The present volume on Lord Dattatreya by Sadguru Sant Keshavadas is a significant contribution for interested scholars and lay people alike, released in his ongoing series of such scholarly publications. Among the multi-phased, worldwide spiritual and religious expressions and services of Sri Keshavadas, taking time to identify, reflect and write upon important religious themes to help illumine the readers' minds has always found a top priority. The theme Lord Dattatreya is such a rare, lofty subject for study and spiritual inquiry, it lifts the mind to experience some of the higher peaks of Hindu and world spirituality. It is a theme which, until now, has not been adequately explored nor written about in detail. Hence the importance of this work which truly fills a great need in many ways.
The holy name Dattatreya evokes the deepest reverence in the minds and hearts of millions of Hindus, though the complete implications of the rich symbolism, philosophies and stories are known only to a smaller number. Dattatreya is one of the great primordial symbolizations of the One Supreme Holy Truth and Reality. He is one of the ultimate manifestations of Godhead, appearing to humanity in a tripartite form, a divine trinity, the Being with three "faces" representing Creation, Sustenance and . Withdrawal. The primordial vision and experience of the holy sages found expression in the subsequent name and form and was later couched in the religious and philosophical concepts, stories of His birth and activities, iconographies and inspired religious art. Such tripartite approaches and visions of God are also seen elsewhere in other religious experiences among the world's religions, especially and centrally in Christianity, as the Holy Trinity.
The Swiss mystic Nicklaus von Flue (1417-1487) had a vision and a mystical experience. Much later, he described the experience using the religious language and symbol-systems of his culture and religion. His experience was intense; it appeared as a powerful, brilliant apparition of light. He saw a human face in the light which first seemed to be full of wrath and struck deep fear into Nicklaus' heart. Then, he slowly saw three concentric circles of light forming around the face. Much later, he interpreted the whole vision and experience as seeing the Holy Trinity. Today, close to where Nicklaus lived, a nearby parish church has an old painting of Trinity as three spoked, concentric circles of light .
In Hindu art, Dattatreya is shown with three heads, rising from one body. The three right hands wield a trident, a rosary and a lotus flower. The three left hands hold a discus, a conch and a waterpot. It is a supreme fusion and synthesis of all the powers and function of the Hindu Trinity, a way of showing the Unity and Harmony of the total Godhead. Love, Grace, Teaching and Saving are all combined in the form. He is represented as a sanyasin in the ochre-colored robe, which represents the spirit of renunciation and non-selfish detachment. Yet, he is full of tenderness, love and grace and actively hunts with His four "watchdogs," the Vedic scriptures, for the hearts and souls of human beings to teach and save them. He is the Way and the Goal, both in One, the ever holy, all-pervasive Reality. All these truths are describedin the primary works like the Dattatreya Upanishad and the Sandilya Upanishad.
The Sandilya Upanishad describes Him as the Auspicious, the Gracious, the Tranquil and the Peaceful. His luster and complexion resemble that of the sapphire (Indranila). His limbs are smeared with holy ashes. The glorious Lord, Dattatreya, is adorned with the crown of matted hair. He is the world teacher (Sadguru), and dear to yogis. His divine activities and leelas ("sports'') are full of mystery and marvel. All these teachings and truths, the profound symbolisms and their meanings are explained by Sri Keshavadas in the present work. His discussions include the twenty-four gurus of Dattatreya, the special mantras, the liturgies and worship practices and special prayers. Mantra-yoga; nada-yoga, the Guru-disciple relationship-s-all these as seen and expounded in ancient works attributed to Lord Dattatreya are dealt with in detail. Sri Keshavadas has also translated from the Sanskrit two remarkable spiritual texts attributed to Dattatreya, the Avadhuta Gita and the Jeevanmukta Gita in addition to the lofty verses of the Guru Gita attributed to Lord Shiva.
The excellent discussions are the result of deep study, meditation and reflection by a loving and well-equipped mind steeped in Hindu lore and made available to the modern reader in this beautiful book. We all owe a deep debt of gratitude to Sri Sadguru Sant Keshavadas and those devotees who have substantially helped him in bringing out this volume.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Jeevan Mukta Gita
Philosophy of Dattatreya
24 Preceptors of Dattatreya
Appearance of Dattatreya to Sage Atri and Anasuya
Incarnations of Sadguru Dattatreya
Meditations on Sri Dattatreya
Lord Dattatreya's Leelas (Stories of Dattatreya)
The Guru Gita
The Avadhuta Gita
Sadguru Dattatreya Stotra
Hymns and Bhajans
Sri Datta Sahasra Naamaavali
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