The meaning of Datta Dayadhvam Damyata
In The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Lord Vishnu has given the most compact and useful advise for the three kinds of beings, namely, the gods, the demons and the human beings.
These three beings also signify the three gunas or tendencies that exist in the creation. These three gunas are sattvic or the mode of goodness which represents the higher level of consciousness(gods), rajasic or the mode of passion which represents the middle level of consciousness (human beings) and tamasic or the mode of ignorance which represents the lowest level of consciousness (demons)
Datta Dayadhvam Damyata – The Story
Once a representative of gods, humans and demons went to Lord Vishnu and requested him to guide them on the proper way of living.
To each of these representative, Lord Vishnu uttered one syllable, “Da”.
The gods understood this syllable to mean ‘Damyata’ or having control over your senses; as the Gods are tempted get addicted to enjoyment and sensory pleasures. Kama (sensory pleasure) is to be controlled by self-restraint.
The demons understood it to mean ‘Dayadhvam’ or being compassionate, as the demons are tempted to use and harm others for achieving their bodily desires. Anger is to be controlled by mercy.
The humans understood this to mean ‘Datta‘ or being charitable, as human beings are tempted to living a life of materialism being overcome by greed. Giving chairty overcomes greed.