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Story of Sri Guru Dattatreya

Courtesy: Google Images
As per Hindu Puranas (ancient scriptures), Atri is one of the Saptarishis i.e the seven eternal sages that illuminate the night sky as the seven stars in the Great Bear. Atri is believed to be one of the ten sons of Lord Brahma - the Creator and the first in the Saptarishis. The ten sons who are created by Brahma by his will are known as Brahma Maanasa-putras i.e the sons of Brahma that are generated from His mind.

Anasuya (In Sanskrit 'an' (pronounced as 'un') means 'devoid of' and 'asuya' means 'hatred', so Anasuya means the one who is devoid of hatred). Anasuya is the daughter of Kardama Prajapati and wife of Atri Maharishi. She is an embodiment of chastity and is considered as Maha Pativrata i.e the one who is completely devoted to her husband by heart, soul and mind. The divine Trinity viz. Brahma - the Creator, Lord Vishnu - the Preserver and Maheswara or Lord Shiva - the Destroyer, once descended on Earth in the form of hermits and visit the hermitage of Atri Mahamuni in order to test the chastity of Anasuya.

They beg alms at the Aashram when Atri Mahamuni is not in the hermitage. Anasuya gives them a grand reception and good hospitality. When she is about to serve them food, they put forth their strange request. They refuse to take alms if she refuses their request. And the request was, they wanted Anasuya to serve food without clothes on her body. To this strange request, the great lady could immediately guess that the three hermits are none other than the Divine Trinity who came to test her. She agrees to fulfill their request and mentally she bows down to her husband. She takes a handful of holy water and sprinkles on the three hermits. And lo! The Holy Trinity transform into infants by the power of Anasuya. She feeds them milk as per their request without clothes on her body and with a motherly feeling.

On getting to know the plight of their husbands, the three goddesses rush to Atri's hermitage and request Anasuya to transform the Divine Trinity back to their original forms. They bow down to Anasuya on restoring their original forms. The gods bestow the couple with a boon who request the Holy Trinity to be their children. With their powers packed together, they form one powerful being and offer this powerful being to Atri and Anasuya, As the Holy Trinity have given themselves to the couple in the form of son, the powerful form / being is named as Datta which means 'the one who has been given'. The child is also known by the name Aatreya i.e the son of Atri and thus he earned fame in the name of Dattatreya who is the embodiment of knowledge. He is considered as the teacher of the highest essence of Indian (Hindu) thought and thus he came to be known as the Guru of Gurus / teacher of teachers. He is known by the names Guru Dattatreya or Sri Gurudatta.

For the welfare of the mankind / society and to redeem people from their sufferings, Sri Gurudatta incarnated himself as Sripada Srivallabha in Kaliyuga, in His second incarnation He is known as Sri Nrusimha Saraswati, His 3rd incarnation is Manikya Prabhu, 4th incarnation is Akkalkot Maharaj and Shri Shirdi Sai Baba in the early 19th century is believed to be His 5th incarnation.
Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu Guru Devo Maheswarah
Guru Sakshat Param Brahma Tasmai Sri Gurave Namah

Guru Dattatreya is the synthesis of the Divine Trinity. He is the Divine Guru of the human world. Sri Gurudatta is known as Trisira i.e the one with Three Heads. He is always accompanied with four dogs which represent the four Vedic Texts viz. Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. These 4 dogs also signify the 4 Yugas viz. Krita / Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapara Yuga and Kali Yuga.

Guru Dattatreya is also seen accompanied with a pure white cow which is protected behind the Guru. The cow symbolizes creation and also Earth that offers innumerable wealth in different forms. The Divine Guru is portrayed with 6 hands and is seen holding a Sankha (conch) in one hand, a Chakra (Divine Disc) in the other hand, a Gada (mace) in the 3rd hand, a Trisul (trident) in the 4th hand, a Kamandalam (water carrier) in the 5th hand and a bowl in the 6th hand. He has an ever-smiling face with blissful looks that shower blessing on the entire creation. He is the true Teacher of the World who is compassionate towards his creation. He is mostly seated under the Audumbar Vriksha (Peepal tree. Botanical name: Ficus religiosa). He is believed to reside in Sahayadri Mountains and keeps traveling around the country for performing various activities.

Sri Siddhamangala Stotram is an effective Dattatreya Mantra of Sripada Srivallabheswara Swamy who is believed to be the first incarnation of the 5 incarnations of Sri Gurudatta.

Margasira Purnima (full moon day in the Hindu month of Margasiram is celebrated as Datta Jayanti i.e. birthday of Sri Gurudatta.

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