Ms. Shilpa Deshmukh is a Home Science graduate who specialised in textile and clothing. She is also a trained Indian classical dancer in the Katthak dance form. Currently she devotes all her time towards rendering service to the absolute Truth under the guidance of the Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF). Her father, Mr. Dadaji Deshmukh, is a senior officer in IBP oil company in Nasik, India and her mother, Mrs. Shamala Deshmukh, is a housewife and seeker of SSRF. Even though Shilpa is quite young (24 years), she has spent a third of her entire life doing spiritual practice under the guidance of SSRF. This commitment has resulted in God bestowing His grace upon her and choosing her to be the medium for receiving His Divine Knowledge.
Note: To read a sample of the Divine Knowledge received by this seeker, please follow the link at the end of the article.
Q: What are your earliest memories of God?
A: In my childhood, when I used to feel fearful of situations such as being home alone or having a bad dream, I would instantly get a very strong feeling that Sri Ganesh is with me. This feeling would not only be strong enough to quell the feeling of fear but it would persist until the situation came back to normal. I do not remember even one occasion where God has not helped me to overcome fear. It was more of a ‘friend in need’ type of relationship as I was in no way a seeker at the time.
Q: How do you define a seeker then?
A: In my childhood it was as if God was following me wherever I went and in whatever I did. He would make His presence felt in times of my need. A seeker on the other hand is the one who, irrespective of one’s needs, tries to seek God wherever one goes and in whatever one does.
Q: How and when did you become a seeker?
A: I do not remember the exact date, but it was in July 97 when for the first time the urge to seek God was so strong that it prompted me to take a firm life-changing decision – ‘I want to realise God in this very life.’
This realisation is very vivid in my mind even today. It was the 19th of May 1997. His Holiness Dr. Athavale was to address a public meeting that evening in my hometown Nasik in Maharashtra, India. I had gone with my parents to render service unto the absolute Truth by assisting in the preparation of the meeting. The hall was jam-packed. We barely managed to get a place to sit in the last row. However my seat was such that I could get an unobstructed view of H.H. Dr. Athavale. More than His words, it is the experience that I remember so clearly (I later learned that it was a spiritual experience). While He was addressing the audience, I got the feeling that I was bonded to Him by some invisible, unbreakable strands. I was so impressed by His Divine Consciousness (Chaitanya) that I decided then and there that I would start spiritual practice under the guidance of SSRF. The seeds of my decision to become a seeker were sown in that meeting.
Q: However being a seeker is one thing and being a fully committed seeker who has given up the comforts of home-life to stay in a hermitage (Ashram) is quite another. How easy or rather difficult was the decision?
A: There is no question of the decision being easy or difficult as it was not an imposed one. However the circumstances were not exactly conducive for the decision to be an easy one. I enjoyed the wholehearted support of my mother in whatever I did as a seeker. However my father was firm on me taking up a job or starting some business. He wanted me to devote only the remainder of my time to activities of SSRF.
Q: So how did you manage to convince your father?
A: My father’s opposition was to my devoting full time only for spiritual practice. Remember he himself is a seeker and devotes a lot of his free time for service unto the absolute Truth. So initially I sought his permission to be away for a period of 2 months. I repeated the exercise one more time. Having sensed my intentions, he confronted me about it when I went to ask for permission for the third time. That was the time I made clear to him my one and only lifetime intention –‘To seek God under the guidance of SSRF,’ and that it implied being a full time seeker.
Q: Does he still hold a grudge against you?
A: He did a bit for quite some time, however it got diluted after I started receiving Divine Knowledge. When he, along with my mother, brother and sister came and stayed in the hermitage with me for a week this October, the remaining grudge vanished all together.
Q: When did this process of receiving Divine Knowledge start?
A: On 22nd January 2004.
Q: How did it all begin?
A: One day after I started staying in the SSRF hemitage, the 17th of December 2003 to be precise, H.H. Dr. Athavale told me that my medium to seek God will be the Indian classical dance. That day He asked me to conduct experiments on various body postures (mudrā) and take a subtle reading. Before beginning with the experiments, all I did was pray from the bottom of my heart. Although I had heard of subtle experiments, I had never conducted one. Immediately after the prayers, I started getting thoughts about dance. The information conveyed by these thoughts was refreshingly new. The best part about it was that while I was typing this information on the computer, I felt rejuvenated and blissful. Later during the day when I narrated the incident to H.H. Dr. Athavale, He said, “The flow of Divine Knowledge has started.”
Q: Ms. Shilpa, the first time is always special and remembered even after the novelty ceases to exist. But it also brings along the pressure of being able to receive the Knowledge. How did you cope with it?
A: When I started the subtle noting of the mudras in Indian classical dance, there was an anxiety of a new comer. There was also the pressure to live up to the expectations of H.H. Dr. Athavale. For a few moments, the pressure did shake me up. However after praying, I regained my composure and the flow of the Divine Knowledge started.
Q: How was it, once the flow of Divine Knowledge started?
A: From the first time onwards the flow of Divine Knowledge was in the form of thoughts and visions. When I get linked with God, there are pleasant ripples of spiritual emotion (bhāv) in my mind. Not only my mind, but the whole body feels light. The Divine thought waves that I catch are also light in nature. This feeling of lightness continues long after the process has stopped for the day.
Q: Were you curious about the identity of the source of Knowledge?
A: I was. When I asked, the energy identified itself as ‘Deity Shiva’ (one of Shiva’s functions in the universe is the Divine dance principle). In fact, while imparting Divine Knowledge about Indian classical dance, I was blessed with the vision of Shiva Himself on a couple of occasions in different body postures (mudras).
Q: Are you interested in classical dance?
A: Oh yes. I studied the Katthak form of Indian classical dance for nine years. I have answered six examinations in Katthak which is equivalent to reaching graduation stage.
Q: What means do you use to record the information you receive?
A: Whatever Knowledge I receive, I keep typing it directly on the computer. The problem arises when I do not have access to it; as the flow of Knowledge can start any time and anywhere. Initially on many occasions, I had to pray and plead guilty to God for asking Him to stop the transmission, lest I may forget. Later on, I made it a practice to always carry a pen and a note pad.
Q: I suppose getting Divine Knowledge does not mean that your own thought process has stopped all together. If so, how do you distinguish between your own and Divine thoughts?
A: In the initial stages when I started getting these thoughts any time and anywhere, I too started wondering whether they are mine or Divine. Subsequently I started praying to God to help me differentiate between the two. As always, He has His own ways of telling me when it is Divine Knowledge. Whenever the thoughts are mine my head becomes heavy, whereas when the thoughts are Divine my head not only becomes light, but I feel enthusiastic as well.
Q: Is the flow of Knowledge smooth or are there any obstacles?
A: As I have just said, the flow of Knowledge is invariably associated with a feeling of lightness and enthusiasm. Only occasionally there is a heaviness in the head or a lack of enthusiasm or reluctance to accept the Knowledge. However it is only in the beginning and the intensity reduces with the passage of time.
Q: Can you tell us about the most memorable part in this phase of receiving Divine Knowedge?
A: It was a phase when I was experiencing intense spiritual distress. On 28th April 2005, the sorcerer (māntrik) tormenting me manifested. The seekers from the subtle department of SSRF were treating me. I had fallen fast asleep. In the sleep, I had a vision of H.H. Dr. Athavale sitting next to me and treating me through the medium of flowers. After that for a few days I started getting visions of flowers from different subtle worlds and getting Divine Knowledge about them. Those days I was sort of in a state of perpetual Bliss (Ānand).
Q: What are these flowers from subtle world? How do they look? How do they smell?
A: These are flowers from different subtle worlds belonging to different deities. These are the flowers that we don’t see in this world. Their fragrance, colours, appearance are beyond description. I shall quote a few examples. Once I saw a blue coloured flower, which was radiating pale blue coloured light. The moment I had the vision of this flower, my spiritual emotion towards Sri Krishna was awakened and I was paying gratitude to Him. On another occasion, I had the vision of a golden Lotus flower of Goddess Laxmi. This flower was emitting spiritual emotion and energy. The colour of spiritual emotion was blue and color of energy was white. I cannot tell you anything more about these flowers as the Knowledge about them is not yet complete and whatever is received so far is being verified by H.H. Dr. Athavale for authencity.
Q: So it’s over 2 years now that you have been receiving Divine Knowledge, isn’t it?
A: Not really. After about 8 months from the date when I first received the Divine Knowledge, the intensity of distress due to the sorcerer troubling me had increased manifold. This is one of the obstacles when we do spiritual practice as ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies etc.) try to stop us from progressing spiritually. Day to day life had become intolerable. That is when H.H. Dr. Athavale asked me to stop receiving the Divine Knowledge. Since then, the process has been intermittent.
Q: Did you feel bad on being so told?
A: No, not at all.
Q: Ms. Shilpa why do you think God has chosen you in particular to impart Divine Knowledge?
A: One because of eagerness to learn, and two because of the curiosity about Spiritual Knowledge.
Q: How great or special do you feel because of this?
A: I would say I am blessed to realise the slightest increase in ego in preliminary stages itself. I just pray to God and pay gratitude to H.H. Dr. Athavale for making me aware in time about the increase in ego.
Q: Tell us about the transformation in yourself after you began receiving the Divine Knowledge?
A: I am very much the same Shilpa, maybe a bit more humble.
Q: Apart from an increased sense of humility, have there been any other changes in yourself?
A: Yes. The concentration is better. My mind becomes thoughtless a bit faster and there is frequent realisation of personality defects. I also feel like continuously being in service unto the absolute Truth. I feel that anything and everything I do is service unto Truth.
Q: Getting Divine Knowledge is in itself a spiritual experience that could be termed ‘out of this world’. Would you like to share any other interesting experience with our readers?
A: One day before appearing for a secondary school examination I prayed, “O God, give me devotion, knowledge and detachment” instead of asking for success in examination as usual. I did not understand why I uttered these words. This prayer went on to become a habit. I later learnt that Swami Vivekananda (a Saint from India) also used to prayed to God in the very same words. Once I started attending the weekly spiritual meetings (satsangs) organized by SSRF, slowly the meaning of the prayer started seeping in.
Q: Can you tell us what specific efforts were put in to reach thus far in spiritual practice?
A: Truly, it was never as if I had set up very big goals and strived hard to attain them. Although I have been very firm on one thing in life – to practice Spirituality and only Spirituality. All I did was pray to God for success.
|Click here to read a sample of the Divine Knowledge received by the seeker.