Biographies | Rishi
Miscellaneous Information About Dattaatreya
Dattaatreya is not merely a divine incarnation like Krishn and Raam, but, unlike them, he is held in high esteem as a visible personality - physically available for Darshan, if only we have the honesty to belive in him and devotion at his sacred feet. There are wonderful sidelights given to us of the personality Bhagavan Dattaatreya.
One of the symbolic and very significant features of his life is depicted in certain painted portraits. In such portraits he is depicted with a bag hung on his shoulder, what is this bag? The tradition is this: Dattaatreya is perhaps the most powerful of conceivable sages, almost identical with God himself. For all practical purposes we may say that he has all the powers of God, viz., creation, preservation and destruction, being an embodiment of all the three - Brahmaa, Vishnu and Shiv themselves. But, he lives as a Fakeer. The term 'Fakeer' means a beggar owning nothing, except a bag (a Jholaa, as you call it), and a stick in his hand, which is sometimes may be identified with the trident. He goes for Bhikshaa (alms), for he lives on alms only. The master of all the forces of Nature at whose command are the sun and the moon and the stars, goes begging for his Bhiksha! The spiritual meaning of this Bhikshaa or alms-begging is that he is asking us: "Give me all your sins." He does not beg for rice, wheat and Daal from us. He asks for the sins of our past lives and of our present life. He will collect the sins of all people. He can swallow and digest all the sins of all the people. That is why he goes from door to door asking for alms. He puts them in his Jholaa or bag and walks off and digests the whole thing.
The Deity Dattaatreya
He also has four dogs in front of him. These four dogs are symbolized as four Ved. He has a cow behind him. This cow is not an ordinary cow, she is Kaamdhenu cow who fulfills all wishes. So this cow grants all the wishes of those who ask for the satisfaction of desires, be they worldly or spiritual.
The single head for Dattaatreya can be explained if one sees the Taantrik traditions which prevailed in India about 1000 years ago. It was Gorakshanaath who changed and removed the Aghoree traditions and made the Naath Sampradaaya in the acceptable civil form of today. Dattaatreya must have been a very powerful sage existing before this time and over the centuries sometime he was defined to the form of Dattaatreya. The three heads have come definitely later, in the last 900 years or so.
It is to be comprehended that mere chanting of the name Anagh had procured unlimited fortune for Kaartaveerya. Therefore, the name Anagh is a very powerful Mantra. In the Vishnu Sahastra Naam, the name Anagh is the 146th name of Vishnu.
Dattaatreya is a very popular Deity in Mahaaraashtra, Karnaatak, Aandhra Pradesh and South GUjaraat. He is considered more as a wandered sage, Yogee and Guru, rather than as a Deity. It is common to hear his devotee's uttering "Gurudev Datta" - menas Hail to Datta who is a Guru. For them he is more human being rather than a Deity.
‘Present’ has three meanings. The English word present connotes a gift, this is the first meaning. The word 'present’ can be truncated into ‘pre’ and ‘sent’. Pre-sent can be understood as a thing or person that had been sent, previously. This meaning comes into play, in the context in which the deities had decided to send the Holy Trinity. Thus, pre-sent, in this context, implies the Holy Trinity, and this is the second meaning. Present also denotes the current or existing time. The latter is the extant and correct time. Past time relates to the time that has elapsed; and future time connotes time that is in the offing. Both past and future times are non-existent, and assumed periods of time, which cannot be experienced by anyone. Therefore, only the present has existence. That is why the great Mahaatmaa declare: vartamanena vartamte. They live only in the present.
While performing such salutation, the performer should maintain his backbone and head in one straight line. He should sit erect in that posture; joint his hands in such a way that the palms of his hands touch each other, and then place them upright in front of his heart. The heart has the shape of an inverted lotus. The union of the hands should be in the opposite direction, in the upright position. This connotes one lotus above the other, which is known as the dual lotus or union of lotuses. This suggests an integration of the devotee’s heart the Lord. The left palm represents the Jeevaatmaa and the right palm the Paramatma . When both these palms are united at the heart – lotus, the distinction between the Jeevatma and Paramaatmaa ceases to exist, and the all encompassing experience of the Pure Kevalatma is experience. This is the true implication of the word Namah.
Any Mantra can be utilized for
three fundamental purposes. First, it can be chanted for deriving earthly
desires such as removal of suffering or for achieving prosperity and comforts.
Secondly, it can be chanted for spiritual development and lastly, it can be
invoked without any desires or objectives. The last aim is termed as Paramaardhikam,
which means that the chanting of the Mantra can be used to integrate ourselves
with the deity of the Mantra. Among these three types, the last one is the best.
However, the first two methods when employed in an appropriate manner, contribute
to the Paramaardhikam. As such, the Rakshaa Mantra provides all these three results.
One can choose any one of these options and chant the Mantra to achieve that goal.
They will certainly attain their objective.
On Dattaa Jayantee, devotees
are advised to perform Jap of six Maalaa (Rosary) ie (6 x 108 = 648 times)
by chanting the Mantra,
His Gayatri Mantra
Dattaatreya as a Refuge
It is also given in Bhaagvat Puraan, that one day Lord Dattaatreya was walking along a street like a mendicant, very happy in his mood and lustrous in his face. His joy was such that he seemed to be bursting with happiness. But he had nothing with him except a bag and a staff. The king of that land, known as Yadu, met him on the way. The king did not know that he was Dattaatreya. He took him to be a beggar and wondered - "How is this person so happy, even though he has nothing with him! I am the emperor of this vast kingdom, but I have got so much grief on my head. What is this mystery? How it is that, being a king, I am so unhappy, and this beggar is so happy?" So he went and humbly prostrated himself before Dattaatreya and asked him, "Sir, may I know how is it that you seem to be so happy? What is the source of your happiness, though you seem to be a beggar? Who are you? May I know your whereabouts and a little of your history?" Dattaatreya did not say who he was. He merely said, "I am happy because of what I am, not because of what I have." So this was the secret of his happiness. We are happy in proportion to what we are and not in proportion to what we have. Since the king had many things, he was an empty shell inside; on the other hand, Dattaatreya had nothing to possess and call his own, and he was everything himself.
Dattaatreya and Jambhaasur
Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/27/03
Updated on 03/12/13