The teachers in various planes of creation are a manifestation of the one teaching principle, which is referred to in the ancient Indian wisdom as Dattatreya. Dattatreya is the Grand Teacher or “Guru Principle” in the universe. All teachers are forms of Dattatreya; he is the head of the Hierarchy on all globes. For our Hierarchy, the Great White Brotherhood, Maitreya is the head, while Dattatreya has manifested via the great Sun Sirius and is the Head of the Great White Brotherhood there. The Sirius system, also called ‘Dattatreya Mandala’ in the East, is the teacher for our solar system. The energy of synthesis came to our planet via Sirius. Sirius is also called the Dog Star or the Star of the South, in Sanskrit Sarama (‘dog’). Agastya, Master Jupiter, also comes from the Dog Star; he works from the south and his ashrams are located in the southern hemisphere. Maitreya works from the north.
Maitreya and Dattatreya are Atreyas, meaning the children of ‘not three’. It means that they are most high souls who are not bound by the triangular forces of the creation. It is the state of father and mother without the state of the son, an expression of power and love. They transmit the divine presence which uplifts the seeker to himself. Sublime beings like Dattatreya are beyond mental understanding. People build concepts around them and feel comfortable with them. Teachings are also forms of concepts. They inspire the mind and may lift up to the buddhic plane. Especially in the West we are more oriented to teachings and the related mental understanding. However, teachers are essentially meant to transmit the Presence and thus bestow liberation. Dattatreya and Krishna demonstrated a life beyond concepts, they are the direct embodiment of Truth.
Incarnations of Dattatreya
Though Dattatreya always gives us his presence subtly, we feel better when he is present physically. Ages ago, seers prayed to heaven asking the Lord to incarnate physically on Earth. Out of compassion for the beings and to guide them, the Lord came down into the creation as the Teacher and, thus, gave himself into the creation for a second time. Therefore he is also called ‘Sri Guru Datta’; ‘Datta’ means, he who gives himself. He creates the Path and helps all those who have decided to walk it, so that they realise themselves as immortal and divine beings of light. Therefore, Dattatreya is considered as the Lord of Yoga.
The personification of the Lord as Dattatreya is very mysterious and mystifying. He is only recognised by the initiates. The way he teaches is incomprehensible by the students until they are fully accomplished themselves. Among the great beings that descended on this planet in the times of Lemuria and stayed with us to help us, the foremost of those as recorded in the Eastern Scriptures are Kapila, then Dattatreya, then Ganesha or Ganapati, and then Hanuman. These four grand cosmic intelligences are beyond the three qualities. They are not only present on Earth but they are also present in the Muladhara of every human to help us with the ascent. They work through the four petals of the Muladhara: The seat of Kapila is in the eastern petal, the seat of Dattatreya is in the southern petal, the seat of Ganapati is in the western petal and the seat of Hanuman is in the northern petal. They can also work simultaneously between the Sahasrara and the Ajna.
In Kali Yuga, the first incarnation of Dattatreya was Sripadha Srivallabha (approx. 1320-1350 AD), followed by Narasimha Saraswati (1378-1459), Vasudevanand Saraswati (1854–1914) and Akkalkot Maharaj (died 1878). Shirdi Sai Baba and Satya Sai Baba are also regarded as his manifestations. There are many Avatars of Dattatreya; he simultaneously functions through multiple bodies and there are further manifestations.
Mystical and Inexplicable
Their work is very mystical and their manifestation is inexplicable. They function more with the light of the soul than with the mind – from soul to soul. Neither matter nor mind exist for them and they have extra-sensory perception of a very high order. They stimulate the yogic consciousness and they also help fulfil personal requirements to alleviate the suffering of the personality.
Since their teachings and their way of living are for us – especially in the West – not consistent and too mystical, we therefore tend to tread the path of Maitreya. Krishna instituted this path as a complementary energy with a Yoga school whose head is Maitreya. The work of Maitreya and of the Masters of the Himalaya is very systematic, understandable and comprehensible to the people who are connected with matter and mind. The Yoga path contains steps relating to matter, emotions, mind, Buddhi and the soul. We receive techniques from books or from initiates together with instructions on how to use them. We are given a plan and it is up to us to work it out. Particularly mentally oriented people appreciate this method. Since most of the humanity is developing mentally, this technique is applied more and more.
The path of Dattatreya is a path of complete surrender and submission without raising doubts. The disciple totally casts off his mind to be able to merge with the Master. Full of devotion, he totally accepts whatever the Master does, even if it seems to be nonsense. When the Master sees that his disciple does everything what he asks of him, the transformation can happen like a flash of lightening, by a touch or by a look. It is a very ancient technique where the Master only works on the egoistic nature of his disciples. The Masters of Dattatreya have their own methods of training which cannot be understood by a normal person. People can follow them only with an indomitable and unconditional faith in the Master.
In the path of Yoga for mentally oriented people the teacher does not assume any responsibility for the karma of the disciple; the disciple works it out in independence by working with the given techniques. Only when he has reached a point on his path where he can no more maintain the desire for independence, he meets his real Master and can follow him.
Since all teachers are forms of Dattatreya, he can be invoked in Yoga. We can visualise him to be present at our front and that the three Nadis - Ida, Pingala and Sushumna - go out from him. As much as we visualise Sri Guru Datta or the teacher in a form, so much he gives us his presence through that form. Every form can be a vehicle for interaction with the teacher.
The seed sound relating to Dattatreya is DRAM which can fulfil desires and confers benediction for mundane and super-mundane fulfilment. “OM DRAM” is uttered forth with the inhalation and the exhalation, to establish the presence of Dattatreya in one’s own being.
Maitreya functions through Gemini while Dattatreya functions through Sagittarius. They are two opposite but complementary signs and are supportive to each other. Gemini full moon is the festival of Lord Maitreya, the Christ; Sagittarius full moon is celebrated as the festival of Lord Dattatreya. Now in the East the Sagittarius full moon has predominant importance and in the West the Gemini full moon. In future Leo full moon will be accorded the highest importance for all, as predicted by Master Djwhal Khul, because we can experience the energies of Gemini full moon and Sagittarius full moon at the same time.
Symbolism of Dattatreya
Dattatreya is an incarnation of the Second Logos and the representative of the energies of the first, second and third ray on our planet. He is depicted with three heads representing these three primary rays. We invoke this three-fold energy through the Sloka “Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnuhu, Gurur Devo Maheshvaraha”. Dattatreya is the Guru who stimulates as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva the will, the love and the intelligence, and at the same time he is the absolute Lord whom we address with “Guru Sakshat Parambrahma”.
The symbol of Dattatreya is the equilateral triangle containing 10 points, the decade, which is used in many wisdom teachings. Its pure geometrical form is the triangle within a circle and a point in the centre. It is used by advanced students of occultism. For people who are more form-oriented, Dattatreya is depicted as a man with three heads and four arms holding four instruments in his hands. He is leaning on a cow. In the Vedic symbolism, the cow stands for the creation and also for our Earth which offers us fullness, rich experiences and joy.
Dattatreya is represented together with four dogs, and it says that he is always surrounded by dogs. Dogs have a very good ear and their presence indicate us to be silent and to listen to the subtle sound: listen inside and then talk outside. The Greeks knew the three-headed dog Cerberus who guards the door to the nether-worlds. The three-headed Lord is equated with this dog. He assists us through sound and
Sources: K.P. Kumar: Sri Dattatreya. The Symbol & the Significance / notes from seminars. E. Krishnamacharya: Spiritual Astrology. The World Teacher Trust - Dhanishta, Visakhapatnam, India