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Lord Dattatreya

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About Dattatreya

Dattatreya is a unified form of the supreme Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and hence, is the repository of their combined divinity. He was born as the son of the great sage Atri and his devout consort, Anusuya. Datta means ‘to give’ or ‘given’ and ‘athreya’ stands for, ‘Atri’s son’. As the three supreme Gods combined and gave themselves to Atri as his son, he is called Dattatreya. He is a simple monk, who looks unique, with three heads and 6 arms. He is seen holding the rosary and water pot, the conch and discus, and the trident and drum in his hands, thus representing all the three Gods. He is usually seen in the company of four dogs and a cow.

Significance of Dattatreya

Dattatreya is the embodiment of wisdom. Even though he is essentially a wandering monk, the sacred Audumber tree is considered as his special abode. His form itself is profound in its meaning. His body is smeared with ashes, indicating, purity, detachment and dispassion. The trident he holds is a symbol of his transcending the illusory world; Chakra, the discus, denotes salvation; the conch, the eternal sound AUM and the rosary he has, signifies meditation. Also, the accompanying dogs symbolize the four Vedas and also the four Yugas, the epochs, while the holy cow denotes mother Earth and also abundance.

Dattatreya, also known as Datta, is an incarnation of the almighty and is believed to have descended on Earth, on the Poornima full Moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Margashirsha (December-January) and that sacred day is observed as Dattatreya Jayanthi.

Mythology associated with Lord Dattatreya

There are many legends associated with Dattatreya. As per one of them, once, the trinity of Goddesses Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvathi wanted to test the chastity of the highly virtuous Anusuya, and on their request, their consorts, the three supreme Gods appeared before sage Anusuya disguising themselves as ascetics. They asked her to give alms to them, by remaining naked. The noble woman was shocked at first. But soon, realizing their true identities and understanding their intentions, she used her great spiritual powers and simply transformed the supreme Gods into innocent babies! Now she fed the babies naked as per their demand, without any sense of shame or guilt.


Realizing the power of her impeccable chastity, the three Goddesses appeared before her and eulogized her. Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva too reverted to their true forms, and blessed her and sage Atri, with a divine child. Thus Dattatreya was born to them, as an incarnation of the combined godliness of the three great Gods. This realized soul, who is believed to be an historical entity, lived a saintly life as a wandering monk, inspiring and guiding people towards a spiritual life.

Though Dattatreya is an amalgamation of all the three supreme deities, he is specially considered an Avatar of Lord Vishnu.

Dattatreya worship

People in large numbers offer prayers to Dattatreya and recite from sacred works like Avadhuta Gita, Jivanmuktha Gita, Datta Prabodh and Datta Mahatmya, which contain stories of his life and teachings. There are also many Dattatreya temples all over the country, especially in Maharashtra, which people visit and offer worship. They also sing bhajans in his praise. Further, saints like Narasimha Saraswathi and Shirdi Saibaba are considered his incarnations and prayers are offered to them too. Dattatreya Jayanthi, his day of advent is also observed with great piety by the devout throughout the country. Guests are also treated as embodiments of Dattatreya and are duly honoured. Datta is regarded as Adiguru, a very ancient teacher and it is believed that his worship will bless one with supreme knowledge, sound intelligence and divine wisdom. It will also help to diffuse karma.

To Participate

The sacred scriptures prescribe fire ceremony, Abishekam (hydration ceremony), Pooja/Archana (Light and Sound ceremony), Yantra and Mantra (special sounds) as the ways to offer your prayer to the divine. Out of these, fire ceremony is the most evolved spiritual technology on earth to connect with the divine beings. Participate in the remedial services to clear your karma and receive the blessings.