Spiritual Import of Religious Festivals -15-4.

Lord Dattatreya – Master Par Excellence-4.

Lord Dattatreya was the greatest among such sages. His power to protect was such that Mother Earth herself took the form of a cow and pleaded for succor. 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 Lord Dattatreya.

The four dogs which we see around him are the forms taken by the four Vedas – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. The Vedas knew the predicament that is going to come upon them in Kali Yuga; 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-Protector for protection from destruction. To Mother Earth and the four Vedas, who thus took shelter under him, Lord Dattatreya gave Abhayam; he bestowed fearlessness upon them. When we go to Lord Dattatreya 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 Dattatreya with a cow and four dogs."

It is also given in a famous scripture of our land, the Srimad Bhagavata, that one day Lord Dattatreya 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 it was Sage Dattatreya.

He took him to be a beggar and wondered within himself: "How is this person so happy, even though he has nothing with him! I am an 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?" He went and humbly prostrated himself before Dattatreya 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?" Dattatreya did not say who he was.

He merely said, "I am happy because of what I am, not because of what I have." 

"Here is the secret of happiness. We are happy in proportion to what we are and not in proportion to what we have. While the king had many things, he was an empty shell inside; on the other hand, Dattatreya had nothing to possess and call his own, but he was everything himself."

To be continued ..
Swami Krishnananda
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