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Dattatreya is considered by Hindus to be god who is an incarnation of the Divine Trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The word Datta means "Given", Datta is called so because the divine trinity have "given" themselves in the form of a son to the sage couple Atri and Anasuya. He is the son of Atri, hence the name "Atreya."

When Sage Atri (literally meaning without three, i.e. without the three gunas (Satva, Rajas and Tamas) did a great penance to the Nirguna ParaBrahma, the Trinity of Hinduism (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva) appeared to Him and explained to Sage Atri that the Nirgun aspect cannot be seen and hence they (the Sagun aspect of the Nirgun) appeared to him. They gave him a boon that he will get a child with their amsas combined. In due course of time, three children, Chandra, Datta and Durvcasa were born to Atri and his wife par excellence (Pativrata) Anasuya (literally meaning without jealousy). Chandra gave His attributes of Brahma and Durvasa gave His attributes of Siva to Datta, Who was born with the Satvik attributes of Sri Vishnu. Thus Datta became One with the Three aspects of ParaBrahma and became the Adi Guru (First Guru) for mankind. Since He is the son of Atri, He is also called Dattatreya. Datta means One Who has offered himself. Since God offered Himself to Atri, Dattatreya represents the Trimurthy, the Trinity. Om Dram Dattatreyaya Namah is the mantra. The four dogs in the picture are the four Vedas. Sri Datta Puran and Sri Guru Charitra are the main sources to know more about this great God, Guru and Yogi.

In the Nath tradition, Dattatreya is recognized as an Avatar or incarnation of the Lord Shiva and as the Adi-Guru (First Teacher) of the Adinath Sampradaya of the Nathas. Although Dattatreya was at first a "Lord of Yoga" exhibiting distinctly Tantric traits, he was adapted and assimilated into the more devotional (bhakti) Vaishnavite cults; while still worshiped by millions of Hindus, he is approached more as a benevolent god than as a teacher of the highest essence of Indian thought.

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