This is celebrated on full moon in the Hindu month of Magshar
( Magshar Purnima)
Magshar is the month which Krishna Bhawan says – he is that month. Yogananda explains it as – Marg meaning road. shir meaning sahastrar the real word meaning Margshir – road to sahastrar or road in shastrar.
Atri Rishi is a saint who is considered a Chiranjivi – an immortal saint. The others are Marichi, Angiras, Pulaha, Kratu, Pulastya, Vasistha and Atri
Atri rishi is born from the tongue, that is the legend. He is mentioned in Rigveda and use considered the last of the sapta rishi – the 7 immortal Rishis. Gurudev explanation of the Sapta Rishi is perhaps the final word. Dinesh uncle repeatedly told me about it and took me a while to absorb it
There are many stories about how Datyatreya was born.
One story is Atri was married to Ansuya. Ansuya was very pure. She made the wives of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh jealous. They wanted to test her purity. And asked their husbands to prove it. So Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh went to her house and asked for Alms. But told her to give it naked. So Ansuya smiled and brought some Ganga water and sprinkled it on them and they instantly became babies. And then served them food!
Time passed by and their husbands did not return. The wives got concerned. They took human form and came down to check out what happened and Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh were babies! Ansuya asked the wives to pick out their husbands! They then realized the purity of Ansuya. Ansuya sprinkled holy water again and they returned back to normal. In return, she was given a boon. ( Vardaan) She asked for all three of be born to her. Datyatreya was born there with 3 heads representing all 3
The other version is the there children of Ansuya see Dattatreya ( Vishnu incarnation, Durvasa ( Shiv representation) Chandra represented by Brahma
Another version is Dattatreya was born to an unwed Ansuya
Another version is Atri was quite aged and Ansuya young and Dattatreya was born. He was the oldest of the three. Dattatreya, then Durvasa and then Chandra
Chandra ( moon ) had 27 wives. He played favorites with his wives. His father in law Daksha cursed him he will lose his lustre and dwindle away. Chandra then prayed intensely to Shankar Bhagwan and Shanka bhagwan appeared and saved him. The place where Shankar Bhagwan appeared is the Jyotirlinga in Somnath. A very divine place
Of course these stories have a divine Yoga value that reveals important steps in meditation. You can find the yogic interpretation elsewhere.
Dattatreya was very spiritually inclined from childhood. He had 24 Gurus.
My 24 gurus are: 1. Earth, 2. Water, 3. Air, 4. Fire, 5. Sky, 6. Moon, 7. Sun, 8. Pigeon, 9. Python, 10. Ocean, 11. Moth, 12. Bee, 13. Honey-gatherer, 14. Elephant, 15. Deer, 16. Fish, 17. Dancing-girl Pingala, 18. Raven, 19. Child, 20. Maiden, 21.Serpent, 22. An arrow-maker, 23. Spider and 24. Beetle.”
These Gurus have a divine yogic interpretation Since he had 24 Gurus, this does not mean we can have more then one Guru. There cannot be more than one Guru. The bond between a Guru and disciple is unbreakable. If a disciple looks for more than one Guru, then it means the Guru was not perfect or the disciple was weak and did not have sufficient faith in Guru to progress. This creates a dilemma. Is my Guru inadequate or is my faith inadequate. How do you resolve this?
Datyatreya explains this in Tripura Rahasya. A perfect Guru has a deep understanding of the essence of everything in all scriptures. You can ask him anything from any scripture, he will have a clear explanation of the Yoga and meditation secret in the scriptures.
This would include the meaning of the stories above, seemingly absurd stories in all religions like Goliath, Jonah and the whale, all Hindu stories of multiple Goddesses, the story of Atri etc
Dattatreya is one of the immortals. Legend has it that he is still there. He was in Girnar during his young age. One can find signs of him being there. There are 5 peaks in Girnar. He is on the 5 the peak. Where he is now is anyone guess.
Dattatreya started the nath sampraday. ( Sampraday – tradition) Every person in the nath sampraday are immortal. I believe this started 12,000 years ago. The famous people in nath sampraday include, Gorakhnath, Nivrittinath, Gebinath, Gyaneshwar, Matsyendranath It is interesting to note that Nivrittinath and Gyaneshwar reached perfection at 5 and 7 years of age
So today is Dattatreya Jayanti – his birthday