26. detsember, 2023

Dattātreya, Avadhut and Digambara

Dattātreya, Avadhut and Digambara

The One Who has been endowed with the anubhūti (spir­itual experience) of the unmanifest (nirgun) is called Dattā. The anubhuti of nirgun essentially means realization that He is the soul (ātmā) or He has attained God-Realization.

Meaning of Datta

The One Who has been endowed with the anubhūti (spir­itual experience) of the unmanifest (nirgun) is called Datta. The anubhuti of nirgun essentially means realization that He is the soul (ātmā) or He has attained God-Realization.

Deity Datta is also known as Dattatreya, Avadhut and Digambar.

Lord Dattātreya is regarded as the visible incarnation of the Supreme Being himself in his aspects as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer, which we know as Brahma, Viṣṇu and Siva, respectively. The creative, the preservative and the disintegrating powers of God are supposed to be manifest in the personality of Lord Dattātreya. The name or word 'Dattātreya' is constituted of two terms, Dattā and Atreya. In Sanskrit, Dattā means one who is bestowed as a gift, and Atreya is an honorific which is derived from the name of a great sage called Atri. The son of Atri is Atreya. A descendent of Atri also is Atreya. One who is bestowed as a divine child on the great Sage Atri, by the Gods Brahma, Viṣṇu and Siva themselves, is Dattātreya. Tradition holds that he was the divine child of Sage Atri, born to his famous consort, Anasuya.

The word ‘Atri’ is made up of A+tri (‘A’ means absent & ‘tri’ means triad), hence this name means – absence of the triad. Let us understand this as follows –

  • The one in whom the triads of the wakeful state, dream state and deep sleep states are absent,
  • The one in whom the triads of subtle components, Sattva-Raja-Tama are absent.

Chandra (Moon), Dattā and Durvâs were Deity Brahma, ShriViṣṇu and Deity Mahesh respectively. Chandra and Durvas left to undertake penance, however, Deity Dattā stayed back on the earth to accomplish the mission of ShriViṣṇu. Thus, the origin of the Guru lineage commenced from here onwards.

The Avadhoota Gita is writen by Sage Dattātreya. He was the combined incarnation of Brahma, Viṣṇu and Śiva. His narration was recorded by his two deciples Swami and Kartika. It is undoubtedly one of the ancient most Hindu Scriptures. Dattātreya belonged to the ancient Vedic period as there is a Dattātreya Upanishad in the Atharvaveda. He is definitely before the Ramayana period as it is mentioned that Dattātreya taught the Shoda-nyasa of Srividya to Lord Parashurama, who was before Lord Rama. He also taught the Asthanga Yoga to Patanjali, who then wrote the famous Patanjali Yoga Sutras. The Avadhoota Gita is regarded by almost all sages as the greatest treatise on Advaita Vedanta. Some are of the openion that Dattātreya was the originator of Tantra.


Legends about his birth are many and varied, and the place he died is unknown. It is stated that he was born on Wednesday, the 14th day of the Full Moon in the month of Margashirsha, but of year and place there is no reliable information. Scholars speculate it must have been not less than 5000 B.C, or even earlier.

The story of Dattātreya is told in many Puranas. The story from Markandeya purana, chapter 15, is as follows:

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, Viṣṇu and Śiva 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 Dattā - partial incarnations of Brahma, Śiva and Viṣṇu, respectively.

Other puranas give different narratives but all involve the attribution of the name Dattātreya 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, Viṣṇu 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 Dattātreya and is onsidered to be an incarnation of all the three gods: Brahma, Viṣṇu and Mahesha.

Skanda Purāna

Anasūyā, the wife of Sage Atri, was well known for Her chastity (pativratā). As a result, she had acquired tremendous power, due to which Deity Indra and other deities felt threatened. So, they went to Deity Brahmā, Shri Vishnu and Deity Mahesh (Shiva) and told Their agony. The trinity of Deities decided to test Anasuya’s chastity.

Once, when Her husband Sage Atri had gone out, the trinity of Deities disguised as guests and approached Anasuya asking for alms. She requested Them to wait till Sage Atri re­turned; but They insisted on being served food immediately. They further said, ‘we have heard that you serve guests food as per their wishes in your hermitage; that is why, we have come here.’ Anasuya agreed to serve Them food as per their wishes. The Deities laid down a condition that She should serve Them in nude. Baffled by this, She thought, ‘my mind is pure, the prowess of my husband’s penance will save me.’ She then contemplated upon her husband and got a thought, ‘these guests are my children.’ The trinity of Deities immediately turned into three little crying babies ! She took Them in Her arms and fed Them Her breast milk.

Just then, Sage Atri returned and She narrated everything to Him. He recognized the true form of the babies and offered obei­sance to Them. The trinity of Deities was appeased and They appeared in front of Sage Atri and Anasuya and told Them to ask for a boon. Sage Atri and Anasuya wanted the babies to be with them. The Deities blessed the couple and left for Their abodes.


At birth, Dattātreya looked like a well-developed child of three or four years. Right after his birth, he told his mother, 'I am leaving home.' She told him to at least wear a langoti, a loincloth. He said that he did not need one: 'I will live just as I have come.' And he spent his whole life as an avadhoota.

He initiated thousands of people. Even while on the move, he would make disciples, give mantra diksha, work for their deliverance, without any discrimination according to religion, caste, sex or conduct. He spent most of his life wandering in the area between and including North Mysore, through Maharashtra, and into Gujarat as far as the Narmada River. One scripture refers to a disciple finding Dattā meditating on Gandhmadana Mountain. He attained realisation at a place not far from the town now known as Gangapur.

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.

Dattātreya is said to have met Shankara near Kedarnath before Shankara's mahasamadhi. There is a still a cave in Kedarnath signifying this event.

One of the symbolic and very significant features of his life is depicted in certain painted portraits which many of you might have seen. In such portraits you will see Dattatreya with a bag hung on his shoulder, leaning, almost, against a cow behind him, with four dogs following him wherever he goes. Four dogs and a cow you will see always with Dattatreya in all portraits and paintings. What are these dogs? Why does he take the dogs with him, wherever he goes? What is this cow and what is this bag? The tradition is this: Dattatreya 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 Brahma, Vishnu and Siva themselves. But, he lives as a fakir. The term 'fakir' means a beggar owning nothing, except a bag (a Jhola, as you call it), and a stick in his hand, which is sometimes identified with the trident.

He goes for Bhiksha or alms, for he lives on alms. 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 reading of this Bhiksha or alms-begging by Lord Dattatreya is that he is asking us: "Give me all your sins." He does not beg for rice, wheat and Dal from us. He asks for the sins of our past lives and of our present life, and this is the Bhiksha that he wants. He will collect the sins of all people. How many sins have we committed in our earlier lives and up to this time in this life! He can swallow and digest all the sins of all the people. So he goes from door to door asking for alms. We can imagine the power of the man who asks for the sins of all people. He does not want our virtues and good conduct. We always ask for good things, merits, Punyam. But, he asks for our sins, Papam only, and not the merits or Punyam. He wants only all the evil propensities that are in us. He puts them in his Jhola or bag and walks off and digests the whole thing. These sages are terrible and their powers are inconceivable.

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. 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, "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."

The long conversation which Dattatreya and the King Yadu had is recorded in the eleventh book of the Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana. Dattatreya, such a great master, humbly said, "I am a student of Nature." If he is a student, who are his Gurus? 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?" Dattatreya 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. 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. 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. You know, these ladies 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. . I learnt from the maiden that living among many would create discord, disturbance, dispute and quarrel. Even among two there might be unnecessary words or strife. The ascetic or the Sannyasin should remain alone in solitude

Likewise, Dattatreya 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 Isand Dattatreya 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, Isand Dattatreya, is regarded as an embodiment of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. He is regarded as the Guru of Gurus and he is specially worshipped on Brihaspativara or Guruvara, which is the sacred Thursday. Thursday is supposed to be the Guru's day and we worship the great Guru Isand Dattatreya on every Thursday. May we all become fit instruments for the reception of the unbounded grace of Isand Dattatreya by following his example.

Scripts and teachings

The teachings of Lord Dattatreya can be found in several ancient scriptures and texts in Hinduism. Some of the significant scriptures associated with Dattatreya's teachings include:

  • Tripura Rahasya: This text is a dialogue between Lord Dattatreya and his disciple Parashurama, where profound spiritual wisdom is imparted.
  • Avadhuta Gita: It is part of the Dattatreya Upanishad and consists of teachings delivered by Lord Dattatreya to assembled sages. It emphasizes non-duality and liberation.
  • Guru Gita: Although not exclusively focused on Dattatreya, some versions of the Guru Gita contain verses related to Dattatreya as the supreme guru and embodying the essence of all gurus.
  • Jivanmukta Gita: This scripture also contains teachings related to Lord Dattatreya and the concept of a liberated being (Jivanmukta) free from worldly attachments.
  • Dattatreya Purana: This is a text dedicated to Lord Dattatreya, which contains stories, teachings, and legends associated with him.

These scriptures and texts highlight the profound wisdom, spiritual insights, and teachings attributed to Lord Dattatreya, revered as a symbol of the universal guru embodying the essence of the Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva).

Dattātreya is also mentioned in the Mahabharata, in the Yagyavakya Upanishad, Jabala Upanishad, Narada-Parivraja Upanishad, Bhikshu Upanishad ans Shandilya Upanishad. The Vaishnavites hold him in high esteem since he is mentioned as a incarnation of Viṣṇu

The Tripura Rahasya is a sacred ancient text that is highly regarded in Advaita Vedanta and is often associated with the teachings of Lord Dattatreya.

The Tripura Rahasya is a dialogue between Lord Dattatreya and his disciple Parashurama, where Dattatreya imparts spiritual knowledge and wisdom to Parashurama. It is divided into three sections, or "rahasyas," which correspond to the three stages of spiritual realization: Jnana (knowledge), Yoga (practice), and Sankhya (understanding).

This text delves into various spiritual topics such as the nature of reality, the self, meditation practices, and the path to liberation (moksha). It is highly respected in the spiritual and philosophical traditions of India and is considered a valuable source of wisdom for seekers on the path of self-realization and enlightenment.

The Avadhuta Gita is another important scripture associated with Lord Dattatreya. It is a part of the larger scripture known as the "Dattatreya Upanishad," although it is also sometimes treated as an independent scripture.

The Avadhuta Gita is a conversation between Lord Dattatreya and the assembled sages, where Dattatreya imparts profound spiritual teachings. The term "avadhuta" refers to a liberated being who has transcended worldly attachments and limitations, existing in a state of absolute freedom and enlightenment.

This scripture delves into various aspects of Advaita Vedanta, emphasizing the non-dual nature of reality, the illusory nature of the world, the unity of the self (Atman) with the supreme reality (Brahman), and the path to liberation through knowledge and realization.

The Avadhuta Gita contains verses that offer deep insights into the nature of existence, the impermanence of the material world, and the ultimate truth of the self. It is revered as a profound philosophical text that guides seekers on the path to spiritual awakening and liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

Guru Principle

Lord Dattātreya is the Grand Teacher or “Guru principle” in the universe. All the teachers in various planes are the manifestation of the one teaching principle who is referred to in the ancient Indian wisdom as Dattātreya.

Lord Dattātreya presides over all yogic activities, anywhere in creation. He is the Cosmic Lord of Yoga. He is an embodiment of the Trinity, the synthesis of the First, Second and Third Logos. He condescended to be amidst the humans on this planet, at the behest of the Seven Seers of Wisdom. He came down in various ages to teach yoga. For the benefit of the humanity in Kali Yuga, the present Dark Age, he took birth and he guided for three continuous incarnations. The first of these incarnations is Srīpāda Srīvallabha (1320 – 1350).

Lord Dattātreya generally resides in Sirius which is called the Dog Star. In Sanskrit, it is known as Sārameya Mandala. Sarama means a dog. Sirius is known in Vedic Astronomy as the sphere of dogs. Dogs are known for their ever watchful awareness. Presiding in Sirius, Lord Dattātreya transmits his energies of synthesis onto our planet. The teachers on the planet are guided by his energy.

Lord Dattātreya is also called “Dattā”. Dattā in Sanskrit means “the One that is donated”. His nature is to give his presence. Atreya means “the son of Atri”.

Atri is one of the Seven Seers / principles of creation. Atri also means “not three”. The one who came down from that which is not three is called Atreya.

Thus, that which is not three, is donated through the three into all the planes of creation to help the beings to find the path back to Truth.

That which is beyond the three is the pure consciousness, which manifests through the three qualities of itself. The One that is beyond enters into the triangle of creation and helps the creation.

Dattātreya is the principle, which exists in all as the Teacher principle, as the friend, as the guide, that leads one onto one's own source of Existence. Dattātreya is an eternal principle that incarnates, in any plane of existence, as per the time and need.

The essential principle relating to the state of Dattātreya is pure consciousness expressed through equated qualities.

Lord Dattātreya is beyond the Trinity but can also express through the Trinity. As pure consciousness he can be like the Divine Mother and as pure existence he can be the God Absolute. He is potent with all possibilities. That is how he is conceived by the seers of ancient times, as “all in one and one in all”.

The state of equilibrium relating to the three qualities is geometrically described as the equilateral triangle. The triple qualities fabricate the seven planes of the creation, which are explained as the ten seeds.

The decad is the ancient most symbol of Dattātreya in its numerical and geometrical form. Its pure geometrical form is the triangle within a circle with a centre; its figurative and poetic and more elaborate form is what is given as the man with three heads, six hands, accompanied by a cow and four dogs. He holds six different weapons in six different hands.

The Equilateral Triangle within a Circle and a Central Point

Dattātreya forms the path of yoga for the benefit of the beings.


The Dogs

In his figurative symbol, Srī Guru Dattā is accompanied by 4 dogs. These four represent the four Vedas, the four Yugas, and the four states of the Word. They also refer to the four states of Existence.

The dog is one of the sublime symbols of the Veda. The dog represents the faculty to listen, to listen far, and to listen to the subtle. The dogs have a better ability to listen than the humans.

The Cow

Dattātreya is said to be accompanied by a healthy white cow. The cow is under the protection of Srī Guru Dattā. In the Vedic symbolism, the cow stands for the knowledge, creation and also for Earth.

The planet and the creation offer innumerable wealth, pleasure experiences, happiness, joyfulness, and bliss. They are willing to be milked, to nourish the beings in all planes of existence. The drinking of cow milk is symbolic of such nourishment, growth and contentment in the physical, vital, mental, buddhic, and blissful planes.

The ancient Indian scriptures proclaim that no one who intends to live in peace can afford to hurt a cow, a woman, and the planet. If one worships, protects and nourishes these three, then they get favourably inclined towards the one. Their favourable inclination gives the inexplicable joy and the pleasure of being. It is for this reason Dattātreya is depicted as protecting the cow. The cow is the giver of all fulfilment, joy, happiness, good experiences and wisdom.

The Six Hands

Srī Guru Dattā is depicted with three heads and six hands. In one hand he holds a conch, in the other he holds the celestial wheel, in the third hand a mace, in the fourth hand a trident, in the fifth hand a water carrier, and in the sixth hand a begging bowl.

The Conch - The conch indicates the principle of expansion and contraction presided over by Jupiter and Saturn. On the path to Truth there is the expansion of consciousness, which needs to be consolidated at each step.

The Wheel - The wheel stands for time and time is presided over by the true teacher. He initiates the disciple into the knowledge relating to time, so that the disciple can skilfully adapt to the favourable and unfavourable periods of life, without getting disturbed, in terms of vibrations by the pleasant and unpleasant events. Since the Teacher, Srī Guru Dattā is “the One beyond the three qualities”, time co-operates with him and helps him to help the seekers of Truth.

 The Mace - The mace is symbolic of the instrument that subjugates pride. Self-pride needs to be sacrificed on the altar of service to the fellow beings and Srī Guru Dattā appropriately uses the mace to put down the pride of those who follow the Path of Truth. The mace also symbolises the inverted position of the cerebro-spinal system, which is the abode of consciousness. If the mace is held upright, it resembles the light of the head, followed by the column of light of the spine. Srī Guru Dattā, humbles the truth-seekers and enables reversing many inversions which the truth-seekers suffer from.

 The Trident - The trident held by Srī Guru Dattā is symbolic of the triple energy held in an etheric form within the brahmadanda, the centre of the vertebral column. The triple energies are referred to as ida, pingala, and sushumna. They are the left, the right and the central energy currents. The left current causes the materialisation, the right current causes spiritualization and the central current causes the balance between the two, enabling the existence of the being in a particular plane of existence.

The Water Carrier - The water carrier of Srī Guru Dattā is in essence the life carrier. The teacher should bestow life and longevity to the student oriented to him, so that the student would fulfil himself through yoga during that incarnation. It is for this reason a true teacher is a true healer and is even life giver. Until the student gains mastery, he helps the student with health and longevity. The teacher bestows three essential benedictions on the student. One is longevity, another is health and the third benediction is the path to Truth leading to mastery.

The Begging Bowl - The begging bowl: Srī Guru Dattā carries a begging bowl, but he is not a beggar. To protect the beings, he begs them to donate their limitations, their impurities, their evil motives, and their substandard behaviours. It is for this reason he extends the hand with the begging bowl towards everyone that orients to him. He would like his followers to freely donate all that which is the cause of disease so that the donor would regain the ease.



What Dattātreya says is, “Contemplate. Keep feeding people. Keep attending to your duties. See me in the beings. And in your restful hours relate to me within.”

The seed sound relating to Srī Guru Dattā is DRAM. The sound DA signifies dana whose English word is “to donate”. The sound showers benedictions for mundane and supermundane fulfilment. It can fulfil desires, including the desire for immortality and self-realisation.

You can chant DRAM DATTĀTREYĀYA NAMAHA, or DRAM DATTĀ MURTHAYE NAMAHA - the number of syllables in these two mantrams is the same. They are to be chanted mentally but not vocally. The mind is to be engaged with the mantra, that is a practice. Much wisdom will unfold from within, when you regularly relate to the mantram in the morning and evening. Continued recitation in silence, with inner and outer purity of life, would enable the fulfilment of the mantram.

The Dattātreya Gayatri




The Gayatri related to Dattātreya is not from the popular exoteric sources but from ashramic sources. In every line of this mantram there are eight syllables, all together there are twenty four syllables. The meaning is: We meditate upon the son of Atreya so that he enlightens us. He is essentially Bhadrambara; he is like the lighted sky, meaning existence and awareness.