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

Dattaatreya and His Disciples
There are 6 disciples of Dattaatreya known to us - Prahlaad, Aayu, YaduAlark and Parashuraam. These five are known from Puraan. And Sahastraarjun Kaartveerya is known from  Bhavishya Puraan, 4/19 and MBH also.

Sahastraarjun, Kaartveerya Arjun, or Sahastrabaahu, or Arjun was one of his great devotees. His story comes in Bhavishya Puraan, 4/19. Krishn says to Yudhishthir praising him - "One day Haihaya king Kaartveerya Arjun of Maahishmatee Nagaree came to him and started serving him day and night. Dattaatreya got very pleased with his services. He granted him four Var at his request - (1) he should have 1,000 arms, (2) he should rule Prithvi with Dharm and there should be no A-Dharm in his kingdom, (3) he should not be defeated by anybody in battlefield, and (4) he should be killed only by Vishnu. In addition to them he asked for a gold Vimaan also which could go anywhere. Thus Hey Kaunteya, He gave him kingdom with eight Siddhi and Arjun also started ruling seven Dweep (island) Prithvi with Dharm. All this was the effect of his 1,000 arms. He could produce chariot with flag through his Maayaa. Ten thousand Yagya were always being performed in his kingdom. Their Vedee, Mandap and pots etc were always of gold. Braahman used to get lots of Dakshinaa in those Yagya. Devtaa, Gandharv and Apsaraa etc used to come to attend those Yagya.

In Bhaagvat Puraan, 11/6, Krishn tells Dattaatreya and Raajaa Yadu's dialog in which Dattaatreya tells Yadu that he has 24 Guru - Earth, air, sky or ether, water, fire, sun, moon, python, pigeons, sea, moth, bee, bull elephant, bear, deer, fish, osprey, a child, a maiden, a courtesan, a blacksmith, serpent, spider, and wasp.

The reference of Dattaatreya and Parashuraam Jee comes in Tripur Rahasya.  see also  Parashuraam Jee and Dattaatreya.

Dattaatreya and Prahlaad
Bhaagvat Puraan, 7/6 gives the dialog between Dattaatreya and Prahlaad.

Dattaatreya - "There are numberless impurities, but they can be put into three major categories: skepticism, Kaarmik impurities, and a false sense of duty."

Skepticism means improper thinking, lack of faith, not believing what is said in the scriptures and by the saints, or not believing in any higher truth. This is improper, confusing thinking, and it is associated with those who know little but think they know a lot. Such is a case with many philosophers and learned scholars who know the truth intellectually but have not experienced it through spiritual practice. There are many reasons for this, but ego and skepticism are the greatest ones.

Kaarmik impurity is the result of every single action we perform, whether mental, verbal, or physical. The subtle impressions of our actions, know as Sanskaar, are stored in the mind, and each time we perform an action we create a little mark in the mind field. In our numberless lifetimes we have created many such traces. They pollute the transparency of the mind, and as a result the mind becomes dull and loses its spontaneous capacity to comprehend the truth about reality. Karmic impurities also determine the particular species into which we are born and the length of time we spend in it. Our inner tendencies, inclinations, and attitudes are largely governed by those impurities. They tend to counteract the power of determination.

A false sense of duty is the third type of impurity, and this is the most difficult of all to remove because there is no end to worldly duties and obligations. The aspirant must learn to decide which are the most important and take care of those first. Those who are not awakened to spiritual awareness are driven by urges and by nature. They remain involved in the world because they do not know life's other dimensions. By the time they complete one project the next is already waiting. But Self- realization is the highest goal of life, and compared to this, all worldly duties are secondary. If this fact is not firmly fixed in the mind there is no way to attain freedom form worldly obligations. But without spiritual awareness, turning away from the world is a source of misery, and to disregard worldly obligations without having a highest purpose kills your conscience.

Dattaatreya and the King Yadu - 24 Guru
One can find this conversation in Bhaagvat Puraan, 11/6. Dattaatreya was such a great master that he humbly said, "I am a student of Nature." He did not say that he was a Guru. Nowadays, nobody says that he is a student; everybody says he is a Yoga-teacher! Nobody would say that he is a Yog student.! But this great master Dattaatreya said that he was a student of the forces of Nature.

If he was a student, who was his Guru? He did not have one Guru, he was the student of everything. He says, "I am a student of Mother Earth; I am a student of the waters of the ocean; I am a student of the air that blows; I am a student of the Sun that shines; I am a student of the Moon that is luminous in the sky; I am a student of the honey bees that collect the pollen-nectar from various flowers; I am a student of the fish; I am a student of the vulture." The king was astonished and said, "O God! You are a student of all these things! What does it mean? How are you a student of all these? What lessons did you learn from them?" Dattaatreya then gives surprising answers to King Yadu, as follows:

"Earth is my Guru, because I learn the lesson of immense, unlimited and unsurpassed patience from the earth. You may spit on the earth, you may defecate or micturate, you may walk with shoes over her or you may kick her. Still, Mother Earth does not complain. How patient is this earth! All the dirt we throw on her face, but still Mother Earth does not complain. How stable she is! I have learnt patience and stability from earth. So earth is my Guru and I am her student.

"Now hear what I have learnt from the waters of the ocean. Whatever be the quantity of water that is poured into or removed from the ocean, neither does it increase nor decrease. The ocean maintains its dignity, fixity and content. Likewise whether people praise me or censure me, whether they talk for me or against me, whatever it be, it makes no difference to me. And, further, I maintain purity of character like the water which is a symbol of purity.

"Fire also is my Guru. Fire burns anything that you may offer. If you offer ghee, it burns; if you offer milk, that also it burns; if you offer dirt, that too it burns. When it burns anything, that burnt stuff becomes pure. Dung becomes pure when it is burnt by fire. It may be a pure or an impure thing that is offered, it makes no difference to the fire; it turns that thing pure. Likewise, whatever enters me through the sense organs is converted by me into the residue which remains after it is burnt by the fire of knowledge.

"I will tell you what I have learnt from air. I roam about wherever I like, like air. Freedom is my nature. Air cannot be controlled by anybody. You cannot tell the air to stop here or to stop there. Further, purity is the character of air. Wherever air blows, it purifies everything there. Pavana is a Sanskrit word which means 'one who purifies'. Pavana is also the term used for air. All infection in the atmosphere is removed by the movement of air. Stuffiness, insanitation and impurity of every kind are removed and the whole atmosphere is turned pure by the movement of air. Similarly, wherever I go I spread the atmosphere of purity, goodness, compassion and mercy, and I am free like air in motion and I do not stick to a particular place. I am not bound by the atmosphere around me.

"I will now tell you what I have learnt from space, which is one of my Gurus. Vast is my kingdom like space. Everything is mine and everything is not mine also. Everything is contained in space and yet space cannot be contained by anybody. I do not depend on anything, even as space does not depend on anything. Everything depends upon space for its existence.

"I learnt a lesson from the honey bee. The bee moves from place to place and from flower to flower, collects sweet pollen from flowers and mixes them into a jelly, then blends all these beautiful essences into what is called honey. Likewise I go from place to place, meet different persons and things, get what is good in them, collect the knowledge that is in them and blend all of them into the wisdom of my life.

"A bird also is my Guru. Do you know how that bird is my Guru? It so happened that I saw a bird carrying a piece of flesh in its beak. It was flying, high up in the sky, and a vulture pursued it. Why did the vulture pursue this small bird? Because there was some eatable in its mouth. Oh, the bird went here and there in search of some place of safety, but the vulture pursued the bird wherever it went. At last the bird dropped the piece of meat, and went away free, because the vulture left pursuing it. The vulture was interested only in the flesh. This bird taught me the lesson that possession is the cause of bondage and suffering. So I do not possess anything. If you possess anything, you are always pursued by someone. I have nothing with me and I go free.

"I learnt a lesson from a poor girl, in a village. Please hear what lesson I learnt from that girl. That girl belonged to a very poor family. They had barely something to eat for a single meal a day. She was to be betrothed to some gentleman. That gentleman, with his father and mother, came to the house of this poor girl to see her. They wanted to know how she looked and what she was like, and all that. People do not settle a marriage without properly investigating into the background of the girl. So they were talking to the girl's parents. And the hospitality of the country is such that whenever guests come they have to be fed first. And there was nothing to feed them with, except a little unhusked paddy grain which had to be husked for obtaining rice. They were too poor to have any servant in the house. So, she herself started pounding the paddy inside the house, for the sake of getting rice which had to be cooked for feeding the guests. These women wear bangles. This girl also was wearing a number of bangles on both the wrists, of course all cheap glass bangles. So when she started pounding the paddy with a pestle, the bangles started making sound "Kanu, Kunu". She thought: "Now what will the guests think? They will think that since I am myself doing the work, our family must be very poor and therefore I am not a suitable match for them. Oh, these bangles are causing the trouble! I will remove them." So she removed all the bangles, leaving only two bangles on each wrist. And still they made a sound "Tung, Tung, Tung". Then she removed one more and kept only one. Then there was no sound. So, I have learnt from this girl that I must be alone. Even two persons are not good. There is a saying: "Ek Niranjan; Do Gadabad; Teen lath-path": If one person is there, he is happy; if two are there, there is quarrel; and three means fighting. And in the Naarad Parivraajak Upanishad also it is said, "Ekah Saadhu Suprayuktah, Dwiteeyam Graam Muchyate, Triteeyam Nagaram Smritam." This means that one person is good, two persons make a village and three make a city. I have learnt this lesson from that poor girl, who is therefore one of my Gurus."

Likewise, Dattaatreya gives a list of twenty-four Gurus, regarding himself as a humble student of the whole of creation. He also teaches us the lesson that the higher is one's knowledge, the humbler is that person. The larger is our wisdom, the smaller we look in the eyes of people. The nearer we are to God, the farther we appear from people's eyes. So Dattaatreya is here before us as a spiritual magnet and a magnificent embodiment of divine power the powers even of creation, preservation and destruction. This three-faced God, Dattaatreya, is regarded as an embodiment of Brahmaa, Vishnu and Shiv. He is regarded as the Guru of Gurus and he is specially worshipped on Brihaspati Vaar or Guru Vaar, which is the sacred Thursday. Thursday is supposed to be the Guru's day and we worship the great Guru Dattaatreya on every Thursday. May we all become fit instruments for the reception of the unbounded grace of Dattaatreya by following his example.

Dattaatreya and the King Alark

King Alark Receives Ring
After reaching the youth, Prince Alark got married. By that time, his father King Ritudhwaj had also grown old. Hence before leaving Grihasth Aashram for Sanyaas, he crowned his son as the new king. At the time of crowning, queen Madaalasaa presented him a ring and said - "O Son, This ring contains a note which will teach you on how a king should administer the kingdom.' Saying this, Madaalasaa blessed Alark and left the palace with her husband Ritudhwaj to spend their lives in the forest.

Dattaatreya Preaches to Alark
Alark says - "O Lord, With the arising of disenchantment in my heart, I have no miseries now. Only those people feel drowned in the ocean of miseries who are attached to worldly things. A man feels all kinds of sorrows due to his attachments towards the luxuries in which his mind indulges. Now neither sorrow nor joy can affect me."

Dattaatreya says - "O King, Whatever you said is correct. Attachment is the cause of both sorrow and happiness. It is because of the knowledge I gave to you that the "mist of attachment" has disappeared from your heart. A small sprout of ego ultimately develops into a huge tree of ignorance. Affection is the trunk of this tree. Home and family are the branches and wife and children are the leaves of this tree. Wealth and cereals are the flowers and happiness and sorrow are the fruits of this tree. Relation that emerges out of affection is the canopy of this tree. This tree grows day by day and obscures the path of liberation. This tree is full of desires and those who sit under the lee of this tree can never attain salvation. Hence felling of this tree is of foremost importance for a person desirous of attaining "Brahmajitwa".

Perfection in Yog
Dattaatreya says - "During the process of conquering the soul, different kinds of allurements begins to divert the mind of the Yogis. It is imperative for the Yogi to keep his mind busy by observing fast, worshipping and contemplating God. It is the duty of the Yogi to always contemplate God, only then he can seek solace in Him. Thus, after controlling his senses, a Yogee ought to eat and sleep less, attain unification with the Supreme Being. O king! A Yogi unifies with Brahma once his physical and mental faults are removed. Then, he never separates from the Supreme Being."

Description of Omkaar
Dattaatreya says - "Those Yogee who abide by their resolution are never degraded from their supreme position. Such Yogee always recite Om while contemplating on the eternal God. 'A', 'U' and 'M', these three syllables constitute the body OM or AUM. These three syllables represent the virtues (Gun) of Sat, Tam and Raj respectively. Thus, by contemplating on God and reciting Om, a Yogee ultimately achieves unification with that eternal spirit. But there are still some disastrous traps that a Yogee should guard himself against, otherwise his entire penance might turn futile at the time of death. Hence every Yogee must be aware of these disastrous traps."

Alark Masters Yog and Penance of Jad and His Father
The words of Alark pleased the King of Kaashee. Subaahu got up gladly and after embracing Alark, said to the king of Kaashee - "O King, I had taken your refuge to win the kingdom. Now, I have got it without fighting a war and without a drop of blood being shed. But, I am leaving now, renouncing everything." The King of Kaashee said - "Subaahu, Why have you taken refuge in me? What have you received now?" Subaahu said - "O King, My younger brother Alark had been so far indulging in luxuries despite having metaphysical knowledge. He was in fact experiencing miseries in his household. When the miseries cross all limits, only then renunciation arises in the mind, as is the case with Alark. That was why I had taken your refuge. My job is finished now. So I am leaving to attain perfection in Yog. O King, I regard those people who ignore their near and dear ones in their miseries as heartless. Such people are degraded from their position of Dharm, Arth, Kaam and Moksh and are criticized everywhere."

The King of Kaashee said - "O Subaahu, You have salved your brother Alark. Now kindly salve me also."
Subaahu said - "Attainment of Dharm, Arth, Kaam and Moksh are the four major objectives for the attainment for the human beings. You have already attained Dharm, Arth and Kaam, now only Moksh remains to be attained now. "It is mine", "It is me" etc. are expressions of ego. Guarding the self from these thoughts is the true knowledge. A man must know "What is to be known?", "Who is to know?" and "Who is he?" A knowledge of these automatically leads to the knowledge of all." Saying these words, Subaahu left the palace.

The king of Kaashee too returned to his kingdom. Alark crowned his elder son as the new king and he began to practice Yog in a forest. After many years of rigorous practice, Alark attained salvation and his abode in Brahma Lok.
The Braahman's son said - "O father, Now you too must take refuge in Yog in order to attain Brahm. I too will try to attain salvation."
The birds say - 'O Braahman, Thus the father and son began their penance and attained salvation."

Wisdom of Alark
After his accession to the throne, King Alark ruled justly. In due course of time, he got many sons. He followed the dictates of Dharm, Arth and Kaam while ruling his kingdom. In spite of enjoying all the luxuries, Alark still could not experience bliss and felt as if he was missing something in his life. Very soon, Subahu came to learn about the royal luxuries of his brother Alark and got tempted to enjoy the same luxuries. To attain his objective, Subahu took the help of the king of Kaashee. The King of Kaashee sent an envoy to Alark with a message to give the kingdom to Subaahu, which Alark refused. Instead, he sent a reply that the request must be made by Subaahu himself - "I will not give him my kingdom out of fear of war," said Alark. But Subaahu did not pay heed and with the help of the King of Kaashee, launched a massive attack on his kingdom and conquered it. Now Alark's days of sorrow had begun.

He then remembered the ring presented by his mother Madaalasaa. He opened the ring and found a letter in it. The letter said - "When you lose your everything, give up the company of your present advisors and join the company of learned sages." This message made Alark pine for the company of the learned sages. Very soon, he went to the refuge of Dattaatreya and requested him to remove his miseries. Dattaatreya assured him of removing his miseries at once but before doing that, he wanted to know the reasons for his miseries. Alark said - "I do not long for pleasures but my elder brother wants to grab my kingdom."

Dattaatreya says - "O King, With the attainment of knowledge, people come to conjugate with the Supreme Almighty and which results into dispersion of their ignorance. To attain Moksh, first of all it is necessary for a man to shun all worldly attachments. Only after that, he will become free from sorrows. When he becomes free from sorrow, he unites with the Supreme Almighty. This phenomenon is known as Yog. Unification with the Supreme Almighty enables a man to attain knowledge and finally Moksh (salvation). It is therefore essential for the all those seeking salvation that first of all they should renounce affection and attachment for the worldly objects including their near and dear ones.

Knowledge and renunciation are nothing but two sides of the same coin and one is necessary to give rise to the other. Home is nothing but the place for staying, food is nothing but the energy required for sustaining our body, and knowledge is nothing but an aid to attain salvation. Anything that caused obstacles in the way of salvation is ignorance. A living being is bound to receive the fruits of his action no matter whether they are good or bad. Hence one should carry out his duties without bothering for the results. With the attenuation of the results of the action performed in the previous births, a living being becomes free from the cycles of life and death. With the attainment of Yog, Yogee take refuge in none other than Brahm. But the path of attaining Yog is indeed difficult, if not impossible. One has to conquer his soul first because the soul itself is regarded as invincible. Control of physical impurities with the help of Praanaayaam, sins by determination, lust by self-restrains and contemplation on God are the ways to conquer the soul.

Daily Routine of a Yogee
Alark said - "O Lord, now kindly narrate about the daily routine, a Yogee should abide by in order to preserve his piousness.
Dattaatreya replied - "O King, Respect and insult are the two reasons for love and hatred. Yogee attain perfection by understanding insult as respect and vice versa. A Yogee should therefore never attend social functions like Shraaddh, marriage ceremonies or other festivities. He should not accept the hospitality of others and should shun unnecessary journeys. A Yogee should seek alms only after the householder and his family has dined. A Yogee should accept alms only from those households whose inmates are gentle, religious and free from blemishes and should accept things like whey, milk, fruits, edible roots, gram flour etc. Before going to dine, a Yogee should offer his food to the Deities reciting he following Mantra -
Praanaaya Swaahaa,  Apaanaaya Swaahaa,  Samaanaaya Swaahaa,  Udaanaaya Swaahaa, Vyaanaaya Swaahaa

After reciting these Mantra one by one and offering food to the deities who are present in his body as different forms of air, the Yogee may now proceed to dine.

(1, 2) Control of senses and greed, (3) celibacy, (4) renunciation and (5) non-violence are the five resolutions of a Yogee.
(1) Control of anger, (2) service to the Guru, (3) sanctity, (4) eating less and (5) studying Ved regularly are the five norms for a Yogee.
A Yogee must practice meditation at a desolate place, forest, cave or peak of a mountain. A true celibate has full control over his speech, mind and action. Iron and gold have equal worth in his eye; he loves no one and hates no one."

Description of Disastrous Traps
Dattaatreya said - "A person who is unable to see the path of the deities, or the heavenly bodies like Dhruv, Shukra (Venus), Som (Moon), or his own shadow or Goddess Arundhatee, must understand that his death is near. For those people to whom, the Sun appears without radiance but fire appears as the Sun, die within eleven months. Sighting of gold and silver in urine or stools signifies death within ten months. Those who see ghosts, Gandharv and gold tree in the dreams live for nine months only. Those who become fat or thin suddenly live for eight months more. Those Yogee whose heels appear cracked while walking on sand or mud die within seven months. Getting perched on the body by volatile birds like vulture, pigeon, owl, crow etc indicates that the concerned person will live for only six months. Those who see their shadow in opposite direction live for four or five months more only. Those who sight lightning without clouds or rainbow during the night time in their dreams live for two or three months more. Those who cannot see their reflection in ghee, oil, water and mirror die within a month. A person whose body smells like a cadaver dies within fifteen days. Those whose hands and feet remain dry even after taking bath and dry even after taking light refreshments live only for ten days. Those who sight hair, cinders, ash, snakes and dried rivers in their dreams, die on the eleventh day. Those who feel hungry even after eating their fill also die soon.

O King, There are many more disastrous symptoms that indicate death. A Yogee must always be alert regarding these signs. Whenever a Yogee perceives the appearance of all or some of these disastrous symptoms, he must at once take to Yog to minimize the effects of these traps.

Brahm Gyaan
A Yogee experiences extreme joy when he meditates while doing Yog. Only then can he experience Brahm. Physical body is ephemeral; hence a true Yogee does not mourn over the loss of physical body. Hence, a Yogee must train his mind in Yog ignoring sorrow or affection. This is indeed a difficult task to achieve." Alark said - "O Braahman, By your blessings, my ignorance has ended. Now I will do everything so that ignorance does not grip me once again."

Then taking Dattaatreya's permission, Alark went back to the King of Kaashee and said to him - "O King, You have a desire for the kingdom, so take this kingdom and enjoy its luxuries yourself or give it to Subaahu." The King of Kaashee asked Alark as to why he was renouncing the kingdom without fighting a war. He also tried to instigate Alark by saying that his conduct did not suit the Kshatriya. Alark said - "Only Brahm is truth, all the other things are false. Now controlling my senses, I will attain perfection in Yog."

See also Next Page for more Disciple of Dattaatreya



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/27/03
Updated on 05/04/13