Dattatray or Dattaguru is a very important deity in Hinduism. He is depicted as a god with three heads. These heads represent Bramha Vishnu and Mahesh. It is said that Brahma Vishnu and Mahesh the three most powerful and important Gods decided to test the honor of a great pativrata women called Anusuya. They appeared before her as mere young brahmins. Anusuya as dharmic woman she was offered them food at her home. The brahmins said they require great care in their service and hence will not be able to have food at her place. She was very upset and promised on her honor that she will do everything to please the brahmins. It was perhaps because she had already sensed that these three brahmins were not ordinary mortals.
Once they agreed and the brahmins put forward their request. That the only way they will eat food from her if she serves them while being completely naked. She was shocked at this. But since she had already made the promise, she nevertheless went inside and disrobed. As she did so she prayed to these very Gods that her honor must be protected. Her pativratya, her spiritual power was such that moment she entered the room naked all three gods were turned into mere infants. Since it was perfectly fine for her to be naked in front of infants she fed them with great love and care.
All three gods were greatly impressed with her and were born to her as Dattatreya. But then ther are many stories. Some say he was born to Anusuya an unwed woman as sage Atri fantasized about her while watching her bath naked.
Dattatreya is especially popular in Maharashtra and considered a deity of tantra. He is always depicted in a standing posture along with Cows and Dogs. Nath sampradya to which Gorakhnath and Macchindranath belong are supposed to be greatest of disciples of Dattatreya.
Dattatreya had not official Guru and is self taught. He made 24 gurus. From them he made some learning which are popular even today.
|Serial Number||Guru||Observation||Dattatreya’s Learning|
|1.||Earth||Steadfastly productive, does its dharma, gets abused, heals and is steady in giving nourishment.||forbearance, remain undisturbed even if oppressed, keep healing even if others injure you|
|2.||Wind||Passes through everything and everyone, unchanged, unattached, like Truth; sometimes becomes a gale, disturbs and changes the world, like Truth.||be free like the wind, yet resolute true to your own force|
|3.||Sky||the highest has no boundaries, no limits, is unaffected even if clouds and thunderstorms come and go||the highest within oneself, the Atman (self, soul) has no limits, it is undifferentiated non-dual no matter what, let the clouds of materiality pass, be one with your soul and the Universal Self|
|4.||Water||serves all without pride, discrimination; is transparent to everyone; purifies and gives life to everyone it touches||a saint discriminates against no one and is never arrogant, lets other give him impurity, yet he always remains pure and cleanses|
|5.||Fire||purifies and reforms everything it comes in contact with, its energy shapes things||the heat of knowledge reforms everything it comes in contact with, to shape oneself one needs the energy of learning|
|6.||Moon||waxes and wanes but its oneness doesn’t change||birth, death, rebirth and the cycle of existence does not change the oneness of soul, like moon it is a continuous eternal reality|
|7.||Sun||source of light and gives its gift to all creatures as a sense of duty; in rain puddles it reflects and seems like distinct in each puddle, yet it is the same one Sun||the soul may appear different in different bodies, yet everyone is connected and the soul is same in all; like Sun, one must share one’s gifts as a sense of duty|
|8.||Pigeons||they suffer losses in the hands of violent hunters, warn against obsessive attachments to anyone or to material things in this world||do not be obsessive, don’t focus on transient things such as damage or personal loss, human life is a rare privilege to learn, discover one’s soul and reach moksha|
|9.||Python||eats whatever comes its way, makes the most from what it consumes||be content with what you have, make the most from life’s gifts|
|10.||Bumblebee||active, works hard to build and create its reserve by directly visiting the flowers, but is selective and uses discretion, harmonious with flowers and never kills or over consumes||be active, go directly to the sources of knowledge, seek wisdom from all sources but choose the nectar, be gentle, live harmoniously and leave others or other ideologies alone when you must|
|11.||Beekeeper||profits from honeybees||don’t crave for material pleasures or in piling up treasures, neither the body nor material wealth ever lasts|
|12.||Hawk||picks up a large chunk of food, but other birds harass him, when it drops its food other birds leave him alone||take what you need, not more|
|13.||Ocean||lucid at the surface, but deep and undisturbed within; receives numerous rivers yet remains the same||let rivers of sensory input not bother who you are deep inside, know your depths, seek self-knowledge, be unperturbed by life, equipoise|
|14.||Moth||is deceived by its senses, it runs to the fire in misunderstanding which kills it||question your senses, question what others are telling you, question what you see, know senses can deceive, seek reason|
|15.||Elephant||is deceived by his lust, runs after the smell of a possible mate, and falls into a pit made by mahout’s then fettered and used||don’t lust after something or someone, don’t fall into traps of others or of sensory gratification|
|16.||Deer||is deceived by his fear, by hunters who beat drums and scare him into a waiting net||fear not the noise, and do not succumb to pressure others design for you|
|17.||Fish||is deceived by bait and so lured to its death||greed not the crumbs someone places before you, there are plenty of healthy opportunities everywhere|
|18.||Courtesan||exchanges transient pleasure with body, but feels dejected with meaningless life, ultimately moves on||many prostitute their time, self-respect and principles for various reasons but feel dejected with their career and circumstances, seek meaning and spirituality in life, move on to doing things you love to do|
|19.||Child||lives a life of innocent bliss||be a child, curious, innocent, blissful|
|20.||Maiden||she is poor yet tries her best to feed her family and guest, as she cooks she avoids attracting attention to her kitchen and poverty, by breaking all her bangles except one on each wrist||don’t seek attention, a yogi accomplishes and shares more through solitude|
|21.||Snake||lives in whatever hole that comes his way, willingly leaves bad skin and molts||a yogi can live in any place, must be ready to molt old ideas and body for rebirth of his spirit|
|22.||Arrowsmith||the best one was so lost in his work that he failed to notice the king’s procession that passed his way||concentrate on what you love to do, intense concentration is the way to self-realization|
|23.||Spider||builds a beautiful web, destroys and abandons the web, then restarts again||don’t get entangled by your own web, be ready to abandon it, go with your Atman|
|24.||Caterpillar||starts out closed in a tiny nest but ultimately becomes a butterfly||long journeys start small, a disciple starts out as insignificant but ultimately becomes a spiritual master|