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International Day for Biological Diversity and 24 Gurus of Avaduta from Bhagavat Purana 

May 22, 2022 Authored by: Rajabhishek Dey

“O Maharaja Parikshit! The Yadu dynasty is getting ruined to pay for the curse of Brahmashap and now Sri Krishna will return back to Vaikuntha soon. This news made the Devatas relaxed”, narrated Sukdev to King Parikshit, “And for the last time, to see the beauty of his earthly body, Brahma visited Dwarka to meet and praise the Lord.

Brahma said- O Supreme Lord, the good people of the upcoming Kali Yuga will pass the cycle of birth and rebirth by listening to and admiring the great character and example you have set for us”.

Sri Sukdev continued saying- “O King, seeing and listening Brahma and others, Krishna has declared that he had kept his promise by fulfilling the motives of the Devatas and now as the Yadus are destroyed, he planned on to return to his own Loka.

Then, seeing the various natural calamities occurring at Dwarka, Sri Krishna warned and took the Yadavas to Prabhas Tirtha. Meanwhile, devotee Udvab, who has permanently surrendered himself on Sri Krishna’s feet, appeared there with great haste, realizing the motive of the divine. He insisted joining two palms together , ‘As you know, I cannot put you away of my sight for a single moment, please take me wherever you are going. I will serve you every time and overcome the Maya of the Samsara.’

The Yadavas were in dejected mood with gloomy faces, leaving behind Dwarkapuri and busy arranging their luggage on street. With all their horses, elephants and chariots they have come to Prabhas now. Standing at one side, in front of the chaos, Krishna is chilling up smiling silently, while his companion Udvab is staring at his face without blinking his mesmerized eyes and blocking his Lord’s path as a proud devotee. Sri Krishna reminds him of the conclusion that whatever route one takes, as one’s devotion is lacking, the whole practice would fail- while clarifying the various Ashramas, Yoga, positive impact of good company and signs of liberation to Udvab. He also summarized the concept of self-knowledge and asceticism to him. Warning that from the 7th day from now, the sea will engulf the land of Dwarka, he instructed him to depart from Samsara and head off traveling across the whole world. Further, to the purpose of the conversation going on, he aptly narrated to him the tale of Yudu Raja and Abadhuta and his 24 Gurus. Krishna proposed that to find the path of salvation, better late than never, Udvab must know and surrender himself to the creator through traveling and attentively watching his creation through nature and living beings- where the Lord himself has already unrolled and immersed himself in numerous forms!

Once, King Yadu was roaming immersed in his own thought and will in a dense forest and at once encountered a Brahmin coming on his way- free from any stress, dawdling happily! He was Lord Dattatreya, an Abadhuta, a great scholar and whose personality was enough to brighten up the whole surrounding but his mind was still innocent like a kid. The king curiously asked him what captivated him to split up from the society of living up a life in the fast lane and now wandering like a child, admiring the nature and the sky alone. He replied, – O Rajan, it is great to know about your spirit of inquiry! Try to leave no stone unturned. Look at this entire creation! I am glad to tell you the way I have thankfully accepted and followed the characteristics and natures of different creations through my thorough observation and self-surrender!

Dattatreya and the 24 gurus

-My first Guru is this telluric planet called the Earth, persistent in duties and fixed in its cycles. Many people are doing wrong on this ground and she is tolerating everything and forgiving everyone. Here, the virtue of endurance, patience and art of forgiveness and performing duty is what I have learned from her.

-Well, my second guru, whom I have admired is this blowing wind, carrying various sorts of odors to different parts and flows both in hot and cold regions- without being contaminated by the things it carries and the areas where it moves! From here, through thick and thin I have learned to accept indifferences and not to react to everything provoking me.

-Next, my third instructor is the one who is all-pervading, both between and outside everything and not partial towards anything. However, it does not get corrupted by any influence and is beyond the reach of material nature. Can you guess it? It is the sky from whom I have learned this wonderful loneliness but omnipresence.

– Without a doubt, my next and fourth teacher is the one, drinking which people quench their thirst, and become pure and clean after taking bath with it. Yes, you have guessed it right. Always satisfy others with sweet and gentle words and advice about Dharma and sanctify them with purity and cleanliness of mind. It nurtures humble plant life that lies on its way in the lower land as it flows down from the higher altitude and wipes away the brazen flora forms there. Yes, you are correct! It is the water.

-Further, I have chosen the fire as my fifth guru who is present in any object and discloses itself through friction. Similarly, the divine is present in everything and can be aroused through penance and devotion. You should grow brighter through austerities like fire and get illumined with knowledge.

-Look how the waxing and waning of the moon take place. But, the moon itself does not have any expansion or breaking down in any of its phases. In the same way, the time moving towards an unending journey forward created the birth, growth, change, decadence, old age and finally destruction of the whole body. Nonetheless, the soul does not undergo any transformation. It is indestructible. Growth and decaying is the nature of body that I have caught this from my angelic sixth guru-the moon!

-I am proud to open up that the majestic and dazzling sun is my seventh guide. Reflected on million puddles though it seems different, we know it is the same. With its rays, it controls the emotions on the earth and helps in raining with the water that it stored previously as clouds and later showers that on the land generating plants and crops at the suitable time. Likewise, if you take something from anyone, try to return it in manifold times and store useful resources such that you can pass them to everybody impartially. 

-Moreover, my eighth guru is an unfortunate wild innocent pigeon which has taught me something but in a negative way. Due to excessive fondness, it fell with Maya for its children and ultimately gave up life in deep sorrow as it found its progenies lying dead, devastated and eaten up by a brutal falcon. This incident has taught me that loving the own is not bad but extra and obsessive attachment and unnecessary possessiveness is the root of destruction.

-My ninth guru, the sluggish python does not try for arranging food and instead lies at one specific place without any fear and leaving everything to destiny. It intakes and stays satisfied with whatever comes to it and despite having enormous strength never applies to own self. It showed me that it is not mandatory and duty to try hard in giving extra protection to our bodies and instead, stay immersed in meditation.

-Then, there is my tenth guru, the rich and massive blue sea. It does not swell up even in rainy season and does not become dry in summer. So, don’t be proud of increase in wealth and demoralized with shrink of resources such as the sea is like always immersed in bliss. Look to your laurels but do not rest on it!

-Moreover, my eleventh guru is the insect that give away their life as they get attracted and march towards the tempting radiance of fire. Remember! addiction to women can lead to hell.

-Excessive addiction to savings may bring danger as the bee gathers more honey to its collection and finally gets deprived of it by the honey collector. This, I have observed from the activities of my twelfth guru, the bee. Accumulation of treasure is not the path to liberation and one must stop amassing material assets.

-My thirteenth and grand guru who drew my attention is the large and docile elephant. A strong male elephant falls under the trap of humans by getting attracted to the female creature of its species made of wood placed on a pit dug on the ground, covered with grass. It eventually gets caught and ends up doing slavery for humans. Hence, don’t fall into such a trap of sensual pleasures to live a miserable and enslaved life. Look before you leap!

-Again, my fourteenth guru is the honey bee whose honey is extracted and used up by the thief. Thus, the money saved by greedy and misers is enjoyed by others.

-My fifteenth educator is the musk deer. Though a swift runner as the wind, it gets attracted to the hunter’s trap fascinated and provoked by the melodious music of a flute. What do you learn from here? Yes, even a small matter, but seemingly sweet matter can be pleasant enough to make you face the music for you.

-Now, I will introduce my sixteenth guide, the easy mark-fish! You know how it is approached towards death. It rushes to swallow the food tied to the hook of the bait. Thus, lust for our tongue can prove harmful. Though the other senses are conquered till the boundary of worldly lust is crossed over we cannot win ourselves.

-My next and seventeenth mentor’s name is Pingala, the prostitute. In the hope to bring the most adorable and wealthy lover and client for her, the lascivious woman stood outside her door wearing a nice and attractive dress and jeweleries. However, none came and approached her. Thus, counting on worldly hopes are root of sorrow and frustration. Abandoning the desires is happiness and acknowledging the all-knowing to be the only master is the source of pleasure and peace. This rejection of expectations cooled down Pingala with sound sleep.

-After that, in the hawk in trouble, I have found my eighteenth master. Till it had managed a piece of fish and kept with itself, all crows and eagles were attacking it. Disturbed by the chase and closed down by the pecking and harassment, as it leaves the food, the flock left the first bird and jumped over the flesh. Thus, the first bird-of-prey became relieved and calm. Similarly, we become comfortable as we manage to sacrifice the lust for objects and sense of objects.

-The nineteenth helper is the little baby child who is innocent, carefree and without any ego and arrogance. No senses can put a poor impact on him. Thus, this baby Guru has taught me how to rise above the senses, appreciation and humiliation, happiness and sorrow and become confident leaving away any kind of skepticism.

– Now, my twentieth educator is a teen girl. She had many bangles in her hand that created noise but when she wore only one bracelet, no sound was there. Hence, the company of many people gives rise to unnecessary words, conversations and quarrels- just more loudness! So, learn to leave alone and isolated. It is favorable and safe for recalling the divine in seclusion.

– I have given the position of my twenty-first trainer to an arrow-smith. His mind was fully focused and attended to making arrows. Even if the ruler of nation passed by him, with his procession celebrated by loud and joyous music, he did not notice him. This concentration is what I have taken from him.

– The crooked serpent roaming homeless but alert every time never making any sound is the twentieth-second one to whom I have surrendered myself. You will never find two snakes living or wandering together. Notice, they also do not make a home for own self. People who have indulged themselves in thinking must not mix up in a group, speak limited words, act and move thoughtfully and never address others for quarrel.

– I have followed the qualities of the spider, my twenty-third instructor who generates saliva from inside to make his home, plays on the web all the day and as its task is done it finishes up swallowing it again and gets free. Similarly, the Almighty creates the world, resides inside it and finally, rolls up everything within itself.

– My last and twenty-fourth mentor is the tiny caterpillar from whom I have studied that by thinking about the qualities and forms of God, we can attain God-hood. For this, I picked up the fact that this insect is a favorite of the wasp, which catches it as soon as it falls on its path. Then, it takes it to the tiny mud house it has built. The worm, on the other side, cannot focus on anything else apart from that wasp, so affrightedly, that it itself eventually becomes another wasp.

Do you know that in addition to these 24 idols, I have also another guru? It is my body. It is constantly dying and we must hurry up in preparing it for the service of God. This rare birth in a human body will only be successful and meaningful if we realize the divine for our own. Think over, if this guru was not there and I ran out of inner strength, could I gain the privilege to get the point of the 24 gurus I mentioned? I would also reveal one last thing. The first eight gurus whom I recalled are my common teachers. The next three are excellent icons to know inside out, but the rest are just extra-ordinary”.

Summarizing the nature of the above Gurus, once again:

The Gurus Symbolic Teaching
Earth Dharma.
Wind Freedom of Truth.
The Sun, Moon and Ocean Unchanging nature of truth.
Sky Infinite nature of self.
Spider Transient nature of material world.
Moth, Elephant, Deer and Fish Distraction and destruction caused by desires.
Pigeon, Honeybee, hawk and Pingala To stay away from worldly attachments.
Child Happiness of freedom from material care.
Python and Honeybee Benefits of simple living.
Fire and Water Power to purify the contamination of material world.
Maiden and Snake Distraction caused by unwanted things.
Arrowsmith To stay focused and concentrated on the aim.
Caterpillar Through concentrating on the divine, one can attain divinity.

References:

Bhagavat Purana, Sachitra Kisore Puran Samagra by Deen Bhaktadas, Akshyay Library

https://sivanandayogafarm.org/blog/24-gurus-of-dattatreya-nature-is-the-greatest-teacher/

http://muneshkumarkella.blogspot.com/2013/05/lord-dattatreya-and-his-24-gurus.html

‘Om India’ – a mythologic painting by Thomas Ziebarth


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