Sri Dattatreya’s 24 Gurus: Learning from the World in Hindu Tradition

Martin Haigh


Sri Dattatreya, who Lord Krishna quotes in The Uddhava Gita, has been
evoked as a guru for environmental education. Sri Dattatreya gained
enlightenment by observing the world, which provided Him with 24
instructors. These taught Him the futility of mundane attachments, the
benefits of contemplation and forebearance, and a path towards the spiritual
self-realization of the Supreme. Sri Dattatreya, an incarnation of Lord
Vishnu, features in several Puranas where His teachings involve direct
challenges to the pretensions and prejudices of the learner. His core message
is “never judge by surface appearances but always seek a deeper Truth”: the
Earth is sacred, an aspect of God, and a puzzle that challenges the spiritual
self to awaken to its true nature.

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