The Avadhoota Gita
The Avadhoota Gita is writen by Sage Dattatreya. Dattatreya is regarded by many as the foremost incarnation. He was the combined incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. His narration was recorded by his two desciples Swami and Kartika. It is undoubtedly one of the ancient most Hindu Scriptures. Dattatreya belonged to the ancient Vedic period as there is a Dattatreya Upanishad in the Atharvaveda. He is definitely before the Ramayana period as it is mentioned that Dattatreya taught the Shoda-nyasa of Srividya to Lord Parashurama, who was before Lord Rama. He also taught the Asthanga Yoga to Patanjali, who then wrote the famous Patanjali Yoga Sutras. The Avadhoota Gita is regarded by almost all sages as the greatest treatise on Advaita Vedanta. Some are of the opinion that Dattatreya was the originator of Tantra.
Legends about his birth are many and varied, and the place he died is unknown. It is stated that he was born on Wednesday, the 14th day of the Full Moon in the month of Margashirsha, but of year and place there is no reliable information. Scholars speculate it must have been not less than 5000 B.C, or even earlier.
Swami Vivekananda once said of the Avadhoota Gita, ‘Men like the one who wrote this song keep religion alive. They have actually self-realized; they care for nothing, feel nothing done to the body, care not for heat, cold, danger, or anything. They sit still enjoying the bliss of Brahman.’
The story of Dattatreya is told in many Puranas. The story from Markandeya purana, chapter 15, is as follows:
A brahmin named Kaushika was enchanted by a courtesan and lost his wealth, health etc. However, his wife, Shandili was faithful to him. She even carried him on her shoulders to the courtesan’s place. Once, by mistake, she stepped on Sage Mandavya and the sage cursed both of them to die by sunrise. Shandili prayed and appealed that the sun may never rise so that her husband would live. Her prayer was answered and the devas were in an uproar seeing the world order of time destroyed. They asked for the help of Anusuya, the wife of sage Atri, to convince Shandili. Anusuya was able to convince Shandili on the condition that Kaushika would live on sunrise. In appreciation of Anusuya’s intervention, the gods granted her three boons. She asked for her liberation, her husband’s liberation and that the three gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva be born as sons to her. The wishes being granted, from Sage Atri’s eyes issued a light and served as the seed for the divine sons – Soma, Durvasa, and Datta – partial incarnations of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu, respectively.
Other puranas give different narratives but all involve the attribution of the name Dattatreya to mean ‘Son of sage Atri.’ For example, there is a story is that the gods decided to test the chastity of Anasuya, the wife of the rishi Atri. So, brahma, Vishnu and Siva went to her posing as handsome men. However, Atri was not fooled and transformed all three of them into a single child with three heads. This child is known as Dattatreya and is considered to be an incarnation of all the three gods: Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha.
At birth, Dattatreya looked like a well-developed child of three or four years. Right after his birth, he told his mother, ‘I am leaving home.’ She