Lord Dattatreya, Puja & Datta Yagam at Ganagapur Temple
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Birth of Sri Dattatreya

Sri Dattatreya Avatara

The name Dattatreya is actually derived from the Sanskrit words “Datta” which means ‘One who is Given’ & “Atreya” indicating ‘Son of Atri Rishi’. He is called the Lord of Yoga & is considered the Adhi Devata for Yoga Marga. Datta Guru is also referred to as ‘Avadhuta’ meaning the destroyer of the 3 Gunas namely Sattva, Rajas & Tamas. He is considered as Adi Guru who helps his devotees to cross the Samsara Sagara. He is believed to wander in search of his devotees that’s why the Vedas affirm that a guest (Athithi) is veritably the very embodiment of Lord Dattatreya. This may also be another reason behind Tradition of Madhukari Bhiksha Annadanam that is followed since 600 Years at Ganagapur Kshetra, wherein all devotees visiting the Kshetra are served Bhiksha Prasad at Noon 12. He is regarded as one the most ancient deities with references even in the Ramayana & Mahabharata. The Atharva Veda has a section called ‘Dattatreya Upanishad’ which describes him as taking any form like that of a Bala (child), Unmatta (mad man) or Pischacha (Spirit) to help his devotees attain Moksha (liberation).
In the Puranas, Dattatreya is depicted as an Avatar of Bhagavan Vishnu while the Nath Sampradaya considers him as an Avatar of Bhagavan Shiva. Sri Dattatreya is always depicted as holding Kamandalu and Japa Mala (representing Lord Brahma), Shanka and Chakra (represents Lord Vishnu), Damaru and Trishula (represents Lord Shiva). The Cow behind represents Kamadhenu , Four Dogs represents 4 Vedas and Audumbar in itself represents Datta Tattva.

Birth Story of Lord Dattatreya

Lord Dattatreya incarnated into this world as progeny of Sri Atri Maharshi and Mata Anasuya, a sage couple of the Vedic period. Mata Anasuya was quite famous for her adherence to Pativruta Dharma. She was very embodiment of chastity and by this she had great Spiritual Power which induced fear and envy even in Devatas. The three Gods decided to prove to the world the Great Chastity of Mata Anasuya. They transformed themselves into wandering Ascetics, approached the Ashrama of Atri Maharshi and begged for alms. Meanwhile Sage Atri was away at the river for Nitya Anushtana. Anusuya came out and offered food to them. Strangely they asked her to serve the food in nude. In our tradition any 'Athithi' cannot be turned away, as they are considered to be embodiment of God. Hence she was placed in a dilemma. She smiled and thought “I am purified totally by the long association with the Holy Sage Atri. Kama Dev cannot harm in any way? So I need not fear. As they have sought food from me, I look upon them as my own children and not as grown up men” Due to the power of the Holy and Chaste wife , the elderly guests were instantly transformed into babies. Sage Atri returned to his Ashrama and saw his wife Anasuya fondling three babies. Anusuya said "These 3 children are the Gods gift to us who have been childless till now". Atri Rishi was overjoyed and realized the Truth by power of his Tapas. The three Gods reverted to their real forms and disclosed the truth. They praised the power of Chastity and Purity of Anasuya which made even the trinities transform into babies. Sage Atri on behest of Mata Anusuya prayed that they should continue to remain as their sons. The 3 Gods consented and came to be known as Soma, Datta and Durvasa. This is how Shri Dattatreya incarnated and became Adi Guru to whole world.
Sri Dattatreya
Sri Dattatreya had 24 Gurus which included the Universe and its creations. As mentioned in the 11th Skanda of the Bhagvad Purana where Krishna narrates to Uddhava ( Uddhava Geeta) the conversation between Avadhuta Dattatreya and Prince Yadu, son of King Yayati, they are- earth, air/breeze, sky, fire, the sun, pigeon, python, sea, moth, elephant, ant, fish, Pingala the courtesan, arrow-maker, infant/playful boy, the moon, honeybee, deer, bird of prey, maiden, serpent, spider, caterpillar and water. Lord Dattatreya taught Ashtanga Yoga (eight fold path of Yoga) to the world thousands of years ago which was later compiled by Sri Patanjali in the form of Yoga Sutras. It consists of 8 steps viz., Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Shri Dattatreya is glorified by Chanting of Sri Gurudeva Datta or Digambara Digambara Shripada Vallabha Digambara . Sri Dattatreya is worshipped in the form of Padukas as can be seen in all Datta Kshetras like Ganagapur, Girnar, Mahur, Audumbar, Peethapuram, Narsobawadi, Kurwapur etc. The Holy Audumbar Tree is always blessed with Lord Dattatreya’s Presence. Sri Dattatreya can also be worshipped by way of Guruwara Vruta (By way of Fasting, Visiting Datta Temple), Satya Datta Puja (a vruta similar to that of Satya Narayan), Chanting of Sri Datta Mala Mantra or by way of Datta Yaga Homam etc

Sri Dattatreya is said to have assumed numerous Incarnations in order to teach the Mankind and help the devotees attain liberation. According to the book Shri Dattatreya Shodashavataraha by Sri Vasudevanand Saraswati (Tembe Swami) Maharaj Shri Datta assumed 16 Main Incarnations and many more. According to Shri Guru Charitra Sri Dattatreya assumed 2 Avataras in this Kaliyuga namely, Shripad Shri Vallabha and Sri Narasimha Saraswati. Click here to read more about the Incarnations
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