the Bliss associated with the thoughts that overwhelmed me.
Q: What were your feelings at that time?
A: My first thought at that time was, ‘All this is happening because of the blessings of Sri Ganesh'. No sooner did this thought come to my mind, I was graced with a vision of a white Ganesh idol. The bright white light emitted from this idol was radiating towards me. Under the influence of this divine light, my eyes and the rest of my body experienced a different kind of coolness and there were strange but pleasant sensations in my head. Instantly, my spiritual emotion was awakened and tears of joy started rolling down my eyes. In this spiritually awakened state, I was paying gratitude to Sri Ganesh over and over again.
Q: Do you have to invoke the Ganesh principle every time to receive knowledge or does the knowledge just come automatically?
A: It is not as if I invoke the Ganesh principle and the flow of knowledge starts. Conversely, the knowledge flow is not automatic either. It is only whenever a doubt arises about a certain point or the curiosity about a specific point increases that the Ganesh principle gets invoked and the flow of knowledge starts in the form of detailed answers to queries in my mind. Once the flow starts, I receive knowledge about related topics as well. So curiosity is the key factor here. As His Holiness Dr. Jayant Athavale would often say, ‘Only the curious are deserving of knowledge’.
In retrospect, I would say that God creates the curiosity in my mind. I say that this curiosity is God-inspired, as the knowledge I receive ends up being most required for accomplishing the service unto Truth (satsēvā) that I render, which in this case was compiling the book titled ‘Spiritual Art – A Means of Seeking God'. As a result, I have not received much divine knowledge after having completed the book.
Q: Who do you think is imparting the Knowledge and how do you know that it is divine?
A: Undoubtedly it is imparted by God. You see divine thoughts are charged with Bliss. There is continuity and steadiness in their flow. One can experience a vacuum in oneself at such times. The memory of the surroundings just vanishes. On some occasions one can experience subtle coolness.
'Is the knowledge that I receive really divine or is my mind playing a trick on me?' – such a doubt is not at all uncommon. To a certain extent, caution is required to safeguard against getting cheated by incorrect knowledge imparted by ghosts (demons, devil, negative energies, etc.). However, one is safeguarded as His Holiness Dr. Jayant Athavale Himself determines the authenticity of the knowledge.
Q: In what form is the divine knowledge received? For example, is it obtained pictorially through a vision or just through thoughts?
A: There isn’t a fixed pattern. It is a combination of pictorial inputs as well as those in the form of thoughts.
Q: What are the topics that you receive Divine Knowledge on?
A: The Divine Knowledge is mostly about spiritual art and the portraits of deities. So far I have received Divine Knowledge about spiritual vibrations and their speciality, spiritual colours, age of deities, etc.
Q: Does the knowledge come to you all day long or are there any specific times and specific places?
A: As I have said earlier, this Divine Knowledge flow is of a 'demand-supply' nature. There is no specific time or place. Having said all this, sitting near the sattvik Ganesh idol, sculpted under the guidance of H.H. Dr. Jayant Athavale does help.
Q: How much knowledge do you receive in a day?
A: On an average I receive knowledge on 2-3 topics in a day.
Q: While the Divine Knowledge reception is ‘on', what state are you generally in?
A: Bliss on most occasions. However, occasionally while receiving the Divine Knowledge, I suffer from panting, dizziness and heaviness in head.
Q: What efforts have gone into reaching this state where you are in direct communication with God?
A: If you are asking about the efforts I put in with the specific objective of receiving Divine Knowledge, then ‘None' is my answer. Initially, neither did I try to nor did I wish to get the Divine Knowledge. However, later God brought about some changes in my nature through the medium of the Sri Ganesh idol. The qualities that I had developed under the guidance of His Holiness Dr. Jayant Athavale were responsible for beginning this process. Just to quote a few:
Curiosity: The service unto Truth that I was doing brought me into close proximity with His Holiness Dr. Jayant Athavale. He would answer every query of mine, however silly it was, in such minutest details, that I learnt many a laws of not only Spirituality but of art as well, from Him. Had I not asked those questions, I would never have learnt. Now in place of His Holiness Dr. Jayant Athavale, it is Sri Ganesh who answers my queries.
Prayers and Confessions: According to His Holiness Dr. Jayant Athavale, the idol of Sri Ganesh is self-developed (Swayambhu). Ever since this idol has been brought to the Devad hermitage, there has been a qualitative improvement in my prayers and internal confessions. His sheer presence has increased my eagerness to seek God.
Gratitude: Because of the spiritual experiences that He gave me, I paid gratitude to not only Sri Ganesh but also to Mr. Gurudas Khandeparkar, the sculptuor seeker who made the idol.
Q: Since how long have you been seeking spiritual guidance from His Holiness Dr. Jayant Athavale?
A: I have been offering my service unto the Truth under the guidance of His Holiness Dr. jayant Athavale since 1996. I would like to share with you one of my early experiences that created a lasting impression on me.
One day while I was making a portrait of a deity, I could not get the proportion of one limb right. No matter how hard I tried, nothing seemed to work. I even used a model to get it right. Just then His Holiness Dr. Jayant Athavale came into the room. When I narrated my problem to Him, He just concentrated for a couple of seconds and gave me a reference point on the paper on which I was doing the sketching, and that was it. My problem was solved. The solution for which i had struggled for hours with all my instruments and a model, was literally at His pencil tip. Even though He is not trained as an artist, He seems to know every minute detail of every form of art. It is experiences such as this that have inspired me to pursue my spiritual quest through art.
Q: If you were to point out a single characteristic of your personality because of which you have been blessed with this divine gift, what would that be?
Q: Do you experience awakening of spiritual emotion when receiving the Divine Knowledge?
A: On most occasions, yes!
Q: Have you ever considered yourself special because you receive the Divine Knowledge and if so, how did you rid yourself of these ego inflating thoughts?
A: I would be lying if I say that these thoughts have not crossed my mind. However, every time there are thoughts of this nature, I am blessed enough to realize pretty soon their spiritually damaging impact on me. I immediately pay gratitude for both the gift of knowledge and being alerted about my egoistical thoughts. Then I surrender the doership of all my actions to God and pray. I also repeatedly emphasize upon my mind that my basic goal of realising God is still far away.
Q: Are there any changes in your personal/spiritual life ever since you started receiving the Divine Knowledge?
A: Definitely. There is a quantitative as well as qualitative rise in the chanting and prayers. My chanting is now getting synchronized with my breath. I get equal Bliss from other types of services unto the Truth as well. As a result, there is definite rise in the blissful moments in my life, both qualitatively and quantitatively.