In Hinduism, Atri(Sanskrit: अत्रि) or Attri is a legendary bard and scholar and was one of 9 Prajapatis, a son of Brahma, said to be ancestor of some Brahmin, Prajapatis, Kshatriya and Vaishya communities who adopt Atri as their gotra. Atri is one of the Saptarishi(Seven Great Sages) in the seventh, i.e. the present Manvantara.
Mahanirvana Tantra, translated by Arthur Avalon,(John Woodroffe), 1913, Introduction and Preface shows that The Rishi are seers who know and by their knowledge are the makers of shastra and see all mantras. The word comes from the root rish Rishati-prapnoti sarvvang mantrang jnanena pashyati sangsaraparangva, etc. The seven great Rishi or saptarshi of the first manvantara are Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulaha, Kratu, Pulastya and Vashishtha. In other manvantara there are other sapta-rishi. In present manvantara, the seven are Kashyapa, Atri, Vashishtha, Vishvamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni and Bharadwaja. To the Rishi the Vedas were revealed. Vyasa taught the Rigveda so revealed to Paila, the Yajurveda to Vaishampayana, the Samaveda to Jaimini, Atharvaveda to Samantu and Itihasa and Purana to Suta. The three chief classes of Rishi are the Brah-marshi, born of the mind of Brahma, the Devarshi of lower rank,and Rajarshi or Kings who became Rishis through their knowledge and austerities, such as Janaka, Ritaparna, etc. Thc Shrutarshi are makers of Shastras, as Sushruta. The Kandarshi are of the Karmakanda, such as Jaimini.
Atri Gotra originates in the lineage of Brahmarshi Atri and Anasuya Devi(Without-Spite). Anasuya is the daughter of Kardama Prajapati. Brahmarshi Atri is the seer in the fifth Mandala(chapter) of the Rigveda. Atri, also called The Devour-er represents the power of detachment. He is also the Manasa Putra and was born from the mind of Lord Brahma(from his eyes) to assist Lord Brahma in the act of creation. When the sons of Brahma were destroyed by a curse of Shiva, Atri was born again from the flames of a sacrifice performed by Brahma. His wife in both manifestations was Anasuya. She bore him three sons, Dattatreya, Durvasas and Soma, in his first life, and a son Aryaman(Nobility) and a daughter, Amala(Purity), in the second. Soma, Datta and Durvasa are the incarnations of the Divine Trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva respectively. The Trinity channeled their full creative potential through Brahmarshi Atri when they granted boons to his wife Devi Anasuya for helping the Sun to rise in the East every day.
Atri Gotra is from the lineage of Brahmarshi Atri and Anasuya Devi. Brahmarshi Atri is the seer of the fifth mandala(book) of the Rigveda. He had many sons, including Dattatreya, Durvasa who are the incarnations of the Divine Trinity Vishnu, Shiva respectively. The trimurti channeled through Brahmarsi Atri when they granted boons to his wife Devi Anusuya for helping the Sun to rise in the east everyday. Soma is called Chandratreya or Chandratre and Durvasa is Krishnatreya or Krishnatre. Soma in Hinduism, referred to Moon-God. Somatreya(Chandra) established the Someshwara Jyotirlinga, used to overcome all kinds of passion. Dattatreya, as the incarnation of Vishnu, has the power to cause any species to continue.
A Sapta Rishi
He is among the Saptarshi Mandala(seven luminous or eternal sages in the sky) symbolized by the Great Bear(or "Ursa Major" in Latin) and the seven stars around it, named Megrez in Arabic(the root of the tail). The star is also considered as δ(Delta) or the 4th star in the Great Bear constellation. Saptarshi, among several meanings, are described as "The seven solar rays"(Sapta-rishayaha) by the Rishi Yaska. Collectively, they are also called Pitarah, the Fathers.
Atri, who was born from Brahma's eyes and the Vishnu-Dharma, is said to rule the other stars of the Great Bear identifying Kratu with the star α Dubhe; Pulaha with β Merak; Pulastya with γ Phecda; Atri with δ Megrez; Angiras with ε Alioth; Vasishtha with ζ Mizar; Bhrigu with η Alkaid. According to the Puranic stories, Brahma went into deep meditation for several thousands of years, at the termination of which a drop of water fell from his eyes which took the form of the sage, Atri.
Prominence of the δ Megrez-Atri is signified by its position in the constellation rather than the magnitude of brightness. In that it can be observed that δ of the Great Bear, or Big Dipper, is the central star having on both sides three stars each. Symbolically, it holds both sides together by providing the point of focus.
Seer Of Rig Veda
He is the seer of the fifth Mandala(Book 5) of the Rigveda. Atri had many sons and disciples who have also contributed in the compilation of the Rig Veda and other Vedic texts. Mandala 5 comprises 87 hymns, mainly to Agni and Indra, but also to the Visvedevas("all the gods'), the Maruts, the twin-deity Mitra-Varuna and the Asvins. Two hymns each are dedicated to Ushas(the dawn) and to Savitr. Most hymns in this book are attributed to the Atri clan composers. Western indologists like Witzel and Max Muller claim that Rigveda was composed in the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent, most likely between c. 1500–1200 BCE, though a wider approximation of c. 1700–1100 BCE has also been given. It is certain that the hymns post-date Indo-Iranian separation of ca. 2000 BCE and probably that of the Indo-Aryan Mitanni documents of c. 1400 BC. The oldest mention of Rigveda in other sources dates from 600 BCE and the oldest available text from 1,200 BCE. Philological estimates tend to date the bulk of the text to the second half of the second millennium:
- Max Müller: "the hymns men of the Rig-Veda are said to date from 1500 B.C."
- Thomas Oberlies(Die Religion des Rgveda, 1998, p. 158) based on 'cumulative evidence' sets wide range of 1700–1100.
- The EIEC (s.v. Indo-Iranian languages, p. 306) gives 1500–1000.
- Flood and Witzel both mention c.1500-1200 BCE.
- Anthony mentions c.1500-1300.
Some writers out of the mainstream claim to trace astronomical references in the Rigveda, dating it to as early as 4000 BC, a date corresponding to the Neolithic late Mehrgarh culture; summarized by Klaus Klostermaier in a 1998 presentation, Shrikant Talageri claims that Witzel's work is flawed and claims that earliest parts of Rig Veda are composed in India based on philological evidence.
Atri Shastra & Agama
In the Vaishnava tradition, Agamas attributed to sage Atri are found in two main schools Pancharatra and Vaikhanasas. Originally Vikhanasa sage passed on the knowledge Vaikhanasa-kalpa –sutra to nine disciples in the First Manvantara to Atri, Bhrigu, Marichi, Kashyapa, Vasishta, Pulaha, Pulasthya, Krathu and Angiras. Only those of Bhrigu, Marichi, Kashyapa and Atri are extant today. The four rishis are said to have received the esoteric knowledge of Vishnu from the first Vikahansa, i.e., the older Brahma in the Svayambhuva Manvanthara. Thus, those sages Atri, Bhrigu, Marichi, Kashyapa, are considered the propagators of Vaikhanasa Shastra.
Atri is credited with four works spread over 88,000 verses composed in anustuph chhandas: Purvatantra, Atreyatantra, Vishnutantra and Uttaratantra. However, in Ananda Samhita written by the sage Marichi, he attributes to Atri : Purvatantra, Visnutantra, Uttaratantra and Mahatantra. Vatavarana Shastra, attributed to Atri, deals with clouds, their categorization and characteristics, 12 different kinds of rain, 64 types of lightning, 33 types of thunderbolts, etc. The Bhrigu, Atri and Marichi Samhitas go into different aspects of architecture of Vaikhanasa Vishnu temples, while other fragments cover Chitra karma or painting of pictures of deities. In Charaka Samhita, Atri occupies an important position as a preceptor in the dissemination of the discipline of Ayurveda.
Atri Maharishi is one of the ten sons of Creator Brahma and first of the Saptha Rishis, created by just the will of the Almighty and therefore designated as a Maanasa-putras. There were ten of these. Atri's wife is Anasuya or Anusiya devi, a daughter of Kardama Prajapati and an embodiment of chastity.
His Main Role In Mahabharata
He had a close connection with Mahabharata. Drona was the head of the Kaurava army after Bhishma's fall. Dronacharya fought ferociously. The wounded and the dead soldiers were in the thousands. Their cry of pain rent the skies. Blood flowed on the battlefield. Dead bodies piled up and provided the food for the birds of prey. In this carnage which went beyond all human estimation, Drona stood like a mad hero of demonic proportion.
Sage Atri was very worried because if Drona continued this he would cause destruction and human misery beyond proportions, Atri and Gautama Maharishi came to the battlefield along with five of their companions. It was at this time Yudhishthira had shouted at the instance of Sri Krishna saying that Ashwathama was killed so as to discourage Drona from fighting any longer, which is widely regarded as one of the most cowardly acts in the entire Mahabharata. This put Drona off completely. He lost all hope in his life. He became mad with anger. This sent danger signal all around.
Sage Atri felt sad for him and talked to him in a friendly manner, consoling him, Dear friend, all along you have done everything against Dharma. This war you are engaged in is the best proof. It is enough and stop it. Stop this carnage. You are a good man. This act is not in tune with your status.
You are a scholar of Vedanta par excellence. You have been a Brahman and you have to practise dharma. This cruel act does not befit you. Give up your weapons, fix your mind in our glorious Sanathana Dharma. I am sorry, you have wielded the most terrible Brahmastra on the innocent soldiers! Put an end to your meaningless killing.'
When Atri said that, Dronacharya decided to give up his arms and stop killing. He drove away his anger, jealousy, and sense of revenge and his heart became pure. He sat in a yogic posture and started to meditate amidst the cries of pain, killing, flow of blood on the battlefield. He concentrated on Lord Vishnu and closed his eyes and never opened them again until he left his body and started his journey towards the lord. Hence Sage Atri's kind nature helped save him.
Trinity Test Of Anasuya
Once trinity decided to test the chastity of Anasuya. They came to Anasuyaa's house as Brahmins and request for food with the condition that she has to serve it nude. Anasuyaa without any hesitation agreed to that. In turn she used her pativrita shakti to convert the Brahmins into child and offered them food without any dress. Trinity could revert to their original form only after she did herself on the request of gods. Trinity blessed them with three sons being sons: Dattatreya, Soma or Chandraatri and Krishnaatri or Durvasa.
Rama, the son of Dasharatha, visited Atri Maharishi's Ashram during his fourteen years of stay in the forest. It was Atri who showed the way to Dandakaranya forest to Rama, after showering his hospitality on him.
Atri Maharishi is considered to be one of the great discoverers of sacred Mantras of Hinduism. In his family line there were a few other seers of mantras namely: Shaavaashva, Avishtir and Purvaatithi. There were also other great Rishis in that line: Mudgala, Uddaalaki, Shaakalaayani, Chaandogya, etc.
Atri-samhita and Atri-smriti are two works attributed to Atri.
Till the present day, a number of Brahmin families have this sage's name at the head of their lineage, which indicates that he or his descendents tutored that whole lineage.
Sons of Atri
In Hinduism, Durvasa rishi is an ancient sage, son of Atri and Anasuya. He is supposed to be an incarnation of Shiva. He is supposed to be the only rishi whose penance goes up whenever he curses somebody. He is known for his short temper. Maledictions or curses he gave in his rage (known as Shapa) ruined many lives. Hence, wherever he went, he received great reverence from humans and Gods alike. For example, in Abhigyāna Shakuntala, written by Kalidasa, he curses the maiden Shakuntala that her lover will forget her. It became true.
The confrontation of sage Durvasa with Ambarisha is a very famous story in Shrimad Bhagavatam. Ambarish was a great devotee of Vishnu and adhered firmly to the truth. He performed a Yagnya with such great devotional fervour that Lord Narayan was pleased to bless him with Sudarshana Chakra (Sudarshana meaning "good looking") and which manifested as a wheel of prosperity, peace and security to his kingdom. Once, Ambarisha performed the Dvadasi Vratha, which required that the king must start a fast on Ekadashi and break it at the start of Dvadasi and feed all the people. As the moment of breaking the fast was drawing near, the mighty sage Durvasa arrived and was received with all honours by Ambarish. Durvasa agreed to the king's request to be his honoured guest, and asked the king to wait until he finished his bath in the river and returned. As the auspicious moment approached when the king had to break his fast to fulfill the vow of the vratha, Durvasa did not turn up. On the advice of the sage Vasishtha, the king broke his fast by taking a Tulasi leaf with water, and waited for the arrival of sage Durvasa to offer him food.
In one version of the story, Durvasa felt that Ambarisha had violated the respect due to a guest by breaking his fast before the guest had taken his meal, and in his rage wanted to curse the king. Ambarisha prayed to Vishnu and was all set to take the curse upon himself, when Lord Vishnu intervenes to save his devotee Ambareesha and thus asks Durvasa to curse him instead. Durvasa, fore-seeing how it would immensely benefit the universe, cursed Lord Vishnu that He be reborn on this earth several times which resulted in Lord Vishnu's avatars on this earth to liberate mankind.
In another version, the angered Durvasa created a demon to kill Ambarisha, out of a strand of his hair. Lord Narayan's Sudarshana intervened, destroyed the demon and started chasing Durvasa himself. Durvasa went to Brahma and Shiva for protection. Both pleaded their inability to save him. He went to Lord Narayan himself, who said that he could do nothing as he was bound by the blemishless devotion of Ambarisha and suggested that the sage should seek the king's pardon. Durvasa went to Ambarisha, who prayed to Lord Vishnu to recall the Sudarsana and save Durvasa.
In Mahābhārata, during the exile of the Pandavas, Durvasa turns up with several disciples at the place where the Pandavas were staying. During this period, the Pandavas obtained their food by means of the Akshaya Patra, which would become exhausted for the day once Draupadi finished her meal. When Durvasa arrived there was no food left to serve him, and the Pandavas were very anxious as to what would be their fate if they failed to feed such a venerable sage. While Durvasa and his disciples were away at the banks of the river bathing, Draupadi prayed to Lord Krishna for help. As always, they were once again saved by Him, who visited them, and partook of the lone grain of rice that remained in the Akshaya Patra and announced that He was satisfied by the meal. This satiated the hunger of Durvasa and all his disciples too, as the satisfaction of Lord Krishna meant the satiation of the hunger of the whole Universe. The sage and his disciples then left, blessing the Pandavas.
But on the other hand he was also famous for his boons if he grew happy with someone. An example in this context would be the boon he gave to Kunti, wife of Pandu and mother of the mighty Pandavas which enabled her to call or invoke any god of her choice. It was by the use of this mantra which Durvasa gave her that she was able to call the following gods:
Surya—he blessed her with a son named Karna. Dharma—he blessed her with a son named Yudhishthira, eldest of the Pandavas. Vayu—he blessed her with a son named Bhima, the mightiest of all Pandavas. Indra—he blessed her with a son named Arjuna, the great archer and Ashwini Gods—they blessed Madri (Pandu's second wife) with twins named Nakula and Sahadeva.
Dattatreya (Sanskrit: दत्तात्रेय) is considered by Hindus to be God who is an incarnation of Supreme Lord Vishnu . The word Datta means "Given", Datta is called so because the divine trinity have "given" themselves in the form of a son to the sage couple Atri and Anasuya. He is the son of Atri, hence the name "Atreya."
In the Nath tradition, Dattatreya is recognized as an Avatar or incarnation of the Lord Siva and as the Adi-Guru (First Teacher) of the Adinath Sampradaya of the Nathas. Although Dattatreya is also "Lord of Yoga" exhibiting distinctly Tantric & devotional service; while still worshiped by millions of Hindus, he is approached more as a benevolent god & teacher of devotional service to Siva as a teacher of the highest essence of Indian thought & only then as a teacher of Tantra & Tantric.
- Flood 1996, p. 37.
- Witzel 1995, p. 4.
- Guru Charithra
- Anthony, David W. (2007), The Horse The Wheel And Language. How Bronze-Age Riders From the Eurasian Steppes Shaped The Modern World, Princeton University Press
- Flood, Gavin D. (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press
- Kambhampati, Parvathi Kumar (2000). Sri Dattatreya (First ed.). Visakhapatnam: Dhanishta.
- Rigopoulos, Antonio (1998). Dattatreya: The Immortal Guru, Yogin, and Avatara. New York: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-3696-9
- Witzel, Michael (1995), "Early Sanskritization: Origin and Development of the Kuru state" (PDF), EJVS vol. 1 no. 4 (1995)
- Practical and scientific articles about Lord Dattatreya
- Information on Shri Dattatreya – Datta Guru
- Sree Guru Charitra in English by Acharya Ekkirala Bharadwaja