The path of Dattatreya embraces all spiritual paths and is the source of all other traditions. He who treads the path of Truth, regardless of what religion he belongs to, is treading the path of Dattatreya. As an incarnation of God, Datta came down to spread the universality of true religion. Anyone can be his follower, regardless of cast, creed, status, be they student, householder, recluse or renunciate. No matter what sect or religion the true seeker follows, eventually he comes under the guidance of Lord Dattatreya, the Eternal Spiritual Guide of all mankind.

  Datta's presence is not limited to any one country or sphere, as He is the Guru of all Gurus, the all-seeing, all-powerful, ever-present link between God and Man. However, special places of worship (Datta Peethas) have grown up around sacred areas, where His presence is most strongly felt by the sincere seeker of Datta. These places include Suchindram, Senthamangalam, Mount Girnar, Nagalapuram in Andhra, Prayag, Datta Guha in the Himalayas, Gulbarga -Ganagapura, Narasimhavadi in Maharastra, Quthambara near Poona, Avadumbara, Somapuram, Chandradronagiri and Datta Peetha at Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda Ashrama, Mysore.

  One notable aspect of these Datta Peethas is their indefinable but inseparable relationship with worship of God as Mother, the Supreme Energy -Shakti. (Hence, Sri Swamiji's fierce aspect as Mother Chamunda.) Parasurama (eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu), approached Lord Dattatreya and was initiated into the intricacies of how to worship the Mother (Shreevidya Upaasana), before undertaking intense penance to obtain the grace of the Divine Mother.

  The Saandilya Upanishad declares very clearly that Lord Dattatreya is the Supreme Reality and is the cause of everything that is created. It states, "The Supreme Brahman performed penance which was of the nature of knowledge (jnyana), and desiring to become many, assumed the form of Dattatreya. From that form came out the three letters A, U, M; the three mystical names Bhuh, Bhuvah and Svah; the three-lined Gayatri; the three Vedas Rig, Yajur and Sama; the three Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara; the three castes Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vysya; and the three fires Gaarhapatya, Ashavaneeya and Dakshina."

"The lord is endowed with all wealth. He is all pervading and resides in the hearts of all beings. He is the great Maayavi, sporting with His own Maaya. He is Brahma. His Vishnu, He is Rudra. He is Indra and He is also all the gods of heaven and all other beings. He is East, He is West, He is North, He is South, He is below and He is above. He is everything. This is the glory of the form of Dattatreya."

  Lord Dattatreya came as the Supreme Philosopher (Avadhoota) so that the true meaning and purpose of Sacrifice (Tyaaga) may be revealed to mankind. Atri, His father, symbolizes penance (tapas) as described in the scriptures, and Anasooya represents freedom from jealousy. When penance and non-jealous nature unite in a single person, the highest truth emerges as Lord Dattatreya. As ultimate self-sacrifice, the Supreme God gave Himself as Datta to Atri and Anasooya. Hence, "Datta" means not only "that which is given", but also as the ideal of "giving" without desire for reward, i.e. selfless giving. The whole life of Dattatreya shows us that this "giving" selflessly is the true renunciation/sacrifice. The significance of this sacrifice is stated in the Dattatreya Upanishad where the Lord says, "Not by action, not by progeny, nor even by self, but by renunciation (tyaaga) alone is immortality attained. "Real renunciation is the giving up of "I" and mine, not the mere abandoning of duties. Living a selfless life require giving up one's ego. That is what Lord Dattatreya describes as true sacrifice.

  As a Yoga-Avatar, Lord Dattatreya teaches us to perform all our duties skillfully and diligently. Yoga does not require outside aids, nor does it demand great physical effort. All we have to do is change our outlook and transform our attitude to life. This "change" consist of giving up the idea or feeling of "doership", "enjoyership" and the resultant anxiety (and attachment ) for the fruits of our actions. By performing all our duties with this changed outlook, our mind will be freed from agitation and attain the restful state called "equanimity", or the state where there is no "mind". This is the state of Bliss that every soul ultimately aspires to. This is the state of Datta - the ultimate Gift of God.


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