• Dattatreya
  • The Meaning
  • The Teacher


I am Datta. I am the sole phenomenon that pervades millions and millions of universes. Directions are my dress. I am ‘Digambara’.

The Meaning

Only by strict observance of spiritual discipline, you can know My corporeal cosmic form encompassing all forms of deities and all forces as My integral parts, only by strict observance of spiritual discipline.

The Teacher

Even if you are following your own righteous path, if you remember My name, I will protect you like the eyelid the eye.

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Dattatreya: The Avatars

“I am Datta. I am the sole phenomenon that pervades millions of universes.”
- Srīpāda

Book: Sri Dattatreya Overview Dattatreya section Back: The Hierarchy of Teachers Continue: The Symbols and Figurative Form

God is essentially male-female; he manifests as Will, Knowledge and Action, the divine Trinity. We call it the divinity manifested. Dattatreya is the male-female energy, which took form as the synthesis of the Trinity.

His manifestation was not through a normal birth. The great seer Atri did a long and profound penance for the welfare of creation. The Trinity appeared before him to bless him. They wanted to give him a boon. He asked them to incarnate in one form and that this form should be easily accessible to the beings. The Trinity agreed and thus, Lord Dattatreya was born to the sublime couple of Atri and his wife Anasuya.

Dattatreya is an eternal presence. He gives his presence not only to the various cosmic planes but also to earth. He moves in a subtle form at different holy places, where his presence can be felt through profound and constant contemplation. Thus, he appeared to seers and saints in their dreams, meditations and visions.

Srī Datta not only remained as a divine form in the subtle planes but from time to time he further descended and appeared in a human form to guide, help, and give his blessings in mysterious ways. Thus during the previous Ages, he gave his appearance on different occasions to siddhas and rishis and spread his graceful divine light. He took to different forms, appearing in yogic fire, in avadhuta forms, or even in very ugly forms to test the sages.

He appears in very simple forms. There are many incarnations of Dattatreya. Their ways of doing things are not comprehensible to the mind or through logic but we can relate to the Lord with the heart. As much as we relate, so much we get transformed.

In the present Dark Age, the Kali Yuga, Lord Dattatreya manifested in three forms, as Srīpāda Srīvallabha, as Narasimha Saraswati and as Swamī Samartha. He also took to a number of partial incarnations.

His incarnations are described in the book “Srīpāda Srīvallabha Charitāmrutam”. In some forms, he exists forever, like in the form of sixteen year old Srīpāda Srīvallabha. He appeared in this form even before he took birth in the 14th century.

The incarnations of Dattatreya are compared to a banyan tree with many branches and hanging roots. They seem to be independent but are all part of the same tree. In some incarnations he appeared in his full splendour; these are called purna avatars. In others, he manifested as a partial incarnation; these are his amsa avatars.

There are many saints and gurus who through their intense aspiration and orientation have received the energy of Lord Dattatreya and got realised themselves. Many gurus emerged between the 17th and 19th century, where the touch of the Lord made them to give out the same fresh touch to others. But we cannot say that they are also incarnations of Dattatreya.

We should not make a cult out of Dattatreya. The Lord is one. The divinity means male-female with its triple aspect. It manifested as Dattatreya for a special purpose. In India, there are varieties of worships: there is Shiva worship, Vishnu worship, worship of the Mother with the three Mothers in her. The triple Sun is worshipped as Gayatri with the basis of pure consciousness and pure existence; Gayatri is no other than Dattatreya in terms of essence. Then there is a school of the Brahman with his fourfold manifestation. There is a tendency to make a cult out of any concept. A new presentation of the same divinity should increase our comprehension without making a cult out of it. The wisdom tells us to comprehend the varieties of dimensions of wisdom without losing track of the essential principles behind. Continue: Symbols and Figurative Form


  • K. Parvathi Kumar: Sri Dattatreya / notes from seminars. The World Teacher Trust - Dhanishta, Visakhapatnam, India (www.worldteachertrust.org)