Skip to main content

Rishi Dattatreya :


The story of Dattatreya is told in many Purana-s, and this is from the Markandeya purana (chapter 15). A brahmin named kaushika was enchanted by a courtesan and lost his wealth, health etc. However, his wife, Shandili was faithful to him. She even carried him on her shoulders to the courtesan's place. Once, by mistake, she stepped on Sage Mandavya and the sage cursed both of them to die by sunrise. Shandili prayed and appealed that the sun may never rise so that her husband would live. Her prayer was answered and the devas were in an uproar seeing the world order of time destroyed. They asked for the help of Anusuya, the wife of sage atri, to convince shandili. Anusuya was able to convince shandili on the condition that kaushika would live on sunrise. In appreciation of Anusuya's intervention, the gods granted her three boons. She asked for her liberation, her husband's liberation and that the three gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva be born as sons to her. The wishes being granted, from Sage Atri's eyes issued a light and served as the seed for the divine sons - Soma, Durvasa, and Datta - partial incarnations of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu, respectively. 

Other purana-s give different narratives but all involve the attribution of the name Dattatreya to mean 'Son of sage Atri.' For example, there is a story is that the gods decided to test the chastity of anasuya, the wife of the rishi Atri. So, brahma, vishNu and Siva went to her posing as handsome men. However, Atri was not fooled and transformed all three of them into a single child with three heads. This child is known as Dattatreya and is considered to be an incarnation of the trinity Gods. 

He is said to have lived a rather unconventional life, first being a warrior, then renouncing the world and practicising yoga and then drinking wine and living with a maiden etc to show his disciples that he could be unattached to such mundane pleasures even if he indulges in them. Dattatreya is said to have met Shankara near Kedarnath before Shankara's mahasamadhi. There is a still a cave in Kedarnath signifying this event. 

Regarding the works by him, probably the most controversial is that it is mentioned in the Markandeya purana that he taught the asthanga yoga to Patanjali, who then wrote the yoga suutras. He is also attributed to the composition of the jivanmukta -gita which is a short compendium of 23 verses which talks about the jnani (jivan mukta). Dattatreya is also attributed with avadhuta gita, a text of eight chapters. Swami Vivekananda once said of this book, 'Men like the one who wrote this song keep religion alive. They have actually self-realized; they care for nothing, feel nothing done to the body, care not for heat, cold, danger, or anything. They sit still enjoying the bliss of Brahman.' Dattatreya is the narrator of the Jnana Kanda of tripura rahasya to Parasurama to dispel the latter's doubts on liberation. (The story of Samvrata found in tripura rahasya has been cited by shankara in his brahma suutra bhashya). Further, Dattatreya is attributed with a couple of Tantric works. 

Dattatreya is also mentioned in the Mahabharata. I also believe that certain vaishnavites hold him in high esteem since he is mentioned as a incarnation of vishnu. 

Dattatreya is usually depicted with four dogs by his side, representing the four vedas, a cow behind him (a la vishNu), a trident in his hand (a la Siva) and three heads (a la brahma). He is widely worshipped as a diety throughout India and you can find stotra-s (hymns) dedicated to him. 

The lineage of the Nav Nath sampradaya which traces its origin to dattatreya is extant. The modern jnani Nisargadatta Maharaj is well known. Though he lived in the slums of Bombay, India, he spread the fragrance of advaita vedanta to one and all. His disciple, Ramesh Balsekar, educated in the west, continues the tradition. 

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Swami Udit Chaithanya :

Swami Udit Chaithanya was born and brought up in Kerala, the beautiful green state in the southern west part of India. After graduating in Law, Swamiji joined Sandeepani Sadhanalaya in Bombay. Finishing his post graduation in Vedanta, he became a part of the Chinmaya mission and served the organisation for 3 years. He was inspired by Swami Sevananda who was the secretary of Acharya Vinoba Bhave when he discovered a new dimension in Sevanandaji's unique interpretations of India's ancient spiritual texts.

Ever since, Swamiji has been teaching the messages of Srimad Bhagavatham, Bhagavad Gita, Narayaneeyam and the other Holy Scriptures to thousands of people in India and abroad.

Swamiji has dedicated his life to the mission of spreading the divine message and to transform the society and the individual through heightened spiritual awareness.

Swami Udit Chaitanya is the founder of Bhagavatham village, a spiritual retreat home and Swamiji  has formed “Bhagavatham Village Trust” to pro…

Poojya Swami Bhoomananda Tirthaji’s Main Ashram : "Narayanashrama Tapovanam"

The word 'Ashram' (in Sanskrit) stands for an abode of learning or education. It is a pity that even after 50 years of independence; many of us are prone to associate constricted religiosity with the word and dispose of the institutions under such name as engaged in some sectarian practices. Of course, it is only a corollary of the widespread ignorance with which we often stamp our great Bharatiya (Indian) culture as 'Hindu Religion'.

More than the theoretical knowledge of different subjects, education in our country always meant man-making -- purification, fortification and transformation of personality in the holy association of the Teacher, so that the student would become fit to course victoriously through the vicissitudes of life and attain fulfillment.

And Ashrams were the institutions imparting such education. The most important factor underlying the legendary greatness of ancient Bharat was these honored seats of learning - the Ashrams - where the saintly Teacher…


Rediscover Bharatham!!! Our Father of Nation Mahatma's dream was "Ramarajya in BAharatham". The word secularism may oppose the term used 'Ramarajyam', the term means a land of TRUTH AND VALUES. The Upanishadic culture is the culture of our country. The training given to the citizens of Bharatham to live this Sanatana Dharma is called Hinduism. Bharatham is a Spiritual country. BHA means Knowledge and ratham is one who lives, hence Bharatham means a country where people are living in knowledge. Modernisation, Globalisation , our political parties, our Rulers, our system, our education, parents, new generation, media, our dress code, blind imitation of western countries and many more causes of this. Science and technology is boon for good people, where demonic citizens take advantage and exploit these benefits into criminal activities, we had experience since Atom was mis-used, now the demonic activities is continuing.
Rulers keep open their eyes and ears open and …