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The most fundamental of Hindu deities, is the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - popular deities include Ganesha, Krishna, Hanuman and goddesses like Lakshmi, Durga,Saraswati.

The story of lord dattatreya


Among the many current legends concerning the manifestation of the Supreme as Dattatreya, three are worthy of notice. The first version is taken from SrimadBhagavata. According to the Bhagavata, the sage Atri performed severe penance in order to have a son. His goal for his son was to achieve and maintain world order. The Lord Himself who promised to fulfill his wish was born as Atri's son.

The second version is a story passed down from generation to generation. A long time ago, there lived a couple in Pratishthanagar (modem Paithana) in Maharashtra State. The husband's name was Kausika and the wife's Sumati. Sumati was very devoted to her husband and extremely virtuous. However, Kausika led an immoral life and eventually deserted his wife. He became a victim to many deadly diseases, and with none to care for him, he finally came back to his wife who received him with love and devotion. Forgiving his faults, she treated him with compassion and began to attend to his wounds - physical as well as mental.

One night, carrying her ailing husband on her shoulders, Sumati was walking along the highway and came to a p ocent sage called Maandavya had been unjustly hanged on the gallows. By using his yogic power, the sage had retained life in his body which was still swinging to and fro. Owing to the faded light, Sumati did not see the swaying body of the sage and was walking by when, unwittingly, her husband's leg brushed against the sage's body and caused the sage excruciating pain. The sage, already hard pressed, lost his temper and swore that the person who had caused him such severe agony, would die as soon as the sun rose. The virtuous and devout Sumati, on hearing this, could not bear even the thought of her husband's coming death. So she pronounced a counter-curse. Said she:

"O Sun-god, do not rise at all tomorrow. If you disregard my words, you will be burnt and fall from the sky." No power on earth can render ineffective the curse pronounced by a virtuous and devoted wife.

The Saastra declares:

"That power which men attain by practicing Yoga, will be obtained by women of respectable family merely by their chastity and moral excellence."

The Sun-god did not rise and there was widespread sorrow in the world. No ritual could be conducted; no duty could be performed. Scared, the gods approached Brahma (the Creator) for assistance, but He said He was helpless. Taking the gods with him, Brahma went to Atri's Ashram and entreated Anasooya to save the world, as in his opinion, she alone possessed power to do so.

Atri and Anasooya, accompanied by Brahma and the gods, went to Sumati's house and implored her to withdraw her curse. But Sumati refused because she feared her husband would die the moment the sun rose. Anasooya assured Sumati that she would bring her husband back to life by her power. So, Sumati revoked her curse and the sun rose immediately. But with the rising sun, Kausika fell dead. Anasooya, by virtue of her power, brought him back o life. All were happy.

Gods, out of gratitude were eager to bestow on Anasooya a boon. She desired the "Trinity" to become her children. Her wish was instantly fulfilled. Brahma was born as Chandra (moon), Vishnu as Datta and Shiva as Durvaasa. After some time, with the consent of Anasooya, Chandra left to take his position in the sky, and Durvaasa departed to do penance. Datta remained with his parents. However, before leaving, Chandra and Durvaasa endowed Datta with their powers. Therefore, Dattatreya is conceived as "three in one" and depicted as having three faces and six hands.
The third version comes from the Puraanas. The Puraanic version of the incarnation of Dattatreya is very similar to the story passed down through generations. Having heard from Naarada about the greatness of Anasooya's fidelity and chastity, the three goddesses, Vaani (Brahma!s spouse), Lakshmi (consort of Vishnu) and Uma (spouse of Siva), were filled with jealousy and sent their husbands to test the chastity of Anasooya.

The three gods, responsible respectively for the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the world, came to Anasooya disguised as holy men and begged for food. Anasooya gladly made them sit, but they demanded that she serve them without wearing any clothes. As a result, Anasooya took the holy water from her husband's water pot, sprinkled it on them and transformed them into babies. Then, without clothes, she nurtured and nourished them as her own children.

When their husbands did not return for quite a long time, the goddesses became anxious and apprehensive, and went directly to Atri's ashram. They were shocked to see the condition of their husbands. Their jealousy vanished and they understood the greatness of Anasooya. The penitent goddesses begged Anasooya to forgive them and restore their husbands to them. Compassionate Anasooya transformed the babies into their original form and gave them back to their wives. The three gods, who had basked in the sunshine of Anasooya's matemal affection, while departing, voluntarily expressed their intention to be with her in another form.

Accordingly, Brahma became Chandra, Vishnu became Datta and Siva became Durvaasa. All three were born in one united form on the fourteenth day of the bright half of the month of Maargasira, the ninth month of the lunar year. This day is being observed as the birthday of Dattatreya even now.

According to the popular Gurucharitra written by Sri Gangadhara Saraswati, out of the infinite incarnations of Dattatreya, two which took place in the fourteenth century are worthy of mentioning. The first manifestation was as Sreepadavallabha. He was born to Brahmin parents Appalaraja and Sumati in the year 1320 AD in the town of Pitapura in Andhra Pradesh. He left home at the age of sixteen, and living in Kuruvapura, a small island in the River Krishna, blessed devotees for some time and disappeared in 1350 AD.

The second manifestation was as Sri Swami Narasimha Saraswati. He was born to fulfill a promise given by Sreepada Sreevallabha to His mother. Narahari, as He was known at first, was born in 1380 in the small town of Karanjanagar. Until He was seven years old, Narahari remained dumb, but when His sacred thread ceremony was performed and His mother offered him food thrice as enjoined by the scriptures, Narahari recited the three Vedas, one for each meal.

Narahari granted to His mother the memory of her previous birth and after two more sons were born to her, He left for Vaaranasi and took His holy vows from the aged Swami Krishna Saraswathi who bestowed on Him the name Narasimha Saraswati. After touring north India on foot, Swami Narasimha Saraswati came South and lived for twenty years in Gapura, a place near Gulbarga in Karnataka, and blessed innumerable devotees. Saraswati was adored and worshipped by many different people of all religions. It is believed that He disappeared in Sreesaila leaving His sacred sandals to Ganagaapura. Apart from these two histrocial incarnations, Dattatreya manifested Himself in sixteen other forms at other times. They are:

Visvambaraavadhoota, Maayamuktaavadhoota, Dattavadhoota, Aadigurunaamaka, Samskasheenasivaroopa, Devadeva, Dattadigambara, Syaamakamalalochana, Yogiraja, Atrivarada, Digambara, Yogiraajavallabha, Kaalaagnisamana, Leelavisvambhara, Siddharajanamaka, and Jnanasagara

By worshiping only Dattatreya, absolute knowledge of the self will set in. On the other hand, by worshiping Dattatreya along with Anagha, even the worldly difficulties will be removed and eventually Atma Jnana will set in. In Kaliyuga, human beings can achieve wisdom only in an unhurried pace. Therefore, Lord Dattatreya himself preached the method of worshiping Anagha.

The story of the thousand-armed Kartaveeryarjuna in Datta Darshana is highly symbolic. He was one of the favorite disciples of Lord Dattatreya. Dattatreya Himself taught him the method of performing Anaghashtami Pooia. Kartaveerya got his boons on the eighth day of the dark half of the month of Margashira. Lord Dattatreya has himself marked this day to be auspicious for conducting the Anaghashtami Pooja. He has further ordained that this pooja be performed every month on the eighth day of the dark- fortnight. Bhagavan Vyasa has narrated the method of worship in the Puranas. But on account of the vicissitudes of time, it slowly became less and less practice--so much so that questions like "What? A woman sitting by the side of Datta?" are being asked.

Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji, who is verily Dattatreya in disguise has been spreading the multifaceted aspects of Dattatreya throughout the world. In fact no other person has carried out such an extensive propagation of Dattatreya and His teachings. Sri Swamiji is also exposing the concept of worshiping Anagha Devi along with Dattatreya and to facilitate it, has established several temples in which both the deities have been consecrated. It is as though the philosophies of yore, are being re-taught by Lord Dattatreya Himself. It is therefore highly beneficial for seekers to adopt this path in their spiritual pursuit.




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