Sri Dattatreya. The Symbol & the Significance
Dattatreya is accompanied by a healthy white cow. The cow is under the protection of Sri Guru Datta. In the Vedic symbolism, the cow stands for the creation and also for our planet Earth. The planet and the creation offer innumerable wealth, pleasure experiences, happiness, joyfulness and bliss. The planet nourishes the beings of the planet. The creation nourishes the beings in creation with its milk. The planet and the creation are willing to be milked, to nourish the beings in all planes of existence. The drinking of cow milk is symbolic of such nourishment, growth and contentment in the physical, vital, mental, buddhic and blissful planes. The creation is made for the joy of the beings. The joy is in right action towards the cow, which is symbolic of the planet and the creation. It is for this reason, the cow is considered sacred and is respected, worshipped, protected and fed well before one uses its milk. It is a matter of culture that man should gain this delicate understanding of life. Though he is intellectually advancing, there is a very tangible and perceptible fall in his understanding of life and the delicacy relating to it. Culture demands delicate handling of everything in creation. The very meaning of culture is lost and it is about time that man looks to the art of living.
The status that the cow has in a society decides the cultural status of that society. Where the cow is insulted, such society is destined to lose the secrets of fife. It is beastly to ruffly handle the cow, abusing her through technical knowledge, to draw excessive milk by feeding all unhygienic and unhealthy food, is monstrous. Man today abuses the cow in every conceivable way. It depicts his cultural fall.
The cow, the woman, the planet, the solar system and the cosmic system are the different states of the cow principle. By right approach and right attitude towards them, man gains the splendour of life. By wrong approach, man is bound to fall and suffer. The ancient Indian Scriptures proclaim that: no one who intends to live in peace can afford to hurt a cow, a woman, the planet (of course he is incapable of hurting the solar system and the cosmic system). If one worships, protects and nourishes the three, they get favourably inclined towards the one. Their favourable inclination gives to the one the inexplicable joy and the pleasure of being. It is for this reason Dattatreya is depicted as protecting the cow. The cow follows him in all ways. The cow is the giver of all fulfilment, joy, happiness and experience and it follows Dattatreya.
In the Indian mythology, Sri Guru Datta and Sri Krishna are the only ones shown as accompanied by a cow. There is profound significance in such depictions, both of them represent the one teaching principle in all the three planes of existence. Sri Guru Datta, being three-headed, is creative, preserving and annihilating. So is Krishna, who demonstrated creativity like the creator Brahma, protection like the preserver Vishnu, and annihilator like the annihilator Siva. Sri Guru Datta is the Master of yoga in creation and Sri Krishna gave out the science of yoga through the Bhagavad Gita. The Bhagavad Gita is a synthesis of Brahma Vidya, Yoga Vidya and the Upanishads.
All that which is mystically depicted as Sri Guru Datta, was in its full manifestation in flesh and blood as Sri Krishna.
The cow that follows Sri Guru Datta or Sri Krishna, is the most mysterious cow, capable of performing most wonderful acts. The cow, for instance, conducts the secretions from the glands of the beings. The secretion of the pineal, pituitary, thymus, thyroidal glands etc. are presided over by the cow. The blissful experience of the celestial musical tones and the consequent ecstasy, is also the work of the cow. Permeation of life and awareness through the solar ray, is also conducted by the cow. Digesting food and drink and transforming the essence of them into blood cells, which form the basis of health, is also the act of the cow. Transforming the blood tissues into the tissues of milk in the mothers, is also the sublime action of the cow principle. Cow is thus the basis feeder of all.
Invocation of the Word into will, thought, expression and action, is also another way of milking the cow. Those who are capable of receiving the impressions of higher circles, are the ones who can milk the ancient wisdom for the benefit of the fellow beings. To sum up, the entire chemistry of the creation is presided over by the cow principle. Such is the profundity of understanding of the cow by the Vedic seers.
The cow is called GO in Sanskrit. GO is a compound sound of GA and O. GA stands for Jupiter and O stands for Sun. If the essence of the two planetary principles is well understood, the cow is understood.
As said earlier, the cow presides over the secretion of glands. In the science of yoga it gives the related practice to enable the thymus and the pineal glands to secret, which normally does not function in ordinary human beings. The secretions from these higher centres help preparing the body of light, which is called the etheric body in which one can dwell, transcending death. The secret of deathlessness enunciated by the grand yogis of all times, is building the Divya Sarira or the body of light. The Hierarchy consists of humans that followed the path of yoga and built their respective bodies of light. Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanat Kumara, Suka, Vyasa, Maitreya, Hanuman, are some of those who are popular amidst those that hold the bodies of light. Lord Dattatreya presides over all yogis, he is extolled as the Master of Masters in all the 3 planes, like Sri Krishna.