Bhagwan Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva are said to have descended to the earth in the form of Sri Dattatreya.
Sri Dattatreya is born to the rishi couple Atri Muni and Anasuya. The four dogs that accompany Him are considered to be the symbol of four Vedas. The Gaumata (cow) behind Him is said to be the incarnation of Bhoomata (earth).
The shloka –
“Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru devo Maheshwara,
Guru sakshat, param Brahma, tasmai shri guravay namah”
Is in praise of Dattatreya who is an incarnation of the Trimurthis- Bhagwan Vishnu, Bhagwan Brahma and Bhagwan Shiva.
Dattatreya’s birth place
Around 125 Kms from Nanded (Maharashtra), in the village Mahur, there is a temple for Dattatreya. This place is the birthplace of Dattatreya. This temple is located on a small hillock.
Dattatreya preaches what one should learn from the qualities and functions of pancha bhootas (earth, water, fire, air and ether), 5 janendriyas (eyes, ears, skin, tongue and nose), 5 karmendriyas (mouth, hands, legs, and two organs of excreta), 5 tanmatras (sound, touch, form, taste and smell) and 4 anthakaranas (mind, heart, intellect and soul) on how to lead a life performing one’s job but with detachment in order to attain salvation.
Incarnations of Dattatreya
All the three primal energies of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are manifested into one body with three heads as Dattatreya. Datta means one that is given, boon or donated and treya means three. The main incarnations of Dattatreya in Kaliyuga are –
Sri Paadha Sri Vallabha (AD. 1320-1350 AD) is considered as first of the avatar (incarnation) of the deity Shri Dattatreya in Kaliyuga. He was born in Pithapuram, Andhra Pradesh.
Sri Narasimha Saraswati (AD 1378 to 1458) was the next avatar of Shri Dattatreya in Kaliyuga. Born to Sri Madhav and Amba Bhavani, a Deshastha Brahmin family in Karanjapur, Maharashtra.
Sri Manikya Prabhu Maharaj (1817-1865) avatar of Dattatreya was born in a village called Ladwanti, near the town of Kalyan, Maharashtra.
Swami Samarth Maharaj (1856-1878) also known as Akkalkot Swami Maharaj is the fourth incarnation of Lord Dattatreya in this Kaliyuga.
Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi (1838-1918) one of the foremost saints of modern Bharat is considered as the fifth avatar (incarnation) of Sri Dattatreya in this age of Kali.
Important Datta Kshetras
Pithapuram in Andhra Pradesh; Girnar in Gujarat; Gaangapur and Kuruvapur in Karnataka; Mahur, Karanjapur, Oudumbar, Narsobawaadi, Paanchaleshwar in Maharashtra are the important Datta kshetras
Sri Dattatreya is considered as Guru of all the gurus and worshipping Him is known as Datta sampradaya or guru sampradaya. Devotees of Dattatreya strongly believe that worshipping Him saves a person from the Pitrudosha or Pitrushaap (i.e., curse of the deceased ancestors) and receive their blessings.
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