The Avadhoota Gita-2

At birth, Dattatreya looked like a well-developed child of three or four years. Right after his birth, he told his mother, ‘I am leaving home.’ She  told him to at least wear a langoti, a loincloth. He said that he did not need one: ‘I will live just as I have come.’ And he spent his whole life as an avadhoota. He initiated thousands of people. Even while on the move, he would make disciples, give mantra diksha, work for their deliverance, without any discrimination according to religion, caste, sex or conduct. He spent most of his life wandering in the area between and including North Mysore, through Maharashtra, and into Gujarat as far as the Narmada River. One scripture refers to a disciple finding Datta meditating on Gandhmadana Mountain. He attained realisation at a place not far from the town now known as Gangapur.

He is said to have lived a rather unconventional life, first being a warrior, then renouncing the world and practising yoga and then drinking wine and living with a maiden etc to show his disciples that he could be unattached to such mundane pleasures even if he indulges in them.

Dattatreya is said to have met Shankara near Kedarnath before Shankara’s mahasamadhi. There is still a cave in Kedarnath signifying this event. Apart from Avadhuta Gita, he also composed the Jivanmukta -gita which is a short compendium of 23 verses which talks about the jnani (jivan mukta), a tantrik text known as Haritayana Samhita and Dattatreya Tantra.

Dattatreya is also mentioned in the Mahabharata, in the Yagyavakya Upanishad, Jabala Upanishad, Narada-Parivraja Upanishad, Bhikshu Upanishad and Shandilya Upanishad. The Vaishnavites hold him in high esteem since he is mentioned as a incarnation of Vishnu. Dattatreya is the narrator of the Jnana Kanda of Tripura Rahasya to Parasurama to dispel the latter’s doubts on liberation. This contains the famous Shodanyasa of Devi.

(The story of Samvrata found in Tripura Rahasya has been cited by Shankara in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya).

Dattatreya is usually depicted with four dogs by his side, representing the four vedas, a cow behind him representing Lord Vishnu, a trident in his hand representing Lord Shiva and three heads representing Lord Brahma.

Om Namah Shivay

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