Atri Rishi, Part Two


Atri and Anasuya meeting the Trimurti
Bhagavata Purana, Jaipur, 18th c.

Sep 15, 2014 — CANADA (SUN) — A study of the famous Rishis and Munis of Vedic literature.

In the manuscript illustration above and the painting below, we see a pastime from Bhagavat Purana in which the Trimurti -- Lord Visnu, Brahma and Shiva -- came to test Atri Rishi's wife, Anasuya. The Deities came to test her because she was well known for being the embodiment of chastity.

One day, the Trimurti personalities came to the asrama of Atri Rishi in the disguise of brahmanas. They told Anasuya they would like to be fed, however there was a condition -- she would have to be unclothed to serve them.

Anasuya Feeding the Trimurti Deities
Temple painting, c. 1907
Krishna-Sudama Temple, Porbandar, India

Without any hesitation, the Rishi's chaste wife agreed to this condition. She set about arranging nice foodstuffs, then employing her pativrita shakti, she turned the three brahmanas into children. She then proceeded, in all unclothed decorum, to serve her guests.

Being very pleased with Anasuya, the Trimurti deities requested her to return to her normal form, and to lift the shakti so They might return to their own. She did so, and they blessed her and Atri Rishi to have three sons: Dattatreya, Chandraatri and Krishnaatri (Durvasa). Durvasa's pastime confronting Ambarisa is famously described in the Bhagavatam and Mahabharata.

Rama, Sita and Lakshmana at the Hermitage of Sage Atri
Pahari School, Chamba kalam, Kangra

The painting above depicts another lila pastime in which Atri Rishi played a role, this time during Rama-lila. In this scene we see Rama and his brother discussing with Rishi Atri, while Anasuya talks with Sita.

Lord Rama visited Atri Maharishi's ashram during His long years of exile. It was Atri Rishi who, after offering Him great hospitality, showed Rama the way to Dandakaranya forest.


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