The popular idol of Lord Dattatreya has three faces: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. These faces of Datta represent the three aspects of our existence. Brahma represents birth/creation, Vishnu represents sustenance/life, and Shiva represents dissolution/death.
Why is Datta’s face of Vishnu usually in the front?
Lord Dattatreya often has the face of Vishnu in the front.
In this world, what we need is a peaceful, balanced life with abundance. Why have we come to earth at all? If we don’t have anything to experience from earth, we will not taken birth here at all. We don’t have to take birth. The very reason why we have taken birth, we meant to experience so many things on earth, it doesn’t matter what it is or if it is good, bad, or ugly. There is some reason for coming here and that will be assisted by Maha Vishnu – the Sustainer. That is why Datta’s face of Vishnu is in front most of the time.
Shiva is originally the manifested and unmanifested aspect of creation and so is the name Vishnu in absolute sense. The manifested world is as tiny as a pimple on Shiva’s face. The unmanifested aspect is huge. The unmanifested aspect is represented by the Shiva Linga – something which cannot have a defined form is given a form. A form needs to have a shape which represents sustainability, i.e. always existing, and that is the form of Shiva Linga.
Brahma is the beginning, but looking at the whole creation, Vishnu comes before Brahma as beyond birth and death. Brahma is the creator aspect. Creation starts only when there is a platform for creation. If there is no canvas to draw, how can you express your skill? Brahma came into existence when the platform happened, that means – when the created world happened, when the atom happened, when relativity happened, that’s when Brahma happened. Without relativity there is no need for Brahma. Vishnu is the sustenance aspect of Shiva and Shiva is the manifested and unmanifested aspect of Para Brahma. This is the unity.
And where is Brahma sitting? On the lotus which has come out of the navel of Maha Vishnu. What does the navel represent? Kriya Shakti. Iccha Shakti (the power of will) sits in the heart center, Gyana Shakti (the power of knowledge) in the third eye, and Kriya Shakti (the power of action) in the navel. Gyana Shakti is connected to Shiva, Iccha Shakti is connected to Vishnu, and Kriya Shakti is connected to Brahma.
That is why Datta exists in these three aspects: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Datta is here because of our need, not because of his need. Datta does not need anything from anybody. He doesn’t even need existence, but because we exist he exists – for our sake.
Why do troubles occur in life at times when people connect to Datta or Datta avatars?
Conflicts happen because of the aspect of annihilation, which means your lifetimes are getting reduced. When you connect to the Datta path, it becomes intense. What is usually spread in many lifetimes comes together into a few lifetimes, so each life will become intense.
The reason why pain in life sustains is because of the resistance to pain. If we accept and say “Okay, this is happening, and this will go”, then it will not be felt deeply as it would when we handle events through mind, intellect and ego.
Ramana Maharishi said, “I have pain, but I have no suffering.” Suffering is your choice.
When this happens, you are shifting into the Path of Shiva. When you are moving into the Path of Shiva or you worship Shiva, it is annihilation.
If you ask for many material things on one side, ex. positions, possessions, and at the same time you worship Shiva, there is a conflict already. On one hand you are asking for dissolution, while on the other hand you are asking for everything on earth. One contradicts the other and the result is a confused existence and pains over deprived desires. This is what prolongs suffering.
The major quality of the Datta path is the consistent grace factor. Imagine having all the troubles in all these lives, with the grace factor and without the grace factor. The difference is that with the grace factor, there is somebody to hold you, guide, protect and energize you.
That is Datta Tradition. The Tradition which empowers you, energizes you, protects you and provides Gurus/Masters for you to connect and talk to. The Tradition which reduces burdens and opens channels within for grace to flow.