Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 02 Jan 2003


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Does God Favor the Rich?

Some people criticize the Human Incarnation of God saying that He concentrates more on rich people than on poor people. But they should remember that all human beings are children of God. The father concentrates on the child, who is suffering from cancer. Although cancer is incurable, the father still attempts to do something for the child. He is more concerned with that child and pays more attention to it. A rich man is a serious case and is very dangerous to others. He has all the power to do sins and disturb the peace of the world. Keeping him on the right path or even controlling him temporarily is very important for the peace of the world. So the Human Incarnation pays more attention to him, in order to protect the world. A poor man cannot disturb the peace of the world, because he has no power of money. He is always involved in earning his livelihood. So he is not too dangerous. Without knowing this inner truth, people criticize the Incarnation.

Knowledge of the Goal and the Path

Knowledge of the right goal and the knowledge of the right path are both very essential. Suppose your aim is to go the biggest city and enjoy, then you must have the right knowledge of that city. There are several big cities. Which is the biggest city? First you must know it. Similarly, there are several forms of God. Which is the real form of God? You must know that. After knowing the name of the biggest city, you must know the right path to reach that big city. Similarly, you must know the right path to reach the real God. So what is the essence of all this? Knowledge is very important. If you have no knowledge of the biggest city, you may reach a small city. Even if you have the knowledge of the biggest city, if you don’t have the knowledge of the right path to reach that city, you may travel on the wrong path and reach a forest.

Duty of the teacher

[In order to get the knowledge of God, one must go to the Guru or the spiritual teacher.] The essential duty of a Guru is to preach the right knowledge to the people who approach him. These people serve the Guru in several ways like pressing his feet, giving bhiksha (donation of food), giving dakshina (donation of money) etc. If the Guru keeps silent, it is not justified. You pay fees to the teacher and what if the teacher simply keeps silent? Is it justified on his part to take the fees? Some Gurus are giving wrong knowledge and they will be punished in hell, because they have misled people, after taking fees from them. Suppose one doctor takes fees from the patient and just keeps silent. Another doctor takes fees from the patient but gives wrong medicines due to his inefficiency and kills the patient. Both these doctors are criminals. God punishes the Gurus who do not preach and also those Gurus who preach the wrong knowledge, because they have accepted service (or money) from the people, who surrendered to them.

Knowledge from the Sadguru

The Sadguru [1] (teacher of true knowledge of God, who is also a Human Incarnation of God) gives the right knowledge, even without your service. You can serve Him only when you are convinced. Your service to Him will help Him in helping others. In fact, a Sadguru does not need your service because He is God Himself. He can help others by His own powers. But you will not get the right benefit from Him, because you did not show gratefulness to Him. Suppose a doctor gives you medicines for some illness without asking for fees and you get cured. If you do not pay his fees due to your greediness, even though you are capable of paying, you will die with a new disease. So, only for your own safety, the Sadguru advises you to participate in service.

Service to Sadguru

Service done to the Sadguru consists of two parts:

  1. Paying the fees in terms of money, which you have earned by your work.
  2. Doing some work for the Guru.

You can do either of these or both as per you convenience. When you have taken meals in a restaurant, either you must pay the bill or do some work in the restaurant. You can even partly pay the bill and partly do some work. Paying money as fees to the Sadguru is called as karma phala tyaga. Working to serve the Sadguru is called karma samnyasa. Both these put together is called karma yoga or service. This is explained clearly in the Bhagavad Gita. Similarly, you must either pay the fees to the doctor or do some work in return such as by working as his assistant. Without doing either of these two, if you simply praise the doctor by words or express your love, by feelings, what is the use of all these?

The spiritual meal

Your prayers and meditation are of no use, without service. Your prayers and meditation are like pickles (side items). They are to be served in the plate with the bread or rice (main item), which is service. Prayers and meditation without service is like serving pickles without bread or rice.

You are offering the plate with mere pickles as meals for God. When God eats only the pickles, His stomach burns (due to the spicy pickles) and He will be furious with you. Even if pickles were absent, the rice or chapatti (bread) could have been eaten by itself. Hanuman, participated in the work of God [2], and did prayers and meditation as well. That is like a plate with a full meal, which consists of service as well as prayer and meditation. I am only saying that prayer and meditation should be associated with service. If you are unable to do prayers and meditation, you need not bother. You can do service alone. God will bless you.

God and Worship

Knowledge of God and the path to reach Him

The real form of God is Lord Datta (Dattatreya). The scriptures say that God is only one and that One God alone, creates, rules and destroys the universe. Lord Datta is the One who creates through the face of Brahma, rules through the face of Vishnu and destroys through the face of Shiva [3]. In no other form of God, is this definition of the scriptures fulfilled. The right path is to do service to Him, without aspiring for anything in return from Him. When somebody serves you, without expecting anything from you, how happy you are with him! Similarly, Lord Datta becomes happiest with your selfless service. This is indeed the right path.

Identifying Lord Datta

The next question is how to identify Lord Datta. The scriptures call Lord Datta as being of the nature of knowledge and bliss. The Bhagavad Gita says that Lord Datta comes in human form only to satisfy His human devotees. You cannot get full satisfaction worshipping a statue or a picture because it does not talk with you or clear your doubts. The Gita says that if you worship inert objects, you will be reborn as an inert object. If you worship the human form, you will get human rebirth. The scriptures say that Lord Datta is the Guru (Sadguru). You call only a teacher as Guru. You do not call a doctor, engineer or a lawyer as Guru.

So that human form, who gives you the Knowledge that creates Bliss in your heart is Lord Datta and you have to recognize Him by this way only.

Today, ignorant people think that any human form that does miracles is Lord Datta. However, demons and devils also do miracles. Are they God? In the past, even when they claimed to be God, the sages never agreed. Miracles are only like jewels of God, which can be given to others by God. If the king donates his jewels to a beggar, does the beggar become the king? Demons and devils are also children of God. They take the powers to do miracles from God, by doing severe penance. If your child insists on having your gold chain, will you not give it to that weeping child? When the child wears that gold chain, will the child become the father? Similarly, by getting powers from God, one does not become God. Knowledge is the shape and bliss is the beauty of God. The child can get the gold chain from his father, but not the shape and beauty of the father. Similarly, demons and devils may get the powers from God to do miracles, but they cannot get the knowledge and bliss of God. A real devotee recognizes God in human form by His blissful knowledge and not by His miracles. A queen recognizes her husband, who is the king, by the inseparable shape and beauty of her husband and not by his jewels. A foolish queen requires the crown and jewels, to identify her husband. She rejects her husband, if he comes to her without the crown and the jewels. If a thief comes with that crown and jewels, the foolish queen mistakes him to be her husband.

Actually, people like miracles, because through miracles they can detect the existence of the powers of God, in that human form. Then they want to use the powers for their selfish ends, like getting wealth, curing diseases etc. This is not selfless love and so it is not the right path to reach God. Hence miracles actually harm devotees. Hanuman recognized Lord Rama as God in human form, even though Rama did not show any miracles. Nobody is more intelligent than Hanuman in the spiritual path.

About image and idol worship

I am not condemning statues and pictures. They have limited use. When your son is in a foreign country, you keep his photograph with you, just to see him in his absence. A photograph is meant for that purpose only. You cannot talk with the photograph. The Veda says, “Drastavyah” i.e., you must see God. Temples are built only for this purpose. You can wash and decorate the idol. But there is no necessity of offering food to it. The temple priest, who just maintains the statue in the temple, can earn his livelihood (by working). Why should he take the food offered to the statue? Why should he earn his food based on falsehood, when there is an alternative to earn based on the truth? A Guru must preach by referring to the Vedas, Shastras, Gita etc, which are the scriptures. An advocate, while arguing in court, must refer to the relevant sections in the constitution. Merely talking about spirituality without Vedic (scriptural) authority [4] is not valid.


Lord Datta is the Incarnation of the highest knowledge. Humbleness is the fruit of the knowledge. So Lord Datta is most humble, without any trace of ego. Datta Avatars (Incarnations of Datta) will not have even a trace of ego and they will attribute the entire credit of any great thing done by them to the inner Lord Datta alone.

An Incarnation is just like a metal wire through which electric current (Datta) is passing. From the point of view of the devotees, the Incarnation must be treated as Lord Datta Himself because the wire when touched anywhere, gives an electric shock, which is characteristic of the electric current. The wire has attained all the characteristic properties of the current and so the electric wire must be treated as electricity. This identity between God and His Human Incarnation is Advaita [5] (non-duality, monism). The current pervades all over the wire. Both the current and the wire are inseparable. So the devotee must worship the Incarnation as Lord Datta since there is no other way to worship Lord Datta. One cannot have a direct contact with Lord Datta. So an Advaita attitude is a must from the point of view of the devotee.

However, there should not be Advaita (non-duality) from the point of view of the Human Incarnation of God. The Incarnation must always think that he is only the metal wire and not the electric current. Parashurama [6], an Incarnation of Datta, thought that he had killed all the evil kings. That is why he was insulted at the hands of Lord Rama, who was the next Incarnation of the Lord. Hanuman, though an Incarnation himself, was a devotee of Lord Rama and even defeated Lord Rama in battle because he always gave all the credit to Lord Datta. Shirdi Sai Baba [7], an Incarnation of Datta, always said that He was the servant of God (Allah Malik). The Incarnation might not always declare the truth that He is an Incarnation. But He always knows the truth inside. If He says the truth with His own mouth, the Advaita angle of the devotee might be disturbed [8]. But sometimes the Incarnation says it with His own mouth to test whether the devotee is actually having the Advaita angle or not. In the Human Incarnation, both Advaita (non-duality) and Dvaita [9] (duality) co-exist at the same time from two different angles. Hence, Shankara [10], who taught that Advaita is correct, is right and Ramanuja [11] and Madhva [12], who taught that Dvaita (duality) is correct, are also right. If the devotee thinks that the Incarnation is Dvaita (different from God), he is lost and if the Incarnation thinks that He is Advaita (identical with God), He is also lost.

Avoiding false Incarnations

Lord Datta hides in His Human Incarnation and does everything. Yet He gives the credit to the Incarnation. If the Incarnation is real, He will immediately divert all the credit back to Lord Datta, who is hiding in Him. If the so-called Incarnation is only an ordinary man, he should immediately pass on the credit to Lord Datta at least in his mind. If he thinks that he has done anything great, then he can never be the real Incarnation of Lord Datta because Lord Datta does not reside where ego exists. If you claim to be an Incarnation of Lord Datta, then you are Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma created the Vedas [13]. Then why do you not quote your own Vedas at every step in your preaching? This will clearly eliminate all the false Incarnations of Lord Datta.

Sometimes to satisfy the jealousy of devotees, the Incarnation has to speak Dvaita (showing as if He is different from God). If Advaita is spoken (that He is identical with God), the devotee gets repelled due to the jealousy that one naturally has for any other human being.

[1] Sadguru or Satguru comes from Sat (Truth, God) + Guru (teacher, preacher). Thus Sadguru can mean a true Guru or a Guru who is God Himself.

[2] Hanuman was the second most important character in the historical epic Ramayana. Lord Rama, the central character in the epic was an Incarnation of Lord Vishnu (God in the form of the Maintainer of creation), while Hanuman, who was an ardent devotee of Rama, was an Incarnation of Lord Shiva (God in the form of the Destroyer of creation). He was also a general among the Vanaras, an ape-like race of forest-dwellers. Hanuman is the ideal servant of God. He is an important Hindu deity, who is widely worshipped by Hindus even today.

[3] Lord Datta is depicted as having three heads of Brahma (God in the form of the Creator), Vishnu (God in the form of the Maintainer of creation) and Shiva (God in the form of the Destroyer of creation).

[4] In discussing about spiritual concepts it is important to refer to the Veda (scriptures) and show the agreement of the scriptures with one’s statements.

[5] The commonly understood essense of the Advaita philosophy is that the soul of every person is identical (non-duality) with God (Brahman), and is the eternal, all-pervasive, unchanging, conscious and blissful Existence. It is also thought that the difference between objects in creation and the difference between creation and the Creator is only apparent (mithya) and unreal. However, Swami explains that the soul can be considered as identical to God only in the Human Incarnation of God; not in the case of an ordinary soul. Creation is unreal only for God; not for an ordinary soul. An ordinary soul is totally different from God. 

[6] Parashurama, a sage was pervaded by the Lord’s power (Avesha Avatara) to carry out the task of destroying the powerful and wicked kings on Earth.

[7] Shri. Sai Baba of Shirdi, Maharashtra, India (around 1835/1838 – October 15, 1918), was an Incarnation of Lord Dattatreya and had innumerable Hindu and Muslim devotees.

[8] The devotee, who believes that his Sadguru is an Incarnation of Lord Datta (Advaita), might be repelled and filled with jealousy upon hearning his Sadguru declare that He is the Lord Himself (Advaita, monism or non-duality). As a result he might doubt whether the Sadguru is actually an Incarnation. Thus, his Advaita (non-duality) point of view is lost.

[9] The Dvaita school of the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism holds that God and the soul are totally and eternally different. i.e. the soul of a human being cannot be God.

[10] Shankara, also known as Shankaracharya (Shankara+acharya i.e. Preacher Shankara) or Adi Shankara (The Original Shankara) is the 9th century CE founder of the Advaita philosophy and also the founder of the four mathas (Hindu monastaries) in India. The title Shankaracharya is now commonly used for the heads of the five main Hindu mathas (monasteries) in the Advaita philosophical tradition of Hinduism.

[11] Ramanuja (1017–1137 CE) is the preacher of of the Vishishthadvaita (qualified monism or qualified non-duality) school of the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. According to the Vishishthadvaita philosophy, the soul can be considered as a part of God, where God is the major component and the soul is the minor component. Thus, there is a sense of identity as well as difference (qualified non-duality).

[12] Madhva or Madhvacharya (1199–1278 CE), also known as Purna Prajna and Ananda Tirtha, is the preacher of the Dvaita (dualism) school of the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism.

[13] Lord Brahma the Creator, gave divine knowledge to the rishis (sages), who preserved and propagated this knowledge  in an unbroken stream (from teacher to disciple) until today.