Lord Dattatreya – Adventurous Encounters
The month of Sagittarius is related to spiritual aspiration and the teacher, represented by Jupiter, and thus also to the cosmic principle of the Teacher. In India, this principle is also understood as Lord Dattatreya. Sri Kumar has written a profound book about the topic. Since long, I’m fascinated by Dattatreya and I just have published the Lunar Messenger for Sagittarius on Dattatreya (PDF); you also find the text here.
In this regard, I would like to tell you some events of the last weeks which touched me very much. It became quite a long blog-post but you won’t regret reading it till the end…
On 20 October, I got an e-mail from Lakshmi, a young IT specialist from Chennai with whom I have e-mail exchanges from time to time. She wrote: “By the way, I wanted to ask you if you have any book in German related to Sripada Srivallabha, the first avatar of Lord Dattatreya on Earth.” I didn’t remember having heard the name before. So I looked it up in Wikipedia and found an article.
In the next e-mail Lakshmi asked me if I would be able to translate a book about him into German, Sreepada Sreevallabha Charitaamrutam, if she provides me the English version. I answered her, “I think I would be able but I don’t know if I want to do it, there is other work around.” While I was writing these words, I felt a strange inner touch and that I should not decline the request. I told me wife, “I have the impression that a book translation is coming to me…”
When reading in the Wikipedia article that Sripada Srivallabha, who lived in the 14th century, is regarded as the first incarnation of Lord Dattatreya in Kali Yuga and that he was born in Pithapuram, I noticed that it is a place between Visakhapatnam and Rajahmundry and that I had passed nearby last January. Suddenly a memory flashed through my mind, and I opened my notes from the last group living in India. Sri Kumar, who could not accompany the group to Rajahmundry, told us before the journey:
“You will all start at 3 pm in the afternoon. On the way we will stop at a place Lord Dattatreya was born in this cycle of time. Lord Dattatreya comes from the system of Sirius. He lived, was incarnated to a place nearby and lived there for 16 years. Then moved from there to a place in Maharashtra for another 16 years. According to prophecy he was reborn and he said he would again be reborn and again in Maharashtra. And he would also come to many forms of Islamic community; it was Shirdi Sai Baba. … Their ashram is also in…, the place where you go. Many things he prophesied as per other religions; he continues to guide us to one religion or the other. The centre is the ancient-most place related to the system of teachers. The Lord came down via that place from the Sirius system. In this Kali age he took birth. There are books available in English, Telugu and Hindi. I strongly recommend that you pick up the English book and try to read it. It is full of knowledge and things he did on earth. When you enter from the entrance there is a bookshop, in the ashram itself there is a book available. After this you go to Rajahmundry.”
The bus came too late and so the group did not go to the place Lord Dattatreya was born for want of time. I was sad but then forgot about it.
I now felt electrified that Sri Kumar had hinted already at this book which now knocked at my doors. I also remembered a passage in the biography on Master KPK: “In his 24th year, another initiate in the line of Dattatreya visited the family and initiated Sri Parvathi Kumar, his mother and his only sister Parvathi into the path of Yoga.” It also came to my mind that several times I had seen Sri Kumar doing a ritual to Lord Dattatreya. I started an intense web-search and got more and more drawn into the matter:
Statue at the house of Sri Kumar in Visakhapatnam
Sripada Srivallabha had lived from 1320 to 1350 AD, it was a powerful life full of splendour and miraculous events. As prophesied, he re-incarnated as Narasimha Saraswati (1378 to 1459) and worked in a similar style. At the end of this life he entered into a cave and went into Samadhi for about 300 years only to come out around September–October 1856 as Shri Swami Samarth of Akkalkot (who then died in 1878 – I remembered having seen his picture on the altar of the Guru Pujas). I found articles mentioning that during this time Lord Dattatreya had taken to other simultaneous incarnations, such as Vasudevanand Saraswati and Shirdi Sai Baba – a feat other high souls also have done. I had read a lot about Shirdi Baba before. I now was profoundly touched discovering so many mysterious details which I hadn’t known before. I also thought of Swami Ganapati of Mysore, whose ashram I had visited last year and about whom I had blogged several times – he is also regarded as an avatar of Dattatreya.
Click on pictures to see them enlarged:
I wrote Sri Kumar about the idea of translating the book on Sripada Srivallabha, and he answered, “Get the book and read. Then you can decide.” I mentioned the whole story to Robert, a Spanish friend. He said, “Don’t you think a Spanish translation of the book would also be great? I’d love to do it.” I told him the answer of Sri Kumar, and so we said, we’ll read the book and form a triangle for the project, with Lakshmi to provide us with explanations and background information.
Lakshmi now bought the English books and they will reach us end of December in Bangalore, at the December Call. She also procured for us the translation and publishing rights for the book. In the meanwhile I discovered a source where I could get the English translation as a PDF (the print version will be of about 400 pages…).
I asked Doris, a German friend, if she would like to do a proof-reading of the future translation and she was interested to do it. She even transcribed a longer FAQ-session with Sri Kumar from January 1994, where he talked about Lord Dattatreya and his avatars. She also sent me 2 pictures from 1994 with Sri Kumar and two persons considered as avatars of Lord Dattatreya:
Sri Kumar with Sri Visva Yogi Viswam Ji, an avatar of Lord Dattatreya, Guru Puja 1994
Sri Kumar with Bhaktaraj Maharaj (1920-1995), 1994
In the fascinating FAQ transcript, Sri Kumar speaks about various incarnations of Lord Dattatreya, and he also mentions Sripada Srivallabha, Narasimha Saraswati, Akkalkot Maharaj (Swami Samarth), Shirdi Sai Baba and Satya Sai Baba. I wondered why Sri Kumar didn’t give these names in his book on Lord Dattatreya, and so I asked him. He answered:
“Dattatreya is the sum and essence of The Cosmic Principle of Teacher. It is too mystical to the west and hence we tread the path of Maitreya. There are many freaks of Dattatreya, meaning electric manifestations of him thru persons who are not consistent and safe to follow. I therefore did not prefer to present names. Akkalkot Maharaj is the last consistent one.”
In me the question arose, why the incarnations of Dattatreya, the cosmic principle of Teacher, are so mysterious and too mystical for the West, and so I asked again Sri Kumar. He answered,
“Teachers are essentially meant to transmit Presence. Teaching is but a feed to minds of students. Presence elevates. Teaching inspires the mind and may lead to Buddhic state which may not stay longer. The west is more with teaching and the related mental understanding. The Presence lifts unto Itself. Dattatreya and the like are beyond mental comprehension.”
I was grateful for this clarification, and while studying other transcriptions from seminars of Sri Kumar for the Lunar Messenger the image became still clearer, though questions remain, like, what is the relation between Agastya/Master CVV and Dattatreya/Sripada who both have come from the Sirius system? Robert visualised this by fusing the two with the picture of Lord Maitreya to one image which he sent me yesterday:
At the moment, I’m reading the PDF book on Sripada Srivallabha with profound fascination. There are a lot of thrilling stories and inspiring events. However, it is not an easy read for a Westerner, there are lots of Sanskrit terms and concepts quite unfamiliar to my Western mind – although I’m in touch with Indian philosophy since several decades. But a leisurely reading is very uplifting.
I asked myself why I feel so attracted to the topic of Dattatreya, having come out of “devotional” emotions in the course of the years. I thought, I have encountered quite a lot of teachers and teachings and don’t want to go on “collecting more” – I feel well with the path I’m going. I know that the different teachings are expressions of the One principle of teaching and the teachers are expressions of the One. And just as there is a personification of the teaching principle in the World Teacher of our planet, Lord Maitreya, there is also a personification of the teaching principle on a cosmic scale, Lord Dattatreya. But this understanding remained a bit abstract.
Now, the encounter with Sripada deeply touched me, I was thrilled to discover and experience that Dattatreya is not just an abstract principle or a mythological personification but is incarnating time and again through his avatars and thus is giving his blessing to earnest seekers. While reading the “Sreepada Sreevallabha Charitaamrutam” I realised that with the book, there are quite some veils to be lifted, in the form of lots of unfamiliar concepts of Indian thought and terminology – these veils will keep off a casual reader.
The book itself has a very mysterious background: it had been hidden for 32 generations and only resurfaced in 2001, in a form copied from the original Sanskrit text. The original old copy which was brittle was destroyed by immersing it in the Krishna River, as instructed in the book. The English version is a translation of the Telugu version, and it is not an old language. However, I clearly feel that it is not a modern fake. When you read the book in an unbiased way you will realise its authenticity, inspiration and greatness.
If you feel you also really want to read the book “Sreepada Sreevallabha Charitaamrutam”, with a pure heart, you can contact me for a softcopy, only for personal use.
You might also like to read my other blogpost about the visit to the birthplace of Sripada Srivallabha.
YouTube-Video on the Sripada Shrivallabha Temple in Pithapuram – the video could not be framed into the blog:
Video about Kuravpur, a place on an island where Sripada Srivallabha meditated for a longer time.