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Atri Rishi (Father or Dattatreya Rishi)

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Dear All, Here is an extract about an Ancient Sage who had some connection to Ancient Indian Astrology and certainly represent an age old tradition both in Astrology and Ayurveda. The fllowing article by VV Raman ji provided in the Siddha community group provides some good reference to those who are interested in doing some astro research about Sage Atri and his contribution to astrology. Love and regards,Sreenadh=======================================

Atri Rishi

(from http://www.siddha.com.my/ubb/Forum3/HTML/000053-7.html written by V. V. Raman)Atri Rishi is another prajapati. He is said to have emerged from Brahma'seyes. But then, when Brahma's sons were killed by a curse from Shiva, andBrahma performed a sacrifice, Atri came again from the fires of thissacrifice. In this way, he is said to have had two incarnations. In thefirst of these, he had three sons. One of these is said to be Soma: theMoon. And in the second he had a son and a daughter. The son's name wasAryam? The daughter was called Anal? Such are his puranic biographies.

There are hymns in the Rig Veda (I:112, 7) which describe how Atri wasrescued from a fiery pit into which he had been thrown. This probablyreferred to the treatment that some of the so-called Tribals of India gaveto the leaders of the early Vedic culture. It is difficult to re-constructthe history of events that occurred more than 3500 years ago, especiallywhen those events are couched in mytho-symbolism. In another hymn in the RigVeda (V: 40) we read that when the sun was attacked, Atri performed thenecessary rituals for the protection of the gods. The reference is probablyto early reactions with magical incantations when eclipses came to pass.

In the Mahabharata (Anusasana Parva: 156) this Rig Vedic reference isembellished into a story that Bhishma tells Arjuna: During one of theperiodic conflicts between the gods (devas) and the demons (danavas/asuras) Rahu pierced Surya(the sun) and Soma (the moon) with his powerful arrows, plunging the universe in utter darkness. The gods went to Atri Rishi andappealed to him for help. The Rishi wondered how he could be of anyassistance. The gods suggested that he should become the sun and the moonhimself. Atri did just that: This ascetic Brahmin who was clad in deer skinand who subsisted only on fruits, it says, assumed the aspects of the sunand the moon and illumined the entire universe. He also pulverized the evilones, and restored order in the world. He cast the appropriate spells toroot out the demon which was haunting the sun. The echo of this episodestill reverberates in India.

Atri is also mentioned in various puranas. We read about him in the PadmaPurana (Sarga Khanda) where it says that this rishi practiced austeritiesfor three thousand years. In the course of this penance, his semen slowlyinched upwards, reached his head, was transformed into immortalizing amrita,and then it was ejected from his eyes. This then split into ten portionswhich illuminated the ten corners of space. So the sun and the moon wereborn. Not many myths can match this in its sweep of the universe from thehuman body.

In the Ramayana Atri becomes very much a normal human rishi. Here we read(Ayodhya Kanda: 117) that Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana, after leaving Chitrakootain their exploration of the forest, went to the hermitage of Atri Rishi.The sage was dwelling peacefully with his wife Anasuya (Anas?). Her namemeans: one who is uncomplaining, who bears no spite. Anasuya gives a littletalk to Sita on the glory and responsibilities of a chaste wife. In thecourse of this sermon she says: "For women blessed with noble character,husband is the highest deity, irrespective of whether he misbehaves, islicentious, or is without any riches." This innocuous statement may refer toan episode in Markandeya Purana (XI): A man named Kaushika is said to haveexpressed a desire to enjoy another woman. Because Kaushika was too weak to walk to his pleasure-lady's house, his faithful wife Shandili carried him on her shoulders to his desired destination. On the way, by accident, shestepped on a holy man named Mandavya. The angry sage cursed the couple tobe dead before dawn. Shandili, in turn, prayed that the sun may never riseagain. The godly beings were frightened, and they approached Anusuya forhelp. Anusuya persuaded Shandili to retract with the promise that Mandavya'scurse wouldn't materialize. For this, the gods offered Anusuya three boons.She responded by asking for the moksha (liberation) of herself and herhusband. As a third boon she wanted the Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva) tobecome her sons. This was granted in a mystical way: From Atri Rishi's eyesshot a radiant energy which served as the seeds for three incarnations ofthe Trimurti as Soma, Durvasa, and Dutta.

Another version of this legend is no less interesting: At one time, thegossip-mongering prankster rishi Narada went to the three great Shaktis:Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati, and spoke to them very highly about thechastity and loyalty of Anusuya towards her husband Atri. The goddesses grewenvious, and dispatched their spouses to tempt Anusuya. Disguised asmendicants, they came to the lady and begged for food, but on one condition:they wanted her to serve them in the nude. Anusuya retreated into thekitchen, prayed to her husband, disrobed herself, and came with some food,clad only in air. The guests had turned into babies. She embraced theinfants and fed them milk from her breasts. Atri Rishi returned home and was very pleased for he knew that these babies were Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.He took them all in his arms, and they became one. As it was a gift, thechild was named Dattattreaya (Given to Atri).

V. V. RamanSeptember 19, 2005=======================================

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