[Advaita-l] 24 Gurus of Bhagavan Dattatreya - I

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Dec 19 00:32:31 CST 2013

Dattatreya is the avatara of all the trimurti, born at the prayer of 
Maharshi Atri.  He is the founder of the avadhuta marga of jnanis.  The 
recent Margashirsha Purnima is also Dattatreya Jayanti.  It is a big day 
in my wifes family as they were followers of the famous 20th century Saint 
Ranga Avadhuta who did much to popularize the worship of Dattatreya in 
Gujarat.  My wife recites a Gujarati stotra called Datta Bavani (Bavani = 
52 verses) composed by Ranga Avadhuta every day.

In Bhagavata Purana 11.7-9, Dattatreya tells Raja Yadu about his 24 
unusual gurus.  I shall present them 8 at a time.

1. The Earth

The Earth is disrespectfully trodden on by all creatures but bears them 
all without complaint.  So from Her, He learned to accept all of lifes 
pleasures and pains with forbearance.

2. The Wind

Wind is of two types, prANa refers to the internal life forces and vAyu 
refers to the external movement of air.  prANa is in all bodies but takes 
on the shape and form of the particular body it is in.  vAyu passes 
everywhere but does not remain in one place.  So from prAna and vAyu He 
learned to avoid attachment to any place but to adapt to wherever He might 
find himself.

3. AkAsha

AkAsha is one and all-pervading.  From it He learnt that brAhman is one 
and all-pervading.

4.  Water

Water in the form of a tirth, purifies and sanctifies.  From it He learnt 
to be a a source of purity and sanctity.

5. Fire

Fire burns things leaving only their essence. From it He learnt that a 
yogi should see in beings not all the false opposites like rich-poor, 
old-young, high-low, but only the Atma which is the essence.

6. Moon

The one and same moon appears to go though changes, waxing, waning etc. 
>From Him He learnt that the one atman only appears to go through changes 
such as birth and death.

7. Sun

The Sun through most of the year draws up moisture but during the monsoon 
the weather cycle results in all that moisture being released as rain. 
Thus all the living this are nourished.  So from Him He learned to gather 
up all the energy normally dissipated in the body due to avidya and expend 
it in tapas which leads to jnana.

8. a kapoTa bird

The kapoTa is a kind of bird like a pigeon.  It only has one mate which it 
pairs with for life.  Once in a forest there was a kapoTa who built a nest 
together with a female of the species.  For years they lived together, 
laughing and having fun in each others company.  The female kapoTa laid 
eggs that hatched into babies who were their parents pride and joy.  Once, 
when the pair were out to find food for their children, a hunter came by 
and snared the chirping young ones in his net.  The parents returned at 
that moment and seeing the fate of her offspring, the mother rushed 
towards them only to be caught herself.  Seeing this the father bird began 
to reflect.  "I had the perfect life with all material conforts and a 
loving family.  Now it is all gone so what is the point of living?" 
Despondent and unaware, he didn't notice the hunter coming after him until 
it was too late and he too was caught.  From this Dattatreya learned that 
although pleasure is found in this world, it is transient and ends in 
pain.  So it is better to renounce it.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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