Table of Contents
1. Drawing devotional pictures as an expression of spiritual emotion
Spiritual emotion (bhāv) is defined as having an intense awareness of the presence of God in one’s day-to-day life. Ordinarily, we are aware of only our own existence in every moment of the day. As our identity is engrained in our subconscious mind, we experience the world from only an individualistic standpoint. However, with regular spiritual practice a new awareness takes shape in our minds. Gradually we become aware of God’s presence in every situation. When we perform every act in life with an intense awareness of God, then this awareness is known as having spiritual emotion.
This article showcases a form of spiritual emotion displayed by Mrs Uma Ravichandra, or Umaka as she is fondly known as by her co-seekers of God. Umaka is a seeker from India, and due to her spiritual practice she is constantly in a state of spiritual emotion. Even though she has no formal training in art, she expresses her spiritual emotion by drawing various devotional pictures of herself in the presence of Lord Shrīkrushṇa. While drawing these pictures, her love for Shrikrushna is so intense that these pictures become alive with the Divine consciousness (Chaitanya) they contain. Accordingly these pictures have now become a storehouse that bestows upon the viewer the Bliss (Ānand) of devotion to God.
There are various types of spiritual emotion. For example:
- Vātsalyabhāv which means the spiritual emotion of maternal love. This is the kind of love that Shrikrushna’s mother had for Him.
- Dāsyabhāv which means having the spiritual emotion of a servitor to God.
- Sakhyabhāv which means having the spiritual emotion that God is a friend.
Umaka has bālakbhāv, which means the spiritual emotion of a child. With this type of spiritual emotion a seeker has innocence, purity and love for God just as a small child would have towards his or her parents. The predominant feeling is that, “I am a small child of God. God alone is my mother, father, sibling, friend and protector.” This is the sort of child-like spiritual emotion for Shrikrushna that Umaka’s mind was engrossed in. In this state of spiritual emotion, she began to think that she was a three-year-old child and she drew a range of pictures from this child-like but spiritually rich perspective.
‘A picture speaks a thousand words’, which means what is expressed in a thousand words can be expressed through a picture. Mrs Uma Ravichandran’s pictures of balakbhav with Shrikrushna have proved this proverb to some extent. I say ‘to some extent’ because even if thousands of words are used, the balakbhav in her pictures can never be described! In Spirituality words have 2% importance, 98% importance is given to experiencing what the words say.
– His Holiness Dr Athavale (14 Sep 2012)
2. Gallery of Devotional pictures
Suggestions on how to view the picture:
- Before reading the explanation under each picture, allow your mind to dwell on the picture and let the Divine principle in the picture radiate within you and give you the personal message that God wants you to receive. Each picture is a personal invitation from God to develop an intimate and trusting relationship with Him, so our hearts can dwell in the power of surrendering oneself to God.
- The three-year-old girl in each picture symbolises Umaka’s child-like feeling of love for the Divine and is referred to as ‘little Uma’.
Since it is very difficult to attain the highest level of gopī bhāv, Lord Shrīkrushna suggests to perform Dāsyabhakti of Sanatan’s gopīs through different actions such as:
• giving them flowers to adorn their hair
• giving them water to drink when they are eating Prasād(Holy sacrament)
• keeping their footwear clean and ready for when they will leave for spreading Spirituality
• and massaging their arms gently when they are resting
Little Uma who is just a 3 year old child-seeker pretends to be angry with Shrīkrushna just so that He pays attention to her. She thinks: 'He is the Master of the universe, I know this; yet, I feel that He should play with me the whole day. Shrīkrushna reads her mind and is pacifying me. He gives me His Divine weapon the Sudarshan-chakra and His conch to play with. I grab both the objects from His hand, and holding them close to my chest, I begin to run and He chases me! I experience intense Bliss as God is playing the game of catch with me.
Bhagawān Shrīkrushna made me aware of 9 types of bhāv; and their stages; Before initiation into spiritual practice, we think ‘I am always correct’ and hence, at times we get angry and react. We never understand that we are thinking in this manner due to our strong ego. Divinity is perceived by praying; with time, it is experienced in the body too. Hence, praying with spiritual emotion is very important. After commencing spiritual practice; In this picture nine stages to spiritual emotion bhāv are depicted.1. Getting angry due to personality defects and ego 2. Being stunned after awareness of personality defects 3. Introversion 4. State of learning 5. Feeling of remorse 6. Seeking forgiveness 7. Bhāv; of gratitude 8. Experience of constant state of bhāv 9. Creation of a complete ;bhāv of surrender I drew a flower around each small picture and then connected every flower to the flower of the next stage. I realised that when we are connected with God, our worldly relationships get wiped off gradually and it is He who protects us from everything.
Upon looking at a picture of Shrīkrushna as child, it felt as if Shrīkrushna had come searching for me in the form of a child.I realised I was stuck in the state of bālakbhāv; Shrīkrushna has realised that I am not making any efforts to cross this stage and go on to the next stage. Therefore, He has come to me in the form of a child to take me to the next stage by giving me three gifts of Knowledge, Devotion and Detachment through the medium of butter which He is feeding me, the flute and the peacock feather.
In all humility, Little Uma seeks forgiveness in front of Shrīkrushna. She pleads: 'O Shrīkrushna! I seek forgiveness at Your Holy feet. I have lost count of how many mistakes I have committed so far; however, You are aware of everything. To me, You are my parent, Guru and everything. For all the mistakes I have committed, in a way it is only You who are responsible. When I was committing so many mistakes, You were never displeased with me. I am surrendering unto Your Holy feet. O God! Please accept me.
When Umaka was trying to list all her personality defects and ego, she found the process tedious and so to refresh herself she made a prayer to Shrīkrushna to take her into a state of childlike spiritual emotion. Shrīkrushna instantly responded and gave her the spiritual experience that He was transforming her into a child devotee bālgopī. Shrīkrushna beautifies little Uma, the bālgopī; with His supreme beauty. He also gives her a small earthen pot filled with butter. Little Uma is filled with the sweetness of love, expresses her eagerness to meet Shrīkrushna. After this spiritual experience, she was able to list the various aspects of her personality defects and ego with renewed vigour.
Little Uma feels that Shrīkrushna has been standing until she finished drawing a picture and so now He needs to rest. She feels a motherly love for Him and decides to massage His legs and sings a lullaby too. In doing so she actually feels like an elderly woman who is his mother.
Since I am a child of Shrīkrushna, I experience the shower of maternal love from God. However, children are inclined to emulate their dear parents. So, I feel that I should take care of the little child Krushna (Bālkrushna). So I bathe, wipe, use frankincense, dress him, feed him, play, sing him a lullaby etc. Shrīkrushna is looking with admiration and love at my actions that exhibit the spiritual emotion of a mother vātsalya bhāv. It is entirely due His grace, that I can remain in a state of child-like devotion and yet get this unique spiritual experience of motherly love.
Picture A. Shrīkrushna once pretended that His neck and shoulders were paining. Little Uma thinks, 'Since the omnipotent and unconquerable God is everything to me, I cannot watch Him suffer in pain.' With her tiny hands she began to massage His neck and shoulders. It was as if Shrīkrushna was waiting for this, and before little Uma could complete massaging, He told her that by the very touch of her hands His pain vanished all of a sudden. Seeing Him laugh, little Uma felt very happy.
Picture B. Little Uma said, 'For this tiny sēvā I performed, He gifted me with a shining waist-band. In return, I embraced Him with extreme Bliss and kissed Him on the cheek.'
When Shrīkrushna was a small boy, His mother Yashoda was astonished when He revealed to her the vision of the entire universe nestled in His mouth. Shrīkrushna narrates this Divine play of His while feeding little Uma curd and rice. His love is like that of a mother and this captivates the little Uma as her arm rests on His in a trusting comfortable manner.
Even when His Holiness Dr Athavale is fast asleep, He is fighting unrighteous forces. His mission for the welfare of the entire mankind continues at a subtle, non-materialised level.
Shrīkrushṇa understood little Uma's desire to serve her Guru and so He said with a smile, our Guru has taken up the entire responsibility of my mission; this has freed me. Come on, let us both perform the sēvā of the Guru. So due to bhāv God Himself serves the one who serves God.
When I was experiencing physical and mental distress, I drew the picture shown here. While drawing it, I became calm and peaceful.
O Gurudev! You alone are my mother, father and brother!
O God! You alone are my Master and my Krushna!
O God! Take me close to Your Holy feet swiftly!
In the month of October, the Navarātrī festival is celebrated in India and Halloween in various places around the world. Shrīkrushna shows little Uma the effect of both the festivals and explains how Navarātrī when celebrated properly attracts Divine consciousness. On the other hand Halloween is a festival that is devoid of any Divinity and is only infused with negativity and attracts negative energies. Hence it is important to be mindful not to celebrate festivals which are Raja-Tama predominant.
This picture was drawn when Umaka visited her daughter’s house in USA. Feeling out of place in a new country God, gives Umaka a realisation which she has depicted in this picture.
Shrīkrushna carries little Uma on His shoulders and is walking through fields. On one side the field has pumpkins and on the other it has sunflowers. From this Umaka realised the bountiful nature of mother Earth who provides for all life abundantly. However in today’s world we often misuse this bounty for example taking the pumpkins and making them into grotesque faces for Halloween.
developed countries especially, people are steeped in luxuries and materialism which is referred to as Bhogabhūmi People mostly only think of material comforts and this becomes the whole purpose of their life. However in contrast Yogabhūmi is a land where seekers live. In this type of environment even though everything is provided seekers use the resources with restraint. Here everything is used in a manner so as to grow spiritually.
Like a good father, Shrīkrushna is teaching me every virtuous conduct in day-to-day life beginning with a Sanskrit prayer (shlok) in the morning which enables us to get a vision of God while cupping ones hands.
The unique concept is that the Creator of the universe is in our hands and He gives us a Vision whenever we want and makes us aware of His infinite grace. Through this vision in our cupped hands every morning, God provides the energy to perform the mission of establishing Righteousness (Dharma). When we cup our hands, it takes the shape of a lotus and our fingers become the petals of the lotus. This lotus is offered at the Holy feet of God.
Once seeker had a spiritual experience in the form of a vision. In the vision Shrīkrushna was the boatman Who was ferrying seekers across the horrifying black waters symbolising the adverse times to come. This picture is inspired by that spiritual experience.
‘O Shrīkrushna! Teach me how to inculcate these qualities:
1. the spiritual emotion (bhāv) of motherly love of Yashoda (mother of Shrīkrushna)
2. the spiritual love (prīti) of Rādhā (a devotee of Shrīkrushna)
3. the spiritual emotion of offering oneself unto Shrīkrushna of Mira (a devotee of Shrīkrushna)
4. the spiritual emotion of intense prayer of Draupadi (devotee of Shrīkrushna)
5. and also guide me in the battle against unrighteousness as You guided the archer Arjun '(Arjun is also a devotee of Shrīkrushna who waged battle against unrighteousness)'
Little Uma says: 'Since I am too young to worship You ritualistically, I decided to worship God in my mind.
Little Uma is dancing with her Lord, oblivious of the people nearby and the surrounding circumstances and even her own body. When the inner mind is lost in dancing with the Lord then the circumstances and situations of the outer world fade away.
At one level little Uma is in Gokul, where Shrīkrushna spent His childhood, and is playing with Him in the River Yamuna near the Govardhan Mountain. But at a subtle level God is pleased with the seeker who dives into the ocean of devotion with the pure mind of child-like devotion. Shrīkrushna sprinkles the Divine consciousness enriched water of grace on her and then shares her joy in receiving this grace. If we bathe in the River of Devotion with pure love for God then all our subtle sheaths get purified, our body-awareness is eliminated and we attain the state of a child. For that embodied soul, He manifests in the form of Divine consciousness
I was nervous that a Saint was going to interview me. But due to Shrikrushna’s guiding presence, the experience was joyous and spiritually rich.
Little Uma says: 'Since I am too young to worship You ritualistically, I decided to worship God in my mind.
We are ignorant children. We know nothing. Yet, Shrīkrushna gets something done through us and later, like a proud father, He says, you have done a fine job! The child is in her natural state sitting at the computer with her legs dangling in a carefree manner. Her focus is on Shrikrushna and she has hardly any body awareness. This is a sign of bālakbhāv.
Umaka said: 'When having the spiritual emotion (bhāv) that I am a 3-year-old child and am relaxed since Shrīkrushna cares for me, I could actually experience it.'Swinging indicates being completely at ease and relaxed, free of any worries. While swinging with Shrīkrushna, the seeker depicting child-like devotion (bālakbhāv) obtains the same lightness that a butterfly has.
Shrīkrushna said, 'Enough of playing now. Start learning something new'. Thereafter, He took me to the school of personality defect removal process and said, ‘Listen to whatever is being told and act accordingly and win the Saint's appreciation'.
The above picture has analysed how we should attain Shrīkrushna through the Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga). Through this picture, Shrīkrushna has given a message that the grace of Saints can be attained by eliminating personality defects and destroying ego, and Shrīkrushna can be attained through Karmayoga
Little Uma is a picture of trust, knowing she is fully protected when she falls asleep in God's arms.
Little Uma loves playing hide-and-seek with Shrīkrushna. She hides under the Guru's table and requests Him not to reveal her hiding place to Shrīkrushna. Ofcourse, Shrīkrushna spots her easily. However, Uma realises, 'Since Shrīkrushna has merged with the Guru, I cannot find Him!’ With the kindness of the Guru, the sāttvik envelop of Māyā is removed and the seeker gets a vision of God. However, when the Guru lifts the cover of another type of Māyā that is Guru Māyā, the seeker gets the spiritual experience that ‘the Guru Himself is God’. When the seeker gets this spiritual experience, the game of hide-and-seek between the jīva and Shiv ends in the true sense, and he gets the complete vision of God.
This picture that depicts beautifully the gratitude which Her Holiness Yoya Vallee has. It shows Her experiencing Shrīkrushna’s love. It also shows Mr Cyriaque Vallee’s bhāv of humility. A few months later His Holiness Cyriaque Vallee too was declared a Saint.
Ms Anastasia Vallee, their 7 year old daugher, and I were wonder struck whilst watching this unique scene unfold before us. Normally, Her Holiness Yoya draws pictures of all seekers based on subtle-knowledge; but today at this important event, Shrīkrushna inspired me to draw a picture of Her Holiness Yoya. It is His Holiness Dr Athavale Himself who moulds seekers into Saints. It is entirely He who has expressed beautifully the bhāv of gratitude in Her Holiness Yoya and the bhāv of humility in His Holiness Cyriaque Vallee. - Mrs Uma Ravichandran
A tiny embodied soul has taken birth to help establish 'The Divine Era' and Shrīkrushna is welcoming the tiny baby into the world. The newborn baby is a picture of 100% surrender and so God is holding the infant close to His chest and is looking deeply at him and blessing him so that He can lead him to his final destination of Final Liberation (Moksha). Little Uma too is very happy and is tugging on Shrīkrushna and insisting that He should let her hold the baby.
Little Uma embraces Shrīkrushna tightly in gratitude for receiving Divine Particles. Gratitude is more important than spiritual emotion (bhāv) unto God; because bhāv unto God may contain ego; however, in gratitude unto God, there is bhāv but in addition ones ego is less.
His Holiness Dr Athavale has said, 'Until the spiritual level of 70% is attained, we should hold God’s hand and never leave it. After attaining the spiritual level of 70%, it is God Himself who holds our hand eternally. Little Uma is inspired by these words, but finds that God’s hands reach His knees and standing next to Him she is just too small to hold His hands properly. Thus she decides to hold His holy feet tightly as that is all she can reach!
She has resolved not to leave His holy feet ever. Seeing her in this state, Shrīkrushna seems amused and as if He is thinking ‘Now, how do I deal with this little girl?’
3. Important message behind displaying these devotional pictures
Devotion unto God is not complete unless our minds are captivated and intoxicated by His Divine sweetness. One perceives that each picture is a delicate flower of spiritual emotion offered at the Holy feet of Shrikrushna. As a result some people who view these spiritually elevating pictures may get drenched with devotion for Shrikrushna and be inspired to surrender at His Holy feet. Such pictures have the power to influence the intellectual aspect of society and change its manner of decision-making and thinking. Inspiring our readers to begin or continue with their spiritual practice is the objective behind publishing these pictures on this website.