Atri is a great sage. He is one of the Manasputra, the mind-born sons of Brahma. Atri is also a Saptarishi, the seven great sages. His wife is Anasuya. Atri is credited with composing many hymns on Vedic gods such as Indra and Agni. The fifth Mandala of the Rig Veda, Atri Mandala, is named after Sage Atri.
- Father: Brahma
- Wife: Anasuya
- Sons: Chandra, Durvasa, Dattatreya
While Brahma was creating the universe, he started getting really angry. Everybody he had created decided to follow the path of spirituality, rather than help him create the universe. He created the 10 Manasputras by just visualizing them in his mind. These sons were Atri, Angiras, Prachethasa, Bhrigu, Daksha, Marichi, Pulastya, Pulaha, Vasishtha, and Narada. They all also decided to follow the path of spirituality.
Attaining Brahma Jnana
Atri started performing severe penance. With all this penance, Atri came to the level of Rajarishi. After more penance, he became of Maharishi. Even more penance made him a Devarishi. In the end, his penance was so severe that he became a Brahmarishi, the highest class of rishis. Since he became a Brahmarishi, he attained Brahma Jnana, the knowledge of Atma.
Atri is married to Anasuya. She is the daughter of Daksha and Prasuti, as said in most Puranas. But the Bhagvata Purana states that she was the daughter of Kardama and Devahooti. They started living in a hut in Chitrakuta, near a divine lake.
Birth of Sons
Anasuya’s fame and glory had spread all over the world. Indra and the devas were afraid that she might snatch their celestial treasures from them. They told the Trideva about this. The Trideva explained the greatness of Anasuya to them. But they agreed to ruin her chastity.
The Trideva took the form of beggars and came to Atri and Anasuya’s hut to beg for alms. At that time, Atri had gone to offer his daily ablutions at the river. She welcomed them and washed their feet. Anasuya was waiting for Atri took come back so they could give food to the three beggars.
But the beggars said that they couldn’t wait for the return of Atri. They demanded that the food be served right now. But they made an unusual request that she serve the food to them disrobed. Anasuya was really confident that the spiritual strength of her husband would save her, so she did so. When she entered the room, the three beggars had turned into babies.
When Atri rishi came in, he saw Anasuya with three babies. Anasuya offered the three babies at Atri’s feet. Atri realized that they were none other than the Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The Trideva assumed their real forms and Atri greeted them with folded hands. The Trideva requested Anasuya to ask for a boon. She asked that Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva actually become their children. They granted the boon and vanished. After some time, three sons were born to Atri and Anasuya: Dattatreya, Chandra, and Durvasa. Dattatreya was Vishnu, Chandra was Brahma, and Durvasa was Shiva.
Durvasa and Chandra Leave
After some time, Durvasa said, “I wish to leave and go on a pilgrimage. Then I want to do severe penance.” Chandra then said, “I am going to become part of the Navagrahas. I will reside on the Moon and be the god of the Moon. Thus, you will be able to see me every night. Don’t worry, Dattatreya will remain here and combine himself with the qualities of all three of us.”
After taking the permission of their parents, Durvasa left for a long pilgrimage and Chandra left for the Moon. Dattatreya remained with Anasuya and Atri in their hermitage.
In the Ramayana
In the Ramayana, during their exile, Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita visited Sage Atri and Anasuya’s ashram. They reached the hermitage and offered salutations to Atri and Anasuya. Atri urged Sita to meet Anasuya. Anasuya instructs Sita how to be a devoted wife. She also talks about the roles and responsibilities of a wife.
After staying the night at Sage Atri’s hermitage, Sita, Lakshmana, and Rama take departure of the hermitage.