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

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Sat Dec 21 01:48:56 CST 2013

17.  Pingala the veshya

In Videha there lived a veshya (prostitute) named Pingala.  Each night she 
would dress in her finest most alluring clothes and ornaments and stand in 
the doorway of her home enticing passing men to come and spend the night 
with her for money and pleasure.  One night many men passed by on the 
street and she watched them thinking "oh this one is rich" and "oh that 
one is handsome" but nobody came to her.  As the hours wore on she became 
more and more depressed and anxious.  Eventually she gave up waiting for a 
lover altogether.  And then she had an epiphany.  She realized she did not 
need the attention of others for happiness and sadness occur within.  From 
then on she decided to live a disciplined and moral life.  And that is the 
lesson Dattatreya learned from her.

18. a vulture

A small vulture found some carrion and rushed away with it, constantly in 
fear that it would be taken away.  Sure enough, a group of larger vultures 
who had no meat of their own came and stole it away from him. 
Unexpectedly the vulture felt relief that he no longer had to worry about 
protecting the carrion.  From this He learned that posessions only make 
one fearful of their loss and it is better to renounce them all.

19. a baby

A baby has no sense of respect or offense. It may laugh or cry or sleep or 
wake but these are all fleeting states which are forgotten as they pass. 
>From this He learned that emotions are transient and, like a baby, a yogi 
should just let them pass over him and be forgotten.

20. a young woman

A girl was of marriagable age and the parents of a suitor were to come and 
visit her.  But they arrived unexpectedly when the girls own parents were 
away.  So she welcomed them herself and quickly went into the kitchen to 
prepare something for them to eat.  As she was grinding the flour, the 
many bangles on her wrists began clashing.  The girl stopped, thinking "By 
hearing this sound, the guests will know I am preparing food myself" [and 
therefore that the family is poor.]  So she removed all but two of the 
bangles and began grinding flour again.  Still their sound could be heard. 
So she took one more off and was able to complete her task in quiet.  From 
her He learned that wherever there are lots of people there will be 
unnecessary talk and gossip.  Even with only two there will be the same. 
It is better to be by oneself and take a vow of silence.

21. an arrowmaker

A certain arrowmaker supplied his weapons for the army of a king.  He 
prided himself on his work and once was so engrossed in it that when the 
king came by he failed to see him let alone salute him.  From him He 
learned that a yogi should meditate with complete one-pointed focus like 
the tip of an arrow.  Only such dhyana leads to the supreme goal.

22. a snake

A snake lives a solitary life, it does not remain in one place, it is 
silent in movement, it does not build any kind of residence but finds 
shelter in whatever cave or hole etc. is available.  From it, He learned 
the code of conduct of a muni.  To live alone, wander from place to place, 
not to engage with other people but pass silently, and to find shelter in 
any place.

23. a spider

A spider secretes raw material from its body and then swallows it again to 
create silk threads which it uses to create elaborate webs.  From it He 
learned that Brahman expands the material universe from itself and as 
Ishvara creates, maintains, and destroys it from His own maya.

24. an insect

There are some species of wasp that can actually trap small insects such 
as aphids and use them as sort of farm animals or even a place to lay 
their eggs.  One such insect was trapped in this manner and out of fear 
began serving the wasp gradually identifying more and more with it until 
eventually it began to think it was a wasp!  From it He learned that 
feelings such as fear or love or lust for power can alter our 
self-identity but knowledge of the true nature of the self only shines 
when such feelings are given up.

Thus Bhagavan Dattatreya, the yogeshwar and avadhuta related his 24 gurus.

Then he added that there is a 25th.

25.  The atma.

Dattatreya said that all these gurus who bestowed their knowledge upon me 
were not external, but only aspects of my own self so it this self, this 
atman which is not different than brahman, immortal and pervading all 
which is the true form of the guru.

At that King Yadu fell at his feet.  Accepting the kings salutations, 
Dattatreya blessed him and continued his wanderings.

Note on the translation:

While I have presented it in third person form "He learned" in the 
Bhagavata itself the narrative is in the first person so read "I learned" 
instead.  So needless to say this is not a literal translation.  Also I 
left out many details so please read it for yourself in the original if 
you can.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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