1. Teaching to go beyond words
1A. Seekers should not be emotional
while taking decisions but should think at the level of bhav
Once a seeker participating in a workshop was direly in need of money. He requested some seekers attending the workshop and collected Rs. 1,000 each from them with a promise to return it at the earliest possible.
When Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale learnt of this, He told the seekers who had contributed that they had made a mistake. He said that money should be donated for a noble cause. Therefore, it is appropriate to offer money to Saints. He advised that discretion should be exercised while dealing with the material world. Thus, He taught us how to think at the level of bhav (Spiritual emotion) instead of being emotional. What Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale said came true later – the seeker did not return the money he had taken.
1B. Knowledge that transcends words
is far more important than that conveyed by words
Workshop attendees would write down every aspect of Spirituality taught by Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale. Mr. Vivek Pendse had attended most of the workshops, and hence, had plenty of aspects written in his notebooks.
Once we were to meet at Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale’s residence in Mumbai. Mr. Pendse took photocopies of these note-books with the intention of sharing them with other seekers in Mumbai. When Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale saw these pages, He remarked, “Did I teach you only this much in workshops ?” Mr. Pendse immediately realised his mistake. The thought, ‘I have imbibed what is conveyed in words, but what about the knowledge that transcends words ?’ made him feel ashamed about his narrow outlook.
1C. Do not pay too much attention to those
who oppose at the intellectual level; ignore them !
When Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale was conducting workshops in Goa, Mr. Shyam Manav of Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (ANiS) wrote an article criticising Him in a local newspaper. Seekers were very upset about this criticism. Two of us wrote articles refuting the charges and criticism. At that time, He said, “Such instances of replying and countering may go on forever. Instead of wasting time in arguing with such elements who think purely at the intellectual level, who do not make efforts to understand or perform spiritual practice, it is better to perform spiritual practice and ignore such people”.
1D. Teaching practical aspects of serving Saints
Once H.H. Bhaktaraj Maharaj (Baba) was on a visit to Goa. Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale was with Him as always. When Baba would get up in the night, Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale would also wake up. These things taught us how to be alert while performing seva (Service unto Absolute Truth) of Saints and what should be the ideal relationship between the Guru and His disciple.
Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale would tell us to make the best of efforts to meet the needs of the Guru. Once H.H. Ramanand Maharaj (Ramji Dada) came to His residence in Mumbai. At that time, Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale asked Mr. Vivek Pendse to fetch coconut water from the kitchen for Ramji Dada. When he came with the glass of coconut water, Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale asked him if he had filtered the coconut water. Mr. Pendse had not filtered it and hence, he had to go back and return with filtered coconut water. Once a Saint was to be served grapes. Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale asked us to select the good ones and remove their stalks while serving them.
1E. How to harmonise Spirituality with the material word
In Mumbai, Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale’s parents stayed with Him. He would attend to them due to their old age, giving them timely doses of medicine, serving them meals etc. He would never neglect any aspect in taking care of His parents even though He was busy with other activities.
Despite being busy in taking care of His parents, He would guide seekers too on organising workshops. Thus, He taught us how to harmonise Spirituality with the material word.
1F. Asking seekers to pay obeisance not to Him but to Baba
During Gurupournima celebrations, darshan (Vision) of Baba would be organised. During such times, Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale would stand next to Baba and introduce every seeker along with the seva he/she was performing. Seekers would pay obeisance to Baba and then to Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale. He would ask seekers to pay obeisance only to Baba and not to Him.
2. Yearning of Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale for
the spiritual progress of all seekers
When Baba would come to Goa, Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale would try to ensure that a few seekers stay with Baba. He would say, “Mostly, I am with Him. If you are with Him, you too will develop closeness with Him. If in the process He bestows His grace, you will benefit tremendously”.
This showed Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale’s yearning that seekers progress spiritually all the time. That is why, He would try to make seekers accompany Baba.
3. Making seekers participate in various festivals of Baba and Gurupournima
After making the seekers imbibe the theoretical aspects of Spirituality to a large extent during workshops, Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale appealed to them to visit Baba’s Ashram in Kandali (in Maharashtra) to participate in the Ramnavami festival. Before this, He had told us of Baba and apprised us of His high spiritual level. Thus, all seekers were very eager to have Baba’s darshan.
He prepared us for the journey to the Kandali Ashram by telling us of the transport to be taken, seva to be performed there, how to behave there etc.
He used to tell us that Baba likes those who perform seva more than those who only listen to Him sitting in front of Him.
During our visit to Kandli, all of us had Baba’s darshan and had good spiritual experiences. Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale had already explained to us the difference between seekers and devotees during one of the earlier festivals of a Saint, which we had attended along with Him. There-fore, we could perform our sevas at Kandali sincerely.
3A. The uniqueness of Baba’s bhajans, about which we had been told earlier in workshops, could be realised only after listening to Him in person
In the workshops, Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale had told us about the uniqueness of Baba’s bhajans (Devotional songs). These were realised by us after listening to Baba in person. After reaching Kandali, Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale introduced us to the devotees who were accompanying Baba while He was singing bhajans and those playing the instruments. We were also told about their unique features. We learnt how much bhav the devotees have for Baba
3B. Since seekers made mist-akes during Baba’s guidance,Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale felt very upset for his failure in moulding seekers appropriately
When Baba’s guidance was in progress, some seekers asked for drinking water. They also made 2 more mistakes.
After Baba’s guidance, Parat-par Guru (Dr.) Athavale told us about our mistakes and asked us if we could not have remained without drinking water till the guidance got over. He felt very upset for His failure in moulding seekers appropriately.
3C. Gurupournima of H.H. Bhaktaraj Maharaj in Mumbai
C1. Guiding seekers to participate in Gurupournima seva by instilling the importance of the Guru
After visiting Kandali, we realised the importance of H.H. Bhaktaraj Maharaj. Immediately after that (in 1992), Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale decided to celeb-rate the Gurupournima of Baba in Mumbai and impressed upon us its importance during a workshop. He told us the importance of sacrificing body, mind and wealth for the Gurupournima festival.
We normally visit a festival and have darshan. However, the difference in celebrating Gurupournima was that seekers would get a chance to perform seva. He taught us how to perform seva of the Guru, who is not merely an evolved embodied individual but a Principle. Therefore, He impres-sed upon us that obeisance to any Saint (even mentally, without prostrating before Him) is sufficient. However, later He called the seekers to introduce them to Baba and have His darshan.
Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale would stand next to Baba and introduce the seekers to Him. Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale had an intense yearning that all seekers get Baba’s grace.
– Mr. Vivek Pendse and Mr. Prakash Joshi (Ponda, Goa)