Avadhuta Dattatreya as an Avatar of distinction

Considered as ‘Dutta’ or awarded by Trimurtis and born to Sage‘Atreya’ and Sati Anasuya, Dattatreya is a combined ‘Avatar’ (Incarnation). He was a mystic Saint Par Excellence called ‘Avadhuta’ or of the eccentric type. The word ‘Ava’ denotes ‘bad materials’ and ‘dhuta’ denotes ‘washed away’ thus meaning that he washed away all bad things.Such a Person is stated to be of Pure consciousness in human form. [Depicted as a Three headed Avatar, representing the Three Gods of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva; the Three ‘Gunas’ of Rajasik, Satvik and Tamasik nature; Three Stages of Concsiousness viz. waking, dreaming and dreamless Sleep; and the Thee Time Capsules of Past, Present and Future, Dattatreya is picturised as seated in meditation along with his Shakti, under a ‘Udumbara’ Tree of fulfillment of desires on a Rock- a Gyana Peetha, along with Four Dogs denoting the Four Vedas.He was considered as the Guru of ‘Ashtanga Yoga’ or the Eight-folded Yoga comprising Yama (Truthfulness and Morality), Niyama (Cleanliness and discipline), Asana (Right Posture), Pranayama (Control of Life Force), Pratyahara (Withdrawal of Senses from Wordly objects and desires), Dharana (Concentration), Dhyana (Meditation) and Samadhi (Alignment of Super Consciousness with Almighty). The main Principles of ‘Dattatreya-following’ are Self-Reailisation and of God, Inter-relation of God-Man and Creation, Overcoming Ego by Yoga and Renonuciation, and Gyana or Enlightenment and the inavitability of a Guru.] Even from the childhood, Dattatreya was full of ‘Vairagya’ (Renunciation), but his followers and admirers were several. He always desired to have privacy, introspection and aloofness and shunned adulation, popularity and proximity. That was why he avoided company and preferred staying indoors. With a view to escape from the attention of Muni Kumars, he meditated on the banks of a Sarovar incognito in disguise for innumerable years. He was inside water practising ‘Ahstanga Yoga’ (Eight Limbed Yoga) and finally emerged with a façade of a being a drunkard, a debauch and a degraded person devoid of morals and social values. He displayed nudity with a youthful and coquettish woman, in obscene poses, while drinking and loose-mannered fashion. Despite these efforts of being corrupt, care-less and licentious, the followers of Dattatreya did not get deterred but made great efforts to get closer to him. As King Kartaveeryarjuna, the thousand armed tyrant who was a great devotee of Dattatreya was killed by Parasurama as the latter’s father the great Sage Jamadagni’s death was avenged, the Ministers and Royal Family members sought to install the Prince Arjun as the King, but he refused as Kingship would lead to violence, lack of mental peace and death. There upon, Sage Garg advised the reluctant Prince to visit Sahyadri Mountain where Mahatma Dattatreya stayed as he was the incarnation of Bhagavan Vishnu and the illustrious son of Sage Atri and Sadhvi Anasuya an outstanding Maha Pativrata. Sage Garg told Prince Arjun that Indra was badly defeated in a battle with ‘Daityas’(Demons) and consulted Deva Guru Brihaspati who replied that Indra should immediately worship and seek an audience with Dattatreya. Indra approached the latter but he said that he was not in a fit condition as he was drunk in the amorous and unclean company of a woman. Being aware of the misleading statement of Dattatreya, Indra replied that just as the powerful and auspicious Sun rays did not become impure by touching either a chandala or a Brahmana, the holy union of Lakshmi and Vishnu could never ever be construed as unclean and unholy! Mahatma Dattatreya smiled since He was only testing Indra’s sincerity. He then asked to challenge the most leading Daityas to a Battle in His presence at His Place; the Daityas assembled (into a trap) and asked to show up in the presence of Maha Lakshmi. The Daityas were mesmerised Devi Lakshmi’s form and face and even forgetting that they were challenged to a fight, became extremely passionate and when she hinted that she would like to leave to her abode, pushed aside her servants and lifted the ‘palki’on their heads. Dattatreya once again smiled and told Indra and Devas that for sure the Daityas would be defeated now as they kept Lakshmi on their head indicating that she would leave them all now. He explained:

Nrunaam paadasthita Lakshminilayam samprapachhyati,
sakthnoscha samsthita vastram ratnam naanaa-vidham vasuh/
Ratnam naana-vidham vasuh/
kalatrada krodhasthapatya Manorathanpuurayati purushaanaam hrudisthithaa/ Lakshmirlakshmivataam sreshthaa kantastha kantha bhushanam,
Abheeshta bandhu daaraischa tatha slesham pravaasibhih/
Mrushtaannam Vaakya laavanya majnaamavitathaam tatha,
Mukhastithaa kavitvam cha yacchhatyu-dadhi sambhavaa/
sirotata samtyajati tathonyam yaatichashrayam,
seyam shirogata daityanaparisthitajaati saampratam/

(Devi Lakshmi when falls on the feet of human beings blesses them with happy homes, falls on either of the thighs bestows clothes and jewellery, on secret place blesses with life-partners, on the lap gives children, on the heart fulfills all the desires, on the neck gives ornaments on the necks, beloved distant relations and good company of women; if Lakshmi falls on the face of human beings she approves attraction and brightness of the visage, accomplishments and a literary outlook. But if Lakshmi falls on one’s head, then she is ready to leave the person concerned.) Thus, Dattatreya advised Devas to take up arms and attack since his vision would further weaken the Demons; also, when the Demons have committed the sin of becoming highly passionate over another person’s wife, their strength would get diluted. Devas attack over the Demons was readily succsessful and Indra regained his Throne in Swarga Loka. Sage Garg advised Prince Arjun, the son of Kartaveeryarjuna to pray to Dattatreya who gave the Prince considerable confidence and courage to face the institution of Kingship boldly.


Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham

Kamakoti.org presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at [email protected]