When I stand at my bedroom window, I can see many things. I see children flying kites on rooftops, cows grazing on inedible delicacies at the side of the road and the vegetable seller pulling his cart shouting bhajiwala at the top of his lungs.
I’ve seen a wedding procession from my window. The groom perched on top of a beautifully decorated, pristine white horse accompanied by a brass band, women in beautiful sarees and overenthusiastic dancing uncles. I felt sorry for the horse, she looked completely petrified in all her finery, the brass band played so loudly and fire crackers were being let off every so often (the groom on the horse looked just as scared).
I’ve seen a funeral procession from my window. The body being carried to the pyre, covered in flowers, the mourners wearing white. I watch life go by from my window, but one thing in particular keeps catching my eye.
Towering above the trees is a temple. I hear the conch shells sounding and the temple bells ringing and I am growing curiouser and curiouser about what this temple holds. I often find myself looking at the tower and imagining what it looks like from the inside. When we ride passed, I always try to catch a glimpse of the deity. A glimpse is all I get, a flash of orange from a marigold garland and sometimes a splash of red. My husband told me that this is a Lord Datta temple, a deity I had never heard of before. This increased my curiosity even more so, so I started to read about Lord Datta.
Lord Datta encompasses the trinity of Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer). The story of the birth of Lord Datta is set in Mahur (Maharashtra), not too far away from where I now call home. Anasuya was the wife of an ancient rishi named Atri, and she was the epitome of devotion. She was so pious and had so much devotion she attained miraculous powers. One fine day the Goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati conspired to test the chastity of Anasuya by sending their husbands (Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) in disguise to ask her to serve them food without her clothes on. To overcome the problem she was faced, Anasuya used her powers to transform the trinity into three small babies so she could serve them food naked as requested and maintain her chastity. The Goddesses soon became worried when their husbands did not return to them. They went to Anasuya and found their husbands were now babies. The Goddesses repented and granted Anasuya a boon (a favour). Anasuya requested those babies be born to her as a son and so Lord Dattatreya was born, born with the three faces and six arms of the trinity. The faces of Lord Datta represent creation, preservation and destruction signifying the intimate unity of all things.
I have been quite ill lately so I have been looking out of my window quite a lot and not doing enough exploring. Once I feel completely well again I am going to satisfy my curiosity, reflect on the intimate unity of all things and visit the temple of Lord Datta, the temple I see every day from my window.