1. Spiritual experience on first seeing His Holiness Dr. Athavale in a video
In 1999, my daughter, son-in-law and I were planning to visit His Holiness Dr. Athavale for the first time in Goa, India. I was living in the US at that time and prior to my trip, I visited Shilpa Kudtarkar, a seeker in the US who was also doing spiritual practice under the guidance of His Holiness Dr. Athavale. While I was at her home, Shilpa showed me a video of His Holiness Dr. Athavale. When I saw Him on the screen, I started crying due to my spiritual emotion being awakened. I also experienced all 8 forms of spiritual emotion over the next few hours. At that moment, I knew from within that God had graced me by bringing me to the Guru (evolved spiritual guide) whom I was yearning for.
2. Unconditional love of His Holiness Dr. Athavale
On 24 December 1999, by God’s immense grace I met His Holiness Dr. Athavale in the Ashram in Goa, India. This is an experience a seeker remembers forever. In this very first meeting with Him, He took a subtle reading of my spiritual attributes and they were expressed as percentages.
The subtle reading included parameters such as how much spiritual emotion I had, that I did not have spiritual distress, how much my desire for God was and how high my ego was. I was quite taken aback by the assessment as it showed that I had a long way to go. It came as a shock to me and I took a while to recover from the news. I felt that I was lacking as a student of Spirituality and wondered whether I was worthy of such a Guru.
However, that same night, as I was having dinner, His Holiness Dr. Athavale came to join me. He approached me ever so silently. I was not aware of Him coming until He sat across from me at the table. I will never forget the look that I saw in His eyes and will cherish it for all my life. The look was of warmth, unconditional love and kindness all rolled up into one. At that moment, God had given me a glimpse of what spiritual love is like and it is something that I had never seen from any person. I could not help remembering that just a few hours ago I felt that I was lacking as a student, but the Guru does not hold that against His student. In fact, He is a beacon of love and encouragement on how to take the student to the next step in their spiritual journey.