Celebrate Datta Jayanti by trying to develop a learning attitude like Deity Datta

Datta Jayanti falls on Margashirsh Shukla paksha Chaturdashi (The 14th day of the bright fortnight in the Hindu lunar month of Margashirsh) (16.12.2013) Friends, worshipping Deity Datta means always trying to learn from everything in this world, whether living or non-living, just like Dattatreya did. On this occasion of Datta Jayanti let us learn some spiritual facts about Deity Datta.

1. Datta’s Name and its meaning

1 A. Datta : Datta means the one who gives us the spiritual experience that ‘I am the soul’. Every being has a soul in it; that is why every being is able to walk, talk, laugh. Thus, it gives us the feeling that the same ‘God resides in us’. Without Him, we do not have any identity. When we realise this truth, we will be able to feel affection for everyone. This Datta Jayanti, let us resolve to awaken this realisation of truth.

1 B. Avadhoot :‘Avadhoot’ means the one who washes away our ego. We get so much stressed while studying. In reality, it is God who endows us with the intellect and energy to study. However, since we are under the false impression that, ‘It is I who studies‘, we get stressed. This ‘I’ is our ego. On this Datta Jayanti, let us pray, “O Dattatreya, grace me with the energy and intellect to eliminate my ego.”

1 C. Digambar : ‘Dig’ means direction, ‘ambar’ means cloth. Digambar is the one who is omnipresent, that is, covers all directions. Ordinary souls like us should surrender at the Holy feet of such a great Deity. Only then will we be graced by Him. Let us pray, ‘O Dattatreya, please teach us how to surrender at your Holy feet.’

2. Birth

2 A. Deities Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh asking Anusuya to serve food without wearing any clothes,to test her chastity : Anusuya, the wife of Sage Atri, was a very chaste woman. She always used to behave in a righteous and ideal manner. When the Deities Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh learnt about this righteous lady, they decided to test her chastity. They went to Anusuya’s house in the guise of guests. As Sage Atri had gone out for meditation, Anusuya said to the guests, “Please wait for my husband to return. I shall serve food to all of you as soon as He returns.” However, they refused to wait and told Anusuya, “We shall not wait till then. We want food to be served immediately. We have heard that any guest who comes to you never leaves with an empty stomach. But, there is one condition. You must serve food without wearing any clothing on your body.”

2 B. Anusuya harbouring the bhav (spiritual emotion) that these three guests are my small children :Anusuya was the one who considered her husband as God. She thought, ‘I am pure at heart. I don’t have any ill feelings in my mind.’ Then she closed her eyes and thought about her husband for awhile. Then, she went out with the bhav (spiritual emotion) that, ‘These three guests are my small children’. As soon as she kept this bhav, the three of them were actually transformed into small children, how did this happen? Anusuya considered her husband as God. She did not have any bad feelings or thoughts in her mind about any man. Her thoughts were pure. That is why Deities Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh were transformed into small children. Then, Anusuya took those small children in her arms and nursed them.

2 C. The three Deities telling Anusuya and Sage Atri to ask for a boon : When Sage Atri returned to his hermitage, his eyes fell on those three radiant children. Anusuya narrated the entire story to her husband. On hearing the story, Sage Atri immediately recognized who these three children are.The Deities Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh appeared before them and told them to ask for a boon.On this, Sage Atri and Anusuya said, “Let these three children be with us.” The Deities granted them this boon and returned to their abodes. Thus, Anusuya got three children. ‘Chandra’ from Deity Brahma, ‘Datta’ from Vishnu and ‘Durvas’ from Mahesh.Of these, Chandra and Durvas left to perform penance. Datta stayed on earth to fulfill the task of Shri Vishnu. In this way, Deity Datta was born.From this we learn that God is capable of doing anything for His devotees. He manifested from a pillar for devotee Pralhad, ground flour for devotee Janabai. If we harbour intense devotion unto God, if God gets pleased with us, He might manifest before us too. This happened in case of Anusuya too. From today, we too will try to become the favourite devotee of God.

3. Datta’s task

As Datta is an incarnation of Shri Vishnu, his task is preservation of the universe, creating intense yearning and devotion for God among people and teaching people to live an ideal and blissful life.

4. The 24 Gurus of Datta

Deity Datta made 24 Gurus. From this, Datta teaches us that one must constantly be in a state of learning. Only the one who is always in a state of learning is able to acquire knowledge. On this Datta Jayanti, we shall resolve to stay constantly in a learning mode and thus live a blissful life.Now, let us learn about some of the Gurus of Deity Datta.

4 A. Earth : We must become tolerant like the earth. When a small child sits on its mother’s lap, it kicks her, soils her clothes, but the mother never gets angry. Similarly, we throw so much garbage on mother earth, dig it up, plough it; but it never grumbles. Instead, it turns the seeds sown by us into a large quantity of grains.

In the same way, when someone hurts us or insults us, we should not get angry with them;instead we should forgive them and behave lovingly with them. By trying to learn this virtue of mother earth we can spread love and happiness to others.

4 B. Air : Wherever the air blows, it retains its distinctive character. However, when we go in the company of evil people, we immediately become like them. Like the air, we too should learn to retain our individuality, and the company of evil people must not affect our good character.

4 C. Sky : The sky behaves equally with everyone. It does not distinguish among people. Since it has no enemies, it is pure. We too should try to become pure at heart.

4 D. Water : We must behave with affection with everyone, like water. Water does not differentiate between people. It behaves equally with everyone. Water acquires the shape of the vessel in which it is kept. Similarly, we too should be ready to mould and adjust ourselves according to others’needs. Another point that is to be learnt from water is that, water sacrifices the higher position while flowing and flows from a higher to a lower level. Similarly, we too should give up our ego and surrender.

4 E. Fire : Fire eliminates darkness. We too should eliminate the darkness, which is within us in the form of ego. By doing this, we shall be able to make our life as well as society happy. Aflame can be extinguished instantly. Our body is similar to the flame, that is, it can be destroyed within a second. Thus, instead of harbouring false pride about this material body, one should accept the existence of God. The body which is there right now, might not exist the next moment. However,the soul is immortal and shall continue to exist infinitely.

4 F. Moon : The moon provides happiness to everyone through the medium of its cool rays. Similarly,we too should always try to spread happiness to others. For this, let us pray to Deity Datta, ‘O Dattatreya, help me spread happiness to others through my actions and speech. Please forgive me ifI have ever hurt anyone through my actions.’

4 G. Sun : The sun provides light and warmth to everyone equally.

4 H. A python : A python relies fully on destiny. It eats whatever it gets. It has no complaint for sweet or bitter. We should learn from this and be happy and contented with whatever we have.

4 I. Sea : The sea gladly accepts whatever amount of water the rivers bring to it. It does not get sad if it receives lesser amount of water, nor does it get happier when it is more. We should learn this virtue from the sea. We must neither get disturbed by problems nor get excited during happy times. We must learn to be stable and peaceful in any situation.

4 J. A child : A child never expects to be inquired after or respect from anyone. It is cheerful all the time. Similarly, we must not expect respect or attention from others and remain cheerful in any situation.

4 K. Tree : A tree is always benevolent to us. It provides us shade, fruits and flowers, but never expects anything in return. If we wish to lead a happy life, we too should do all deeds without any expectations.

5. Implied meaning of Datta’s family

5 A. Cow : The cow behind Deity Datta symbolises the earth and Kamdhenu (Divine wish-fulfilling cow). Kamdhenu gives us whatever we desire. Similarly, the earth and cow too give us everything we need.

5 B. Four dogs : The 4 dogs symbolise the 4 Vedas – Rugved, Yajurved, Samved and Atharvaved.

5 C. Audumbar tree : Audumbar tree (Fig tree) is the revered form of Deity Datta. This tree has high proportion of Datta tattva (principle).

6. Spiritual significance of Datta’s idol

The spiritual significance of the various objects in Datta’s idol is given below.

6 A. Kamandalu ( A water pot used by an ascetic) and Japmala (Chanting beads) : They are a symbol of Deity Brahma.

6 B. Conch and Chakra : They are a symbol of Shri Vishnu.

6 C. Trishul and Damru : The Trishul (Trident) and Damru (An hourglass shaped drum) are a symbol

6 D. The cloth bag : The cloth bag on Datta’s shoulder symbolises ‘elimination of ego’. Wandering from door to door asking for alms destroys the ego.

7. Holy places of worship

7 A. Mahur : Located in the town of Kinvat, District Nanded, Maharashtra.

7 B. Girnar : Near the city of Junagadh, Saurashtra, Gujarat. One has to climb ten thousand steps to

7 C. Karanja : The birthplace of the Saint, Shri Nrusinh Saraswati. Brahmanand Saraswati of Kashi wasthe first one to build the temple of Deity Datta at this place.

7 D. Audumbar : Shri Nrusinh Saraswati had stayed here during Chaturmaas (The period of 4 auspicious months of the Hindu lunar almanac, i.e. the months of Ashadh, Shravan, Bhadrapad and Ashwin). This place is located on the banks of the river Krushna, 10 kilometres away from the village of Bhilvadi in Maharashtra.

7 E. Narsobachi vaadi : Shri Nrusinh Saraswati had resided here for 12 years. It is located in the state of Maharashtra, at the place of confluence of the rivers Krushna and Panchganga.

7 F. Gangapur : It is located in the state of Karanataka on the Pune-Raichur Road, at the place of confluence of the rivers Bhima and Amarja. Shri Nrusinh Saraswati had resided here for 23 years.

8. Visit Holy places instead of picnic spots during holidays

All the Holy pilgrimage places of Deity Datta are spiritually lively. Instead of going to places like hill stations for a picnic, we should spend our holidays by visiting these Holy places. By visiting these Holy places, we are benefited by the Chaitanya (Divine Consciousness) and Divine energy present at these places. Many people have had positive experiences like feeling peaceful, increase in concentration of mind, feeling enthusiastic, etc. by visiting these places.

9. How to worship the idol of Deity Datta ?

9 A. Gandha (sandalwood paste) : With the ring finger, apply gandha to the idol of Datta.

9 B. Flowers : Offer jasmine and tuberose flowers, seven or in multiples of seven.

9 C. Incense sticks : Incense sticks of Sandalwood, Kevada (screwpine), Jasmine or Ambar fragrance

9 D. Perfume : Offer perfume of “Vala” fragrance to the Deity Datta.

9 E. Pradakshina (Circumambulation) : One should do 7 pradakshinas around the idol of Deity Datta.

10. Try to learn the spiritual facts about every
Deity and spread the knowledge amongst others too

Friends, today we learnt the spiritual facts about Deity Datta. From this, we have understood how important it is to acquire education about Dharma. Since we are not given education about our Deities in school, our faith in Deities does not develop. Also, if we are asked something about our Deities or Dharma we are unable to answer, as we do not have the correct knowledge about it.We must change this situation. For this, we must try to learn the scriptural facts and spiritual importance about every Deity. Once we acquire knowledge about a particular Deity, we can share it with our friends as well. Deity Datta will be pleased to see this.

So children, let us resolve to spread the knowledge about our Dharma in society.

– Shri. Rajendra Pavaskar (Guruji), Panvel.