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

Miscellaneous Information About Dattaatreya
The name of Dattaatreya, the great sage, is a by-word in all religious circles in India. In certain parts of Gujaraat and in Mahaaraashtra, the worship of Dattaatreya is very common. It is believed by his followers that he is still alive - even today. He is not merely a dead-and-gone saint and sage of ancient and pre-historic times. They believe that he is physically living in the holy places of the western part of India such as Gangaapur in Mahaaraashtra. There is a famous hill in Sauraashtra, Mount Giranaar, which is dedicated to the adoration and worship of 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
Dattaatreya is one of the oldest Deities. His first reference is made in epics like Mahaabhaarat and Raamaayan. Usually he is depicted with three heads - Brahmaa, Vishnu and Mahesh; past, present and future; and the three states of consciousness - waking, dreaming and dreamless sleep.  He has six arms. His one hand holds a drum, one holds a wheel or Chakra, one holds a conch shell or Shankh, one holds a rosary or Jap Maalaa and one holds a water vessel or Kamandal. The trident, drum, Chakra, conch shell, Maalaa, and Kamandal all have esoteric meaning. The trident is used for killing the ego. The drum is used to awaken people who are always sleeping in a state of ignorance. That is why he is always beating the drum. He is saying, "You must come. You must come with me." The conch shell represents the Omkaar which is known as the first sound or word in Hindu philosophy. Omkaar is the first sound or beat of the Hindu Scriptures, Ved and Puraan. All the great sages use the Omkaar, Akaar (Sustainer), Ukaar (Protector) and Makaar (Destroyer) when mixed together make one sound the Omkaar. This Omkaar sound is the sound from the conch shell.

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.
Om Aim Hreem Shreem Shiv Raam Anagh Daattaaya Namah

On Dattaa Jayantee, devotees are advised to perform Jap of six Maalaa (Rosary) ie (6 x 108 = 648 times) by chanting the Mantra,
"Om Shri Gurudev Dattaa".
The worship of Lord Dattaa resolves the problems and prevents the bad effect of the negative energy due to the unsatisfied souls of ancestors.

His Gayatri Mantra
(1) Om Draam Hreem Kraum Dattaatreya Vidmahe Yogeeshwaraaya Dheemahi Tanno Dattaa Prachodayaat
(2) Om Digambaraaya Vidmahe, Yogeeshwaraaya Dheemahi, Tanno Dattaa Prachodayaat
(3) Om Dattaatreya Vidmahe Digambaraaya Dheemahi Tanno Dattaa Prachodayaat
(4) Om Dattaatreya Vidmahe Avadhootaaya Dheemahi Tanno Dattaa Prachodayaat
(5) Om Dattaatreya Vidmahe Atri Putraaya Dheemahi Tanno Dattaa Prachodayaat

Dattaatreya as a Refuge
Dattaatreya was the greatest among all sages. His power to protect was such that Mother Earth herself took the form of a cow and pleaded for his protection. She said, "O great sage, thou art the only refuge." And she, in the form of a cow, is supposed to be under the protection of Dattaatreya. The four dogs which we see around him are the forms taken by the four Vedas - Rig Ved, Yajur Ved, Saam Ved and Atharv Ved. The Ved knew the predicament that is going to come upon them in Kali Yug; they knew that they would be disregarded, insulted and cast aside by people. They, therefore, took the form of dogs, and went to this Sage and sought for his protection from destruction. To the Earth and the four Ved, who thus took shelter under him, Dattaatreya gave "Abhaya" - he bestowed fearlessness upon them. When we go to Dattaatreya for protection, not all the three worlds can shake a hair of our body. This is the spiritual meaning of this beautiful symbol that we see portrayed in the pictures of Lord Dattaatreya with a cow and four dogs.

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
Once Devtaa had to encounter Jambhaasur. He could not be killed by any one of the Tri-Moorti (Brahmaa, Vishnu, Mahesh), so their Guru Brihaspati advised them to take shelter with Dattaatreya Jee. He further advised them to go to Sahyaadri Mountain where Dattaatreya Jee lived. Dattaatreya Jee tested them in several ways and they all passed in them. Indra asked him to help him regarding Jambhaasur. Dattaatreya said - "I cannot go from here, if you bring him here, I can do something." So Devtaa brought Jambhaasur there near Dattaatreya Jee. Anaghaa Devee, who was sitting near Dattaatreya Jee danced over the head of Jambhaasur and Dattaatreya Jee killed him.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/27/03
Updated on 03/12/13