by Upadhyay Mihirkumar Sudhirbhai | 2012 | 54,976 words
This page relates ‘Lord Dattatreya’s incarnations’ of the study of the Dvisahasri by Tembesvami:—a Sanskrit epic poem (mahakavya) narrating the legend and activities of Lord Dattatreya, including details on his divine sports and incarnations. Also known as Datta, he is considered one of the Holy Masters in the Natha cult imparting spiritual knowledge and adequate practice to the aspirant.
After discussing all about Lord Dattātreya’s birth, life, deeds, works, etc. Lord Dattātreya’s 02 incarnations Śrīpādaśrivallabha and Nṛsiṃhasarasvatī as well as their life and deeds.
(1) Śrīpādaśrivallabha (14th -15th century AD):
In the city Pīṭhāpura of Eastern part of India there lives a Brahmin named Rājā with his wife Sumati. Both are devoted to Lord Dattātreya. One day Lord Dattātreya comes to his house in the guise of a mendicant and begs the food. She offers the food, though the performance of the ancestral right is yet to over. The Lord is pleased and reveals His original form (described). She offers Him food with the firm belief that He is the partaker of the food. He offers a boon.
The Brahmin lady says that she along with her ancestors have blessed, because He has showed His form. She asks for a virtuous son, because He has addressed her as “O mother.” The Lord Okays it and adds that she will get a son like Him. The Lord disappears. She reports everything to her husband, both get delighted. She asks her husband to forgive for offering meals to the Lord before the ancestral rite.
The Brahmin because happy because she has offered directly to Lord Viṣṇu Himself. She has sanctified their lineage and has archived boon beneficial to the world. She gives birth to the Unborn Lord. Astrologers say that He is born as the fruit of the Brahmin’s merits. He is Lord Dattātreya Himself who has taken incarnation for the path of devotion. The father names him Śrīpāda on seeing marks on his foot-soles (pāda) with auspicious sign (śrī). He grows fast. The boy is initiated. The father teaches Him the three Vedas. The boy denies the marriage.
Śrīpāda says that after renouncing the world, He would marry the Yogaśrī. The parents tell him that they would not be able to survive without Him. He should not forsake them in the ocean of misery. His (i.e. Śrīpāda’s) remembrance releases them from the fetters of the worldly Existence, but that would run away as the time passes. The other (two) children are lame and blind. He listens to their words and places His hand on the head of both the children. Both are cured and become knowledgeable miraculously. On seeing this miracle the mother remembers His words. Śrīpāda circumambulates his parents, bows down and being permitted goes to Vārāṇasī and then to Badarikāśrama. He then comes to Kuravapura on the bank of river Kṛṣnā.
There lives a Vedic Brahmin with his wife Ambikā. She gives birth to a son who is fool, stupid, less-intelligent and stubborn. Though he is initiated with the sacred thread he is unable to chant even the Gāyatrī formula. The father beats the son and the mother stops. He promises not to beat him. The Brahmin then dies soon. The mother and the son pass their life on begging. After some time other Brahmins censure them. They ask him to leave the place or to die. He goes to river Kṛṣnā for dying. The mother follows him. Śrīpādaśrīvallabha sees them, stops them and says compassionately that suicide is very difficult to bear. He instruct her to propitiates Lord Śiva who will released them in next birth. She said that it is difficult to spend life with this (i.e. dull son). She asks the boon for the blessedness of this motherhood.
Śrīpāda is pleased and places His hand on his head. The boy becomes a scholar. Śrīpāda asks her to spend her life in worshipping Lord Śiva. She will obtain a son like Him (in the next birth). She returns to her village and worships Lord Śiva. The Lord thinks to become her son and disappears in order to incarnate. Though he is invisible, He fulfills the desires of the devotees.
(2) Nṛsiṃhasarasvatī (15th century AD):
The Brahmin lady who was survived by Śrīpāda passes away and born with intellect, beauty, character and with good signs and with good virtues in the northern direction of Kuravapur (i.e. in modern Kārañjā). She is known as Ambā. (lit. the mother) as H.H. Śrīpāda had addressed her as the mother. Her father meets a Brahmin of the same city named Mādhava, a Śiva devotee and gives her to him in marriage. She observes the vow of chastity and because of her previous impressions she worships Lord Śiva. The mutual love and the binding of heart make them joyous. Living thus Ambā conceives (a child). The Brahmin performs the rite of conceiving in its proper order. At the auspicious time He takes birth reciting the sacred syllable ‘Om.’ The World become well wishing and the people are wonderstruck on hearing the sound of the sacred syllable Om. The astrologers calculating the planets unseen before indicating renunciation become happy.
The astrologers say this is the fruit of Mādhava’s merits. Wealth, attainments, and the treasures will follow his footsteps. He will not be a house holder, but a man uplifting others. There is no doubt about it. The astrologers go home. The people hearing about His Miraculous birth come to see him. The father places him in a solitary place and protects the child with the thread of protection thinking the Lord as a normal child. The Brahmin names the child to be Narahari thinks Him the remover of the sins, agony and the poverty of the people. When the mother asks for a foster mother as she is not getting milk, the child touches her breast and they give milk. She being afraid of the evil sight (of others) on the child does not express such and other miracles. The ignorant cannot understand Him, how can one able to think about His Brahman-hood.
He behaves like a dumb at the age of three years, His mother starts practicing remedies. But the boy does not speak a single word. The parents speak that the boy is dumb, how can they initiate Him with sacred thread. He then shows with the gesture that he will speak after the initiation. He touches iron and transforms it in to gold for making them joyous. Mādhava invites the Brahmin priests and initiates his son with the sacred thread. He receives the Gāyatrī formula by His preceptor, begs the alms and Practises the duties of a celibate, recites the four Vedas. He bows down to his parents and asks the permission to take renunciation and says that they should cut the discriminating knowledge in Him. They will get sons (and daughter). The mother tells that He is her only son, He should not leave them. The celibate should take renunciation after enjoying the household life and the forest life.
Nṛsiṃhasarasvatī says that this order is for those who are attached to the pleasures which are the sources of the miseries. This body of a twice born is the best instrument for (acquiring) the knowledge of the self. His mother should not be a hurdle in His way. He says that she will beget a son and cross over the ocean of existence. He shows her His own Divine Form. She knows their previous birth and speaks, that she had seen Him when she was dying due to her dull son. Even Lord Brahma does not know His Form and virtues. She is grateful that He imparts the knowledge of the self. He, possessing the whole cosmos in His bally has taken birth from her bally. He has purified her families.
Let there not be any obstacle in His way. She requests Him to reside in her and also in that place till she begets a son. The Lord accept it. The parents pay full respect Him. He teaches scriptures to the students there. After some time Ambā begets two auspicious sons. The children become three months old. He starts for renunciation when He gets their permission.
His face looks gorgeous with turban. His lotus-feet look decorated with the wooden sandals. His tender body is covered with the scarlet cloths. He wears lion-cloths and holds a staff with smiling face. She said that Lord has to forgive her offence that is committed out of misunderstanding Him as a child. He says that she will meet Him after thirty years, He will just be with her as soon as she think of Him. He leaves the place.
He practices the Khecari Mudrā and the penance. His breath becomes free from inhalation and exhalation though he is living in Vārāṇasi. Other monks watch him who is practicing the yoga of eight steps, seated in the posture of siddha. They bow down with eight limbs to Him. They speak that He is not a mortal but Supreme Lord.
In this terrific Kali Era He deserves to bestow the Bliss of spirituality. He selects kṛṣṇasarasvatī as Holy Master. He i.e. the boy Narahari accepts the path of renunciation and becomes famous by the name Nṛsiṃhasarasvatī. Now He shines elegant without sacred thread and tuft of hair. The path of renunciation introduced by Ādiśaṅkarācarya has gone in oblivion, Kṛṣṇasarasvatī extendme it on Him. This path is disrupted by ignorant.
He explains the path of renunciation to the liberation wishers.
H. H. Ṭ̣embesvāmī explains many divine sports of Nṛsiṃhasarasvatī in 02 verses of the present text Dvisāhasrī.
Who is able to know Your prowess and other because you revived the dead Brahmin, transformed of a barren buffalo in to a milch one, generated the dry wood in a leafy tree and uplifted a low cast person in a moment (Dvisāhasrī 20/09).
O Nṛsiṃhasarasvatī, I bow down to the best lotus-feet of yours. Your unequal greatness in three words is such that you have given speech to a dumb, sight to a blind, a virtuous son to a barren woman, life to a dead one, a long marriage life to a widow and leaves to the dry wood-stem. (20/70)
Footnotes and references:
vyāghracarmāvṛtastryāsyo jaṭilo bhasmabhūṣitaḥ|| 5/10||
putro bhāvibhaye mādṛkte bhaviṣyati vā iti| ([Dvisāhasrī]. 07/38)