He was the son of Anusuya and Maharishi Atri. Lord Dattatreya is represented with three faces, one of Lord Brahma, the second of Lord Vishnu and the third of Lord Siva with six hands. The three in 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 intimate unity of everything. God Dattatreya is regarded as one of the most ancient deities. The earliest references to him can be found as far back as in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

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Yayati was a rajarishi, an ancestor of the Yadu clan to which Sri Krishna belonged. His queen was Devayani, the daughter of Rishi Shukracharya. The only weakness the king had was desire, and desire was his undoing. Cursed by the rishi on one occasion, to become old before his time unless he could exchange his old-age with someone else, Yayati sought his eldest son Yadu and begged him to help him out of the predicament. Yadu, of all the king's sons, was interested in spiritual life.

He pondered over the situation. Seeing his father obsessed with youth and desire, Yadu realised the impermanence of both. He was filled with vairagya. However, he did not want to grow old before his time, because he thought, 'When old-age comes gradually one exhausts his desires naturally and along with them the karma.

Besides, youth is a time for spiritual, sadhana, a preparation period for the development of higher consciousness. Sad at having to disappoint his father, nevertheless Yadu knew that he had to refuse. His father subsequently disinherited him. To Yadu, who was quite disillusioned with the world already, this was a boon. He walked away from the palace and entered a forest, seeking a guru who would initiate him into the mysteries of higher reality.

During his wanderings he came across a naked ascetic, smeared with ash, radiant with bliss, Yadu felt drawn to him. Devout wishing for-these two words form the essence of an Avadhoot,' said Datta Prabhu. He is an Avadhoot. I too wish to know the akshara, the imperishable. Please teach me,' Pleased by the shraddha of Yadu, Dattatreya explained to him the significance of discipleship in a sadhak and proceeded to give him instances in life where he had learned from twenty-four situations.

Life itself is the guru to one rich in discipleship. Dattatreya explained to Yadu that discipleship is openness, receptivity, flexibility of the mind; the capacity to renounce concept alter concept, experience after experience, to reach the inner truth.

It is the capacity to see beyond forms into their essence. Discipleship is a state of consciousness that is fired with an intense longing to experience the truth as it is and not to be satisfied with its various reflections. It was with this spirit that Dattatreya responded to the entire world around him, the spirit of discipleship that learns from all of existence, with all the innocence of a child.

From the earth, Dattatreya learned the qualities of forgiveness, unselfishness and the strength to bear burdens. Very often progress on the spiritual path is hampered because a sadhak is tied to the past.

A trauma at some time in life decides one's response to similar situations all through one's lifetime. Nothing is seen with freshness and innocence. Everything is seen through the eyes of fear and suspicion because of past conditioning. This quality is not just projected onto the outside but also onto oneself. Inadequacy, lack of confidence, poor self-esteem, are in reality lack of faith or trust in ourselves.

They are a measure of one's own self-rejection. The earth, burdened by a thankless world, stands firm and proud. She is not demoralised. She does not punish or reject herself. Dharitri, one who holds, is a reflection of Dharma, the eternal one that holds all existence. With immense tenderness she holds the world in her lap, unmindful of assaults on her person.

To Dattatreya she was symbolic of shraddha, having a capacity to hold together, herself and all associated with her, with great compassion, giving of herself totally to the situation which asks of her, with an unflinching steadiness, like the physical body holding divinity within itself.

The air to Dattatreya was a symbol of aliveness, prana carried in its garments. Pervading everywhere, yet uncontaminated, carrying fragrance, but not being the fragrance, it reminded him of pure consciousness, present in all manifestation, yet not being affected by the movements, the changes within it.

It brought to him the experience of detachment, stillness in movement. The atman resides in the body but it is not the body. The sky holds the world like a garment or canopy but it is not the world.

It seems limited but in reality it is limitless. The sky was his third guru. The deeper mind is like the sky: vast and unseen, holding thoughts and feelings like clouds, seeming limited but really limitless in its possibilities. His fourth guru was water. Some simple organisms can live without air. However, none can live without water.

Over millions of years, water has been responsible for shaping the face of the earth. It nourishes the soil so that mighty forests can grow. It decides the climate. It has great stability. It cleanses, purifies, refreshes. To Dattatreya it was symbolic of the compassion of a yogi that unobtrusively flows to the world, nourishing and refreshing.

His fifth guru was fire, which destroys all that is gross. Like the inner fire of awareness that reduces everything to its essence bhasma , purifying ruthlessly whatever is poured into it, fire reminded him of freedom from the defects of avidya.

The moon seems to wax and wane, yet there is no intrinsic change in it. Likewise the moods and changes in man are qualities of body and mind, not part of the atman. From the sun, that takes water from the ocean by evaporating it and returning it as life-giving rain water, Dattatreya realised that through the sense-organs one can take in the essence of the objects of perception without being obsessed with the external form of the object.

Its light is reflected in gutters, rivers, streams, puddles, and looks different according to the contents and qualities of the water, but in itself it is the same. So to, the atman in different bodies seems to take on the qualities of the body, but in reality it is the same one everywhere. The sun brought to his mind qualities of egoless-ness and omnipresence.

From a pigeon that had little fledglings, which when caught in a net by a hunter, cried piteously, luring the mother to her death, Dattatreya realised the dangers of samskara.

Too much involvement in samskara re suits in the destruction of spirituality. It was attachment to the family that was responsible for the destruction of spirituality. It was attachment to the family that was responsible for the destruction of the bird. Our samsara too, consisting of our prejudices, our desires, our passions, that are born of us and from out family, destroy the spirituality within us.

The higher yearning is smothered by preconceived notions, rigidity of mind and intellectual clutter. The ninth guru was a python. Seeing it eat only what came to it, not setting out in search of feed, Dattatreya learned the value of surrender.

The ocean receives all rivers, all the waters of the earth, some clean, some polluted, yet it remains unaffected and retains its essential 'oceanness'. Freedom from disturbance was the lesson from the ocean. Seeing a firefly drawn to its destruction by its infatuation with the glittering flame, the yogi realised how desire can lead to destruction. The twelfth guru was the bee. Flying from flower to flower, taking honey only for its immediate need, leaving the flowers unbruised and unhurt, the idea of bhiksha was born to Dattatreya.

Not storing for the future, taking what was given voluntarily and offering goodwill in return, was the concept of bhiksha. The thirteenth guru came in the form of an elephant that hurtled down to its trap by being drawn to the wooden image of a female elephant. Dattatreya learned that when one has a great passion for the highest truth, one should not be deluded by the distractions of sensual desire.

Even a photograph, a thought of a woman, can pull one down from one-pointedness in one's search. The fourteenth guru was a honey-gatherer. The bee speeds his time making honey which the honey-gatherer enjoys. Dattatreya realised that most often people spend their lifetimes gathering possessions in the faint hope that they will give them happiness and security- Not only do these possessions not give any inner security, but the majority of people are so busy gathering possessions that they do not have time to enjoy them.

They are enjoyed by other people. What a waste of time, energy and emotional investment, felt Dattatreya. Precious time should be spent, not in acquiring but in reaching the inner self. On one occasion the yogi watched a deer. Nimble and swift of foot, it was on guard and alert. A hunter who failed to catch it realised that the animal was interested in or distracted by music.

Knowing its vulnerability, he distracted it and caught it. Any vulnerability is a weakness on the spiritual path. One loses alertness. Ekagrata or one-pointedness is lost. In no time, the sadhak who has raised himself with great effort is plunged into rajas and tamas.

One should always be aware of one's vulnerable point and be alert on the path so that one does not go astray. The fish is caught because the bait with the worm is a temptation. One should be wary of the sense-organs and desires associated with them, whether it be taste, smell, vision, audition or touch.

The yogi was alerted to this obstacle while watching the fish. The seventeenth guru was a courtesan called Pingala.


24 Gurus of Dattatreya – Gurus and subordinate Gurus

His iconography varies regionally. In western Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh , for example, he is typically shown with three heads and six hands, one head each for Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and one pair of hands holding the symbolic items associated with each member of the Trimurti : The jaapmaala and water pot of Brahma , the conch and sudarshana chakra discus of Vishnu, and the trishula trident and two headed drum of Shiva. In paintings and some large carvings, he is surrounded by four dogs and a cow, the dogs are a symbol of Duttaguru' s teaching of similitude and equality among all creatures especially animals, right from the pure and holy cow to the dog, the least and lowest of lifeforms in Hindu thought; this exegesis was put forward by a charismatic personality, the avtari purush godman of the Dattatreya lineage, Shri Ramakrishna Saraswati Kshirsagar Swamiji of Ambikapur Ahmednagar. The cow is adored and revered mainly in North India as a symbol of the Mother Earth who nourishes all living beings.


24 Gurus of Lord Dattatreya – The Guru of Environmental Education

Yayati was a rajarishi, an ancestor of the Yadu clan to which Sri Krishna belonged. His queen was Devayani, the daughter of Rishi Shukracharya. The only weakness the king had was desire, and desire was his undoing. Cursed by the rishi on one occasion, to become old before his time unless he could exchange his old-age with someone else, Yayati sought his eldest son Yadu and begged him to help him out of the predicament. Yadu, of all the king's sons, was interested in spiritual life.



Hare Krishna. Lord Dattatreya and His 24 Gurus. Lord Dattatreya was born of Rishi Atri and Anausya. Lord Dattatreya considered as guru of environmental education, gained enlightenment by his observation from surrounding, which provided him 24 gurus. These gurus explain the problems of mundane attachments, and teach the path towards the spiritual self-realization of the Supreme. The core message of Lord Dattatreya is:. Lord Dattatreya is imaged with three faces, six hands and single body.

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