Residence in Sahyadri

After blessing the steadfast ascetics Dattatreya returned home. Anasuya, not knowing where her darling son had gone all these years, had waited in anguish for his return. This was overcome with joy on seeing the object of her love again.

Making prostrations to his Mother’s feet, Dattatreya said “Mother, for the sake of the devotees I have to go and reside in the caves of Sahyadri, Please permit me to do so” Anasuya had been just comforting herself with the thought that her son had atlast come back after so many years, but now she was shocked that he was about to leave her again. She felt as though her heart was breaking.

Though Anasuya had observed great austerities for a very long time, she was now in the worldly grip of motherly attachment to her son. She wept and told him that he could not leave them. But Dattatreya obstinately insisted on leaving. Anasuya’s suffering was unbearable. Overcome by grief and attachment, she cried and pleaded with him. But Dattatreya stuck obstinately to his resolve. At last, when she could no longer control her sorrow and anger, she said – “Datta, you may be a Yogi, you may even be a Guru to your disciples, but don’t forget that you are my son. Don’t ever forget that the skin-covered body of yours was given by me. Therefore, if you want to go, first give me back this skin, that I have given to you”.

On hearing this Dattatreya stood unmoved and smiled gently. Seeing him smile, Anasuya wondered what this meant. Dattatreya peeled off his skin as though he was removing a coat and gave it to his mother.

When she saw the skinless disfigured form of Dattatreya radiating great lustre, her gaze suddenly truned inward. She beheld the divine light and thus obtained infinite bliss and lasting peace.

On experiencing bliss uncontaminated by sorrow, Anasuya became tranquil. Thus illumined by her son Datta, she gave him back his skin, and addressed him humbly, “Guru Datta, you are world-teacher incarnated to lead the world from darkness to light. You are beyond time and beyond birth and death. You have revealed the truth to me. Hereafter, you may dwell in Sahyadri according to your desire and reign over the hearts of your devotees. May the Universe attain prosperity.

With great satisfaction Dattatreya left for Sahyadri.

Making Sahyadri the centre of his activities and receiving devotees from the three worlds, by protecting the good and punishing the wicked, Dattatreya ruled over the kingdom of Yoga. Yet his actions continued to be rather unusual. They remained incomprehensible for most. Sometimes he would assume the pleasing and peaceful form of an ascetic; at other times he would take on a detestable form. Whatever form he assumed and whatever his superficial appearance, he always remained established in Yoga. There was never a decline in his Yoga.

The mere mental recitation of his name is enough to burn away all the sins of man. There are no better means than his stories to purify human hearts. His pastimes and stories are innumerable. The wies ones say that it is not possible even for the thousand headed Sesa to describe them in detail.

The fact that Dattatreya incarnated as a human being and saved many souls is not a great thing. But that even the devatas, including Indra, approached Dattatreya when they were in trouble and attained their objectives is a thing of gread joy and wonder.

Among the divine sports of Dattatreya, the killing of Jambhasura is only a very major one.