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1. Dattaatreya - His Life
2. Dattaatreya - As Deity and His Works
3. Dattaatreya - Miscellaneous Information
4. Dattaatreya - Disciples - Yadu, Alark, Arjun

Works of Dattaatreya
Avadhoota Geetaa by Lord Dattaatreya
Avadhoot Upanishad by Lord Dattaatreya
Jeevanmukt Geetaa by Lord Dattaatreya
Tripur Rahasya by Lord Dattaatreya revealed to Parashuraam

(1) Avadhoot Upanishad - The main work attributed to Dattaatreya is the Avadhoot Upanishad, which describes the conditions of the liberated soul, one who is unfettered by dogma, habit, ritual or conventional morality. According to Dattaatreya, the liberated one need not have any particular appearance, lifestyle, religion or social role. He or she may be a naked Yogee or a prince, may appear pious or blasphemous, ascetic or hedonistic. The important thing is that, for the liberated soul, there is no "doer" of an action, and no beneficiary. One acts without thinking "this will give me pleasure" or "this is what I ought to do." This is similar to ideas found in other, apparently completely different, mystical traditions such as Sufism (c.f. Mevlana's comment that when we loose an arrow it is not us but God who shoots).

(2) Avadhoot Geetaa - Another one is the "Avadhoot Geetaa is a distillation of the sublime realization sung by Dattaatreya and transcribed by two of his disciples, Swaamee and Kaarttik. Swaamee Vivekanand (1863–1902) held it in high esteem. Originally a work of 7 chapters, a spurious and misogynistic eighth chapter may be a later attempt to append sexual morality to the Natha tradition by a conservative ascetic. Some of the ideas in this Geetaa are however common to both Shaivite, and Buddhist Tantra and Vaishnav Aagam.

(3) Tripur Rahasya - Tripur Rahasya is the dialog between Dattaatreya and Parashuraam on Moksh.

There is an Upanishad also on his name "Dattaatreya Upanishad". It is a part of Atharv Ved. He has been described in this Upanishad as being able to appear in the form of a child, madman, or demon in order to help his devotees achieve Moksh. The Dattaatreya Upanishad, which opens proclaiming Dattaatreya's identity with Vishnu, ends with the Mantra Om Namah Shivaaya, identifying Dattaa with Shiv. In the last portion of the third chapter, Maheshwar (Shiv) alone is said to pervade reality and shine in every heart of man. He alone is in front, behind, to the left, to the right, below, above, everywhere the center. Finally, Maheshwar is identified with Dattaatreya, depicting the latter as an Avataar of Shiv.

[Taken from Dattaatreya document]
There is a chronological conflict in the above list of disciples of Dattaatrteya.
Prahlaad was the son of the Daitya king Hiranyakashyap; Prahlaaad's time is therefore couple of generations before Vaivaswat Manu (3100 BC).
Aayu and Yadu were from Lunar dynasty being of the 4th and the 7th generation respectively from Vaivaswat Manu. Thus these three disciples belong to a time zone near about that of Vaivaswat Manu.
In contrast Alark, Sahastraarjun and Parashuraam stand at 36th, 37th and 39th generation from Vaivaswat Manu i.e. in the time zone 2400 BC - 2340 BC. Samvart is mentioned in Avadhoot Upanishad and Jaabaal Darshan Upanishad. There is no doubt that Kaartveerya Sahastraarjun had received boons from Dattaatreya. Based on this it was concluded that Dattaatreya was the contemporary of these disciples.
When one critically looks at the advice given to the three older "disciples" it would be seen that the advice came from some kind of Avadhoot who the Puranas have taken to be Dattaatreya. We shall however discuss this advice since that too is valuable, and had Dattaatreya given the advice it could not have been different.

Period of Dattaatreya and His Disciples
(p 24) Som and Durvaasaa were not Dattaatreya' were brothers, and Dattaatreya was not Atri's son. Although his mother's name is not known, but it is unlikely that Anasooyaa was his mother. he was not a celibate, but he was a householder.
Dattaatreya was Guru of Alark, Sahstraarjun and Parashuraam, but not of Prahlaad, Aayu and Yadu. Of these disciples Alark is the oldest (2400 BC). A person may take quite some time, some decades, to become Yogee, so it means that he must be older than Alark at least a few decades - it may be 5 decades before so he must be around 2450 BC. And this must be when Rohitaashwa of Soorya Vansh, and Tritsu and Divodaas of Kaashee of Chandra Vansh were ruling. Gopvan Atreya must also be their contemporary but no connection with Dattaatreya has been mentioned anywhere.

It seems that in later years of his life Dattaatreya must have renounced his home, after ,learning Yog etc, and became Sanyaasee and had some disciples - Sankriti, Sahastraarjun, Alark, and Parashuraam - but this information comes also from Puraan. After meeting Raam, Parashuraam's activities are not heard of. This shows that after the meeting of Parashuraam, Dattaatreya in 23rd century BC,  must have gone for Smaadhi as we do not hear any more incident about him as he is not a Chiranjeevee (there are only 7 Chiranjeevee by boon are - Bali, Parashuraam, Hanumaan, Vibheeshan, Ved Vyaas, Kripaachaarya and Ashwatthaamaa).

A Story About Dattaatreya
(p 25) A story about Dattaatreya is very famous, told under different contexts. Once attracted by Dattaatreya's effulgent, several Muni followed him to gain grace. Dattaatreya thought to free himself from them, so he dived into a lake and stayed there for many years. He thought that by this way he could save himself from those Muni. But the Muni sat on the banks of the lake waiting for his return. Dattaatreya came out of the water naked in the company of beautiful women. he made love with her, drank liquor, enjoyed singing and music, but still the Muni did not go from there. At some places this act of Dattaatreya has been regarded as the Purush playing with His Maayaa.

Dattaatreya Helped people
(p 30) Biographical descriptions of many saints state that the Deity they worshipped actually appeared as a human being to help them in their bad times, such as Tulasee Daas, Kabeer, Tukaaraam, Samarth Raamdaas, Gyaaneshwar, Naam Dev etc. Dattaatreya also helped people.

(1) Dasopant
A similar account is found in Dattaatreya Gyaanopadesh about Dasopant (pronounced as Daasopant). he was a village clerk of Bidar. He also donated grains to people, and was imprisoned and was threatened that he would have to be converted to a Muslim if he did not pay the required amount within a month. At the last moment a man named as Datta Padewar came and paid the money in full and save Dasopant to convert in a Muslim. he was none other than Dattaatreya,


Teachings of Dattaatreya
Dattaatreya’s teachings to Alark are given in some detail in Maarkandeya Puraan. These concern Yog practice and are substantially the same as what is given in the Yog Sootra by Pantanjali. This is not surprising since it has also been mentioned elsewhere that Patanjali also obtained the knowledge from Dattaatreya. The advice to Parashuraam is contained in the book Tripur Rahasya written by Rishi Sumedh or Haritaayan comparatively recently.

Tripur Rahasya
Tripur Rahasya is onr of the Taantrik compositions in which Devee worship is prescribed. This also shows the Taantrik background of Dattaatreya in its purer form. In fact it was only Gorakshnaath who removed its Left Handed Taantrik traditions - using meat, fish, wine, sex and  (5 Ma - Maans, Matsya, Mad, from the Naath Sampradaaya and brought it to the acceptable civil form of today.

Today Dattaatreya is worshipped in the form of Pauraanic Dattaatreya, not the historic Dattaatreya. His Pauraanik image is of a wandering Yogee, as a philosopher, as an Avadhoot. HIs original one-headed image had become now the three-headed image, after Sant Eknaath wrote the Aaratee in 16th century in which he has described him as the Trigunaatmak Trimoorti.

(p. 39-40) Aayu Dattaatreya called Maayaa (Shakti) in the form of a beautiful maiden and indulged in amorous activities with her. However Aayu who was a spiritually elevated person realized that this was all a drama but the woman was really Maayaa with whom Dattaatreya was playing with. Aayu embraced Dattaatreya's feet who warned and told him that he (i.e. Dattaatreya) was an impure person and Aayu should leave him immediately. When Aayu did not leave him,  Dattaatreya demanded human flesh in a skull every day. Aayu agreed. Pleased with Aayu, Datttaatreya offered him a boon. Aayu asked for a son which Dattaatreya agreed and sent him away with a fruit to be consumed by his queen Indumatee.

In due course the queen Indumatee gave birth to a son. But the demon Hundaasur, who knew of the prediction that this child would be the cause of his death. He kidnapped him coming in the form of a maidservant. He gave the child to his queen for killing but taking a liking for the child she secretly sent him to Rishi Vashishth. The child, now named Nahush and grew up with Vashishth and when he grew up killed Hundaasur thus fulfilling the prediction. Vashishth then returned Nahush to king Aayu. Thus we see that King Aayu was not a disciple in the sense of a real disciple. (This story is mentioned in Datta Mahaatmya by Shri Vaasudevanand Saraswati.)

(p 40-42) Dattaatreya Jee preached Yadu, the son of Yayaati, and the grandson of Aayu, also about his 24 Guru.

(p 42-) What Dattaatreya taught to Sahastrabaau -
Sahastrabaahu or Kaartveerya Arjun was the son of Kritveerya of Haihaya Vansh. he was King Alark's contemporary. he was a very powerful king ruling from Maahismatee Puree (MBH, Anushaasan Parv, Ch 151-156). This Puree is now known as Maaheshwar. It is a village in Khargone District of MP state on the North bank of Narmadaa River. Once Dattaatreya visited Arjun. Arjun welcomed the sage and offered his all wealth in his feet. Dattaatreya Jee got very pleased with Arjun's behavior, so he asked him to ask for three boons. Arjun asked - "(1) During war I should have 1,000 arms and the warriors shhould my those 1,000 arms, (2) During the normal life only two arms should be visible, (3) I should conquer the whole Earth on arms strength and should rule it righteously and carefully. After getting these boons from Dattaatreya Jee, Arjun asked him a fourth boon - "When I deviate from the righteous path, I who am blessed by you, should be guided by saints." Dattaatreaya Jee said - "So be it." and left. And because of these boons he was known as Sahastraarjun.

According to Maarkandeya Puraan, after Kritveerya had died, his ministers and priests got prepared to crown him as their new king, but Arjun said  - "Before being the King, I would like to be a Yogee." So Sage Garg advised him to go to Dattaattreya Jee who had helped



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/27/03
Updated on 10/04/13