Monday, September 24, 2012



Dattaatreya Jayanti (Birthday of Lord Dattaatreya) falls on the full moon day of the month of Margasheersha. It is celebrated every year on a grand scale with great reverence by not only his followers but also others.

The Dattaatreya concept appears to be an attempt at harmonizing the three concepts of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He was a teacher of Non-Aryan people. He was the originator of certain magical rites and the creator of the Soma plant. Association with people of low birth and objects of pleasure has made him ritually impure. But learning and enlightenment have made him so pure that nothing can stain him. The Truth Principle is Datta-Tatwa, the causeless cause. Datta Stotram by Narada says: “Salutation to Lord Dattaatreya, who is neither short, nor long, neither subtle nor gross, and who is without any attributes and by whom alone all the five elements are illumined”.

Dattaatreya is called Sri Guru Datta, the Sad Guru. Saint Tukaaram, Gyaaneshvar and other saints of Maharashtra say that there is nothing in the world that can be used as comparison for expressing the glory of Sadguru. Vasudevaananda Saraswati has written a book in Marathi language called “Datta Mahaatmya” a unique combination of philosophy and mythology (Puraana). He is the Chief Controller of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, creator, preserver and destroyer. He is beyond the three departmental heads through which he is functioning in us. Avadhuta Geeta states that Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (representing Satva, Rajas and Tamas) are in the three mantras of Om—A, U and M and Dattaatreya is beyond the three. Datta--Treya means “Without Three”.

Dattaatreya is regarded as minor incarnation (amsaavataara) of Vishnu. He is the central figure in several traditions like Datta Sampradaaya, Naatha Siddhi Sampradaaya and Mahaanubhaava Pantha. His human appearance is mentioned in several Puraanas—Bhaagavata; Maarkandeya Puraana; Brahmaanda Puraana; Matsya Puraana; Vaayu Puraana; and also, Mahaabhaarata and Harivamsa. According to the Puraanas, Vishnu appeared on earth as Dattaatreya to restore “Dharma” and “Jnaana” amidst man-kind—“Vishnoh praadurbhaavo mahaatmanah Dattatreya
iti khyaatah kshamayaa parayaa yutah”.

He is celebrated as a great sage proficient in yoga and magic. He is regarded as one of the great sages (Saptarishis) in the Svaaroechisha Manvantara. Bhaagavata counts him as one of the twenty-two incarnations of Vishnu. He is familiar to his followers as “Sri Guru”. He is believed to live in the audumbara tree.

In iconic representations he is shown as Vishnu seated in a lotus posture with two normal hands locked in contemplation. He has braided strands of hair coiled up as a crown symbolic of a rishi. He wears on one ear serpentine ear-ring Sarpa kundala characteristic of Shiva; and on the other ear crocodile ear-ring, Makara kundala characteristic of Vishnu. He is six armed and in his four upper arms carries Trident and Damaroo (Shiva’s emblems) and, Conch and Discus (Vishnu’s emblems) and in the lower two hands water-jug and rosary beads, both emblem of Brahma. Alternately, he is represented as a deity with three heads of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and four hands surrounded by four dogs symbolizing the four Vedas, and a Bull which is Shiva’s vehicle that represents Dharma.

The legends in the Puraanas, makes him the son of Sage Atri and his wife Anasooya, one of the paragons of chastity in Hindu Mythology. Atri Maharshi was a great sage and one of seven foremost seers and sages. Anasooya was well established in the Pativrataa Dharma, the main element of which are, devotion to husband and regard him as God himself. His name also suggests that his physical father is Atri (Datta+Aatreya).

Atri and Anasooya did not have any children. Anasooya did severe austerities for long time in order to beget sons equal in virtue to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the Hindu Trinities. The three consorts of the Trinities requested their husbands to put Anasooya to test for the staunch Pativrataa Dharma she was practicing. As advised by their wives they went to Anasooya in the guise of mendicants and asked for alms to be served pure by her without putting on any clothes. They were also keen to fulfill her desire to have a child. They took an opportunity to appear before her when her husband was away in the garb of mendicants. Anasooya was in a dilemma; she did not want to refuse the mendicants alms in the way they desired and at the same time did not want to bring blasphemy to her Pativrataa Dharma by being naked before them. She therefore meditated on the form of her husband who was away to perform his daily rituals, took refuge at his feet, and sprinkled a few drops of water for washing the feet. She then took this sanctified water and sprinkled on the mendicants. Immediately the Trimurtis were turned into three babies on account of the glory of her chastity. At the same time, milk started flowing in her breasts. She fed the babies and cradled them, as if they were her own. She was eagerly awaiting the arrival of her husband.

Anasooya narrated all that happened to her husband on his arrival and placed the three children at his feet and worshipped him. Atri, with his divine power knew all that happened even before. He embraced all the three kids. They became one child, with two feet, one trunk, three heads and six hands. Atri Rishi blessed his wife and informed her that Trinities themselves had assumed the form of babies to grant her the wish.

Meanwhile, Narada went to the three consorts of Trinities and informed them that there was no chance of getting back their husbands and, only hope was to plead to sage Atri for their deliverance. Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati assumed the form of normal women and appeared before Atri and asked for the return of their husbands to them by way of alms (Patibhiksha). Atri, knowing who they were, duly honored them and prayed to them that their wish for a child should be fulfilled. Then the Trinities appeared in their true form before Atri and said, “This child lying before you will imbibe all our virtues and powers and equal to us and will be a great sage protecting Dharma and Jnaana as per the wishes of Anasooya”. Granting their wishes thus the Trinities disappeared along with their consorts, leaving the miraculous child behind.

Another account narrates that Atri was childless, and did penance for obtaining children, when three Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva appeared before him, pleased with his penance. He begged them to become his sons; accordingly Brahma in one of his aspects was born as Chandra; Vishnu likewise as Dutta and Shiva as the sage Doorvaasa. Dutta became an ascetic and performed austerities for great length of time on the banks of the river Gomati. He obtained enlightenment (Satya-Jnaana) and began to teach others. One of his great disciples was the great king Kaarta Veerya.

The child Dattaatreya soon attained manhood. As he had the sparks (amsas) of all three Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, he was a man of great wisdom and virtues and all the Rishis and ascetics worshipped him as their Guru. He was gentle, peaceful, kind and amiable. He was an Avadutha, a saint who always moved naked in the forests. He preached the Truth of Vedanta. Dattaatreya taught his Avadhuta Geeta even to Lord Subhramanya. This is a wonderful book which contains the truths and secrets of Vedanta and the experience of Self-realization.

The portion of Bhagavata known as the Uddhava Geeta, includes the following meaningful story which was told to Uddhava by Lord Krishna in the course of his teachings to him before leaving this world, and after completing his mission on earth.

Once, Dattaatreya while roaming happily in the forest met King Yadu. King Yadu was curious to know the secret behind his happiness and the name of his Guru. Dattatreya smilingly said: “The Self alone is my Guru. Yet, I have learnt wisdom from twenty-four other individuals and objects. So, they are also my Gurus too”. He then mentioned the names of his twenty-four Gurus to the inquiring and inquisitive king and spoke of the wisdom he had learnt from each one of them.

The twenty-four Gurus are: the earth; water; fire; moon; sun; pigeon; python; sea; moth; elephant; bee; honey-gatherer; deer; fish; the dancing girl Pingala; osprey, the fishing eagle; the child; the maiden; arrow-marker; snake; spider; and, the insect known as Bhramara-keeta. He asked the king to listen to him for the lesson he learnt from each of these teachers:

“From the Earth, I have learnt to be patient and tolerant, and to do well to others. A wise man should never lose his balance even when he is ill-treated by others. He should be like a tree, which always serves others, no matter how it is treated by the animals and human beings. A man’s life should be to this end”.

“The Air, although it carries good and bad odors is never affected by them. Its essential nature is always pure. Similarly, even though moving in the world of good and bad, a man should not be affected by them, and should know how to move with them at the same time”.

“The Aatman is like the Ether (Aakaasa), space, present in the living and non-living things. It is ever pure, ever free. Meditating on this Aatman should a man live, then even while in this body he realizes his unity with the Lord! As the ether remains untouched by clouds driven by the wind, so too should one be, untouched by the constant changes in the world”.

“Water is always cool, comforting, sweet and pure. So too, is a sage. Contact with holy man always purifies a person who seeks his company.

“Sage is like the Fire, which is not contaminated by good or bad thrown into it. Fire reduces to ashes even the filthiest thing thrown into it, yet it remains pure. So too is a man of God, who destroys the impurities of others, but he himself ever remains pure. The Lord assumes many forms in the universe, just as fire assumes the shape of the burning objects. Just as the flames in the fire rise and fall, so too birth and death are but the movements of the body. From Fire I learnt to glow with the splendor of Self –knowledge and austerity”.

“With the revolving of time, one sees changes in the Moon (crescent, half or full moon), but actually the moon itself remains the same. Similarly, birth and death belong to the body, but the Aatman remains the same always, under all conditions. It is only the limiting adjuncts cast shadows over it”.

“The Sun, when reflected in many buckets of water, appears as many Suns, but is actually one. So too, the Aatman when reflected in many individuals, appears as many, but is actually one. Aaatman appears different because of the bodies caused by the reflection through the mind”.

“Once there lived a Pigeon in a tree with its mate, and its young ones. One day the two pigeons had gone out in search of food. A hunter came and trapped the baby pigeons. When the parents came back and saw what had happened, the mother was so grief-stricken, that she jumped into the trap. The father was unable to bear the separation, so he too jumped into the trap. And thus the entire family was killed. Similarly, a man comes to grief when he is over-attached to his family and possessions. He loses his reason and self-control. Born as human being, one should strive to reach Brahman, as all our attachments to the world of senses drag us down. Attachment is the root cause of earthly bondage”.

“A Python is content with whatever food comes its way. So too, a wise man is happy with the food he gets, whether it is tasty or badly cooked. He does not struggle to keep his body well fed, because his mind is constantly engaged in the contemplation of the Lord. One should be content with whatever one gets to eat”.

“When the Ocean is quiet, it is calm and placid, even though many rivers flow into it. So too is wise man, ever tranquil in his knowledge. Just as the ocean never overflows its boundaries, so too is the man of enlightenment never transgresses his own tranquility. One should remain unmoved among all the various sorts of temptations, difficulties and troubles’’.

“Moth gets burnt by flame. He who does not have sufficient self-control, and is easily attracted by the sense-objects of pleasure, ultimately gets destroyed by them, due to his over-indulgence, like the moth. One should control the sense of sight and fix the mind on Self”.

“Like a Male Elephant is caught in a trap blinded by lust by the touch of the she-elephant, so too a man with lust is caught. Do not look at any with lustful eyes”.

“The Bee gathers honey from all flowers. A wise man learns from all sages and scriptures, and sees only the good in them”.

“The Honey-Gatherer steals honey from the bee-hive. But the bees neither enjoy the honey themselves nor do they let another do so. Be not greedy and miserly like the honey bees”.

“A Deer is attracted by sweet sounds and so easily caught in a snare. A man should take warning from this and not be drawn by sounds which sound sweet”.

“A Fish, because it is greedy is caught by the bait on the hook. He who has no control over his sense of taste meets with similar end. The organ of taste is the most difficult to control. Once it is controlled, it is easy to control all other organs”.

“Once upon a time there lived a dancing girl named Pingala. One evening, as usual, she stood at the door, hoping that she would catch some rich man who would reward her with untold wealth for her services. Soon, it was night-fall and yet no one came. Suddenly she realized her folly. She said to herself, “How foolish I have been! I have waited for favors of mere men, when I could have the eternal favor of God. Forgetting the immense wealth of His love, I have sought the wealth of others. The Lord is the friend of all. He has shown me His grace by making me realize this. Truly, I have been foolish, but no more will I be!” Pingala soon gave up all her worldly pleasures and composed her mind in meditation upon the Lord. Hope for worldly enjoyments only brings misery. When this hope is renounced, one gains the highest bliss”.

“Once, an Osprey (raven) was carrying a fish in its beak. It was pursued and attacked by a number of stronger birds, who tormented it. The moment it dropped the fish, they stopped troubling it. Similarly, when a man is attached to an object, it brings him misery. But the moment he leaves it, he enjoys peace and calm”.

“I am like a child, carefree and happy, because I have no attachments. Praise and blame are alike to me. My only play-mate is Lord. The difference is, the child is happy through ignorance. The wise man is happy with the knowledge which has taken him beyond the gunas (satva, rajas and tamas). One learns the virtue of cheerfulness from the child”.

“Í once learnt a lesson from a Maiden. It so happened that a young man and his party came to see her hand in marriage. Before the food could be prepared the rice had to be husked. But the girl did not want the party to know that she had to do this task herself. But she husked the rice, her bracelets made plenty of noise. She felt sure that they would come to know what she was doing. So she removed all her bracelets, leaving two on each arm. But even these made a tinkling sound. So she removed two more bracelets leaving only one on each arm. From then on, her work was smooth and noiseless. From this maiden I have learnt there is always a lot of noise and quarrel where many people live together. Even where there are two people, there is small talk and gossip. Therefore, it is best to be solitary and alone. One should then control the scattered thoughts of the mind and fix it in meditation upon the Lord. The ascetic should remain alone in solitude”.

“The attention should be fixed upon the Lord with as great a concentration as the Arrow-marker, who is not conscious of anything else other than his mark when he is fashioning an arrow. The quality of intense concentration should be learnt from the arrow-marker”.

“A snake enters and lives in a hole which has been made by others. It is not particular about where it sleeps. A sage seeks out caves. What home can he be attached to? He is silent and modest and only seeks words which are beneficial to others”.

“Just as the Spider spins out the thread from its own mouth, weaves into a web, plays with it and then withdraws it into itself, so too, the Lord, brings out the world from Himself, plays with it and then withdraws it into Himself. In essence His nature is ever Blissful, Unchangeable and full of Knowledge. The spider gets entangled in the web of its own making. Even so man makes a web of his own ideas and gets entangled in it”.

“The larva (keeta) by constantly thinking of the bhramara, becomes the bhramara. Similarly a man becomes that which he constantly thinks about”.

“All this I have learnt from my twenty-four teachers. And my own Body has taught me that it is the most impermanent thing in the world. It is subject to birth and death. Therefore, I have learnt that I (Self) am not the body and that, and I am only the dweller in the body; I am separate from it. Man pampers the body, acquires wealth and enjoyments for its sake, but it finally withers and dies away, leaving everything behind”.

“Of all God’s creatures, man alone has the intellect to realize his oneness with God. He alone is a rare and privileged incarnation. Therefore, instead of wasting time, in pursuit of worldly enjoyment he must employ his time in seeking God. A wise man should therefore abandon all worldly thoughts and think of Brahman only”.

“Truth can be learnt from many teachers—for Truth is one, but sages call it by different names (Ekam sat vipraaha bahudhaa vadanti)”.

The king was highly impressed by listening to these enlightening words of Lord Dattaatreya. He abandoned the world and practiced constant meditation on the Self. Dattaatreya was absolutely free from intolerance or prejudice of any kind. He learnt wisdom from whatever source it came. All seekers after wisdom should follow the example of Dattaatreya.

“Dattaatreyam mahaatmaanam varadam bhaktavatsalam
Prapannaarti haram vande smartrgaamee sanoevatu
Saranaagata deenaarta paritraana paraayanam
Naaraayanam vibhum vande smartrgaamee sanoevatu” (from Dattastava)

This lecture has been prepared for the Vedanta Class at Sri Ganesha Temple, Nashville, TN, by N.R. Srinivasan by suitably extracting, abridging and editing from the following:

1. Prof S.K. Ramachandra Rao, Vishnukosha, Kalpatharu Research Academy, Sankarmutt, Bangalore 560004.

2. Swami Harshananda, Hindu Gods and Goddesses, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai 600004

3. Swami Sivananda, Hindu Feasts and Festivals, The Divine Life Society, Sivananda Nagar, India.

4. Chinmaya and Bharati, Bala Bhagavatam, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai 400072.

5. Swami Nityanand, Symbolism of Hinduism, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai 400072.

Lord Dattatreya: Three Face Teacher of the World
Posted by Art of Living | Oct 05, 2015 | IndiaDivine.Org
Dattatreya is a saint well known in Puranas. He was the son of Anasuya and Maharshi Atri. The name ‘Dattaterya’ can be divided into two words- ‘Datta’ and ‘Atreya’, where the former means given(by Vishnu) and the latter refers to Sage Atri, His father. He is considered to be the incarnation of the Trinity- Brahma, Vishnu and Siva – a Trimurti Avatar.
There are many stories related to the birth of Dattatreya. Dattatreya is said to be born in Mahur, Maharashtra. One story says that the Goddesses Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvati wanted to test the chastity of Anasuya, who was reputed to be the epitome of chastity. So, they sent their husbands Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, who asked Anasuya to serve them food in her nude form.
Anasuya made the Trinity take the forms of small babies and then fed them with no clothes on her body. It is said that Maharshi Atri, seeing this, invoked the spiritual powers and transformed the three babies into a three-headed baby, who was named Dattatreya.
Another story says that Dattatyreya was born of triplets as a result of immaculate conception. Later on, they were born as one baby to Atri and Anasuya.
Lord Dattatreya is represented as having three faces, one of Lord Brahma, the second of Lord Vishnu and the third of Lord Siva. He has six hands. The three right hands hold a trident, a rosary and a lotus flower whereas the three left hands have s discuss, a conch and a water pot. The three heads from the same trunk signify the powers of creation, preservation and destruction. It signifies the intimate unity of everything.
The four dogs in the Dattatreya iconography represent the four Vedas. The cow that is seen in the picture is Mother Earth, who has taken refuge in Dattaterya. Mother Earth is supposed to be under His protection. Various sects of believers worship Dattatreya differently. In the Nath tradition, Dattatreya is recognized as the incarnation of Siva and as the Aadi Guru of the Adinath Sampradaya of the Naths. He has also been adopted by the Vaishnavaites and worshipped by them.
The Philosophy propounded by Lord Dattatreya is found in the ‘Avadhuta Gita’ and the ‘Jeevanmukta Gita’. Avadhuta Gita is a Vedantic text expounding non-dualism. Jeevanmukta Gita gives the characteristics of a liberated soul in 23 verses. Dattatreya is also the teacher who reveals of the secret of life to sage Parasurama in ‘Tripura Rahasya’, an ancient treatise on Vedanta. Lord Dattatreya has been mentioned in several Upanishads too.

Dattatreya, in the eleventh book of Srimad Bhagavatha, tells during his conversation with King Yadu, that he is a student of the Earth, ocean, fire, air, space, sun, moon, honey bees, fish, vultures etc.
The Earth, he says, has taught him the lesson of immense patience, the ocean has taught him dignity and fixity, fire has taught him purity, air has taught him freedom and the space has taught that a person owns everything, and yet nothing. Similarly, he lists his 24 Gurus and considers himself a simple student of the whole creation.
Since ancient times Dattatreya is considered to be the presiding deity for the path of yoga. The seekers of Truth are initiated by the grace of Dattatreya who remains invisible and hidden.

Dattatreya Stotram
Posted by P.R. Ramachander | Feb 17, 2012 | IndiaDivine.Org 
Hindus worship Dattatreya a god in the form of a combination of the great trinity consisting of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He took this form due to Anasuya, the wife of sage Athri. One story tells that Narada poisoned the minds of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvathy and told them that Anasuya is much greater than them. Incensed by this they sent their lords to Anasuya, who went and requested her to give them alms without wearing any cloths, She made them into babies and combined them into one. This God was Dattatreya. Another story tells of the trinity being forced to approach Anasuya to save the world from the curse of Nalayani. She did this but asked them to become her babies. These babies were Dattatreya (Vishnu), Durvasa (Shiva) and Chandra (Brahma). Once in a hurry when all these babies were crying together, she took them together and they became one. There is a small sect of Hindus called data-panthis in Karnalaka and Maharashtra who worship only Lord Dattatreya. He is picturised as doing meditation along with four Vedas in the form dogs following him.

jatadharam pandurangam
soolahastham krupanidhim
sarvaroga haram devam
dattatreyamaham bhaje
My salutations to Dattatreya ,
Who is with matted hair ,
Who is Lord Vishnu,
Who holds soola in his hand,
Who is store house of mercy,
And who is the panacea for all illness.

jagat utapathi karthre cha
sthithi samhara hethave
bhava pasa vimukthaya
dattatreya namosthuthe
My salutations to Dattatreya,
Who created all the worlds,
Who looks after the worlds,
Who destroys the worlds,
And who grants redemption,
From the bonds of sorrow of domestic life.

jara janma vinasaya
deha shuddhi karaya cha
digambara daya moorthe
dattatreya namosthuthe
My salutations to Dattatreya,
Who destroys sorrow of birth and old age,
Who cleans our body and soul,
Who wears the directions as cloths ,
And who is the lord of mercy.

Karpoora kanthi dehaya
brhma moorthy daraya cha
veda sasthra parignaya
dattatreya namosthuthe
My salutations to Dattatreya,
Who has a colour of burning camphor,
Who takes up the role of the creator,
And who is master of the holy Vedas.

hruswa deergha krutha sthula
nama gothra vivarjitha
pancha boothaika deepthaya
dattatreya namosthuthe
My salutations to Dattatreya,
Who is much beyond, thin , thick, short and tall,
Who cannot be limited by name or caste,
And who shines in the five spirits of the world.

yagna bhokthre cha yagnaya
yagna roopa daraya cha
yagna priyaya sidhaya
dattatreya namosthuthe
My salutations to Dattatreya,
Who is the result of fire sacrifices.
Who is fire sacrifice himself.
Who takes the form of the fire sacrifice,
And who is the saint who likes fire sacrifices.

adhou brhama madhye vishnur
anthe deva sada shiva
moorthy thraya swaroopaya

dattatreya namosthuthe
My salutations to Dattatreya,
Who in the beginning is the creator,
Who in the middle is Vishnu who takes care,
Who in the end is Shiva the destroyer,
And who is the lord who represents the trinity.

bhogaalayaya bhogaaya
yoga yoyaya dharine
jithendriya jithagnaya
dattatreya namosthuthe
My salutations to Dattatreya,
Who is the place where pleasure resides,
Who is the pleasures himself,
Who is the great wearer of Yoga,
Who has perfect control of his senses,
And who is greater than any scholar.

brhma jnana mayee mudhra
vasthre cha akasa bhoothale
prgnana gana bhodaya
dattatreya namosthuthe
My salutations to Dattatreya,
Whose stamp is the knowledge of ultimate,
Who wears the sky and earth as his cloths,
And who is the three states of wakefulness,
Sleep and dream.

Sathya roopa sadachara
sathya dharma parayana
sathyasraya parokshaya
dattatreya namosthuthe
My salutations to Dattatreya,
Who is truth personified,
Whose conduct is perfect,
Who follows truth as his dharma ,
Who depends wholly on truth,
And who is not in visible form.

soola hastha gada pane
vana mala sukundara
yagna soothra dara brahman
dattatreya namosthuthe
My salutations to Dattatreya,
Who has in his hands he spear and the mace,
Who wears garland of scented flowers of the wild,
And who is the prime executor of fire sacrifices.

datha vidhyadya lakshmeesa
datha swathma swaroopine
guna nirguna roopaya

dattatreya namosthuthe
My salutations to Dattatreya,
Who is the great knowledge,
Who is the lord of Lakshmi,
Who has the form of the soul of Datta,
And who has the form with and without properties.


sathru nasa karam sthothram
jnana vijnana dhayakam
sarva papam samam yathi
dattatreya namosthuthe
My salutations to Dattatreya,
Which would destroy my enemies,
Which would give me knowledge of religion and science,
And which would destroy all my sins.