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Bhagwan Dattatreya

The Saandilya Upanishad declares very clearly that Bhagwan Dattatreya is the Supreme
Reality and is the cause of everything that is created. It states, "The Supreme Brahman
performed penance which was of the nature of knowledge (jnyana), and desiring to become
many, assumed the form of Dattatreya. From that form came out the three letters A, U, M;
the three mystical names Bhuh, Bhuvah and Svah; the three-lined Gayatri; the three Vedas
Rig, Yajur and Sama; the three Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara; the three castes
Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vysya; and the three fires Gaarhapatya, Ashavaneeya and


Lord Dattatreya came as the Supreme Philosopher (Avadhoota) so that the true meaning
and purpose of Sacrifice (Tyaaga) may be revealed to mankind. Atri, His father, symbolizes
penance (tapas) as described in the scriptures, and Anasooya represents freedom from
jealousy. When penance and non-jealous nature unite in a single person, the highest truth
emerges as Lord Dattatreya. As ultimate self-sacrifice, the Supreme God gave Himself as
Datta to Atri and Anasooya. Hence, "Datta" means not only "that which is given", but also as
the ideal of "giving" without desire for reward, i.e. selfless giving. The whole life of Dattatreya
shows us that this "giving" selflessly is the true renunciation/sacrifice. The significance of this
sacrifice is stated in the Dattatreya Upanishad where the Lord says, "Not by action, not by
progeny, nor even by self, but by renunciation (tyaaga) alone is immortality attained. "Real
renunciation is the giving up of "I" and mine, not the mere abandoning of duties. Living a
selfless life require giving up one's ego. That is what Lord Dattatreya describes as true
As a Yoga-Avatar, Lord Dattatreya teaches us to perform all our duties skillfully and
diligently. Yoga does not require outside aids, nor does it demand great physical effort. All
we have to do is change our outlook and transform our attitude to life. This "change" consist
of giving up the idea or feeling of "doership", "enjoyership" and the resultant anxiety (and
attachment ) for the fruits of our actions. By performing all our duties with this changed
outlook, our mind will be freed from agitation and attain the restful state called "equanimity",
or the state where there is no "mind". This is the state of Bliss that every soul ultimately
aspires to. This is the state of Datta - the ultimate Gift of God

SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE Splendorous form Lord Dattatreya

Shri Dattatreya or Datta Guru, an incarnation who came to light the lamp of wisdom among
the people. Shri Dattatreya is a splendorous form. His face radiates all wisdom and draws us
away from the lures of the world.

Though He is the Supreme Lord of this universe, yet He is a total and supreme recluse.
Though He moves from place to place, His favorite abode is the Holy Audambar tree (A type
of fig type, Ficus glomerate). He has matted hair on His head. His body is ever smeared with
holy ashes and He wears tiger-skin for His garment. A cow and four dogs are always with
Him as His constant companions. He is an 'Avadhoot', ever anchored in Spirit, but always
overflowing with compassion for all the beings and the entire creation. He is the embodiment
of total Godhead. All the aspects of Godhead are fully manifest in Him. His faces and form
are ever radiant with peace and divine charm.

The Cow, which is always with Him, represents the Mother Earth and Dharma. She is the
wish fulfilling cow 'Kamadhenu'.
The four dogs symbolise the four Vedas the external repositories of Spiritual Wisdom.
The trident indicates that He has transcended the three gunas, which constitute the illusory
Sattva-illumination, Rajas-activity and Tamas-inertia.
The 'Sudharshana chakra' , disc indicates that He is beyond the cycles of time i.e. the past,
present and future and
His holding of 'chakra' means He is the controller of time.
The conch represents the eternal sound AUM which is the manifestation of the Spirit.
It is also the life principle in us and the cosmos.
The 'bhasma' ashes indicated His 'Vairaagya' dispassion as well as His purity.
Ashes indicate the evanescent nature of all created nature of all created objects and the
ultimate state of all matter.
He always carries a begging bowl so as to teach us the lesson that we will have to share
our wealth and food with others.
The japa-mala, rosary He wears reminds us that our primary duty is chanting the sacred

name of the Lord and meditating on the feet of the Lord, and our redemption depends on
this discipline alone.

Then, of this Lord, who is playing with His Atmic power (atma Shakti), who is full of
compassion towards his devotees, whose form is of Dattatreya, Whose beautiful body is
without clothing of any kind, who has four hands resembling the petals of the lotus and
whose form is not fearful and reveals his sinlessness. This then is the partly divisible and
partly indivisible form (of the Brahman). Markandeya Purana