|Lord Dattatreya - Incarnations|
The Cow, which is always with Him, represents the Mother Earth and Dharma. She is the wish-fulfilling cow 'Kamadhenu'. The four dogs symbolise the four Vedas – the external repositories of Spiritual Wisdom. The trident indicates that He has transcended the three gunas, which constitute the illusory world Sattva-illumination, Rajas-activity and Tamas-inertia.
The 'Sudharshana Chakra', disc indicates that He is beyond the cycles of time i.e. the past, present and future and His holding of 'chakra' means He is the controller of time. The conch represents the eternal sound 'AUM' – which is the manifestation of the Spirit. It is also the life principle in us and the cosmos.
He always carries a begging bowl so as to teach us the lesson that we will have to share our wealth and food with others. The japa-mala, rosary He wears reminds us that our primary duty is chanting the sacred name of the Lord and meditating on the feet of the Lord, and our redemption depends on this discipline alone. Lord Dattatreya, in order to bless His devotees and the righteous ones, wanders about in the guise of a random guest at the lunch hour. That's why it is said that a random guest has to be treated as the very embodiment of Lord Dattaterya.