By Swami Harshananda
This is one of the minor Upaniṣads belonging to the Krsna Yajurveda and classed among the Saṅyāsa Upaniṣads, i.e., Upaniṣads teaching saṅyāsa or stressing a life of renunciation. The text is a mixture of prose and poetry having 36 verses/sections.
Prose section is in the form of a conversation between Sāṅkṛti and Avadhuta Dattātreya. Sāṅkṛti approaches Avadhuta Dattātreya and questions him about avadhuta, their mental state, their characteristics and saṅsaraṇa. Dattātreya described the qualities of an an “avadhuta”.
- Avadhuta is the one who has identified himself with the (a =) “akṣara” or the indestructible Brahman
- He is “vareṇya” (excellent).
- He has destroyed all the bonds of transmigration (dhu = dhuta-samsārabandhana)
- He has become the goal of the Upaniṣadic sentences like (ta =) “tattvam asi.”
- Since he has already realized the ātman or the Self, there is no need for him to follow the rules and regulations of varṇa and āśrama (castes and stages of life). Hence he is also called an ‘ativarṇāśramin’ (one who has transcended the varṇa-āśrama- system).
- Immortality can be attained by renunciation alone and not by rituals or progeny or wealth.
- “Saṅsaraṇa” means moving freely among the ignorant people to destroy their ignorance of the Self.
- He may move about stark naked, partially clad or well-clad.
- He sacrifices only to the inner Self and is free from all actions.
- Though experiencing objects of senses, he is not tainted by them as the sun is not tainted by the nature of the objects upon which he shines.
- He is not affected by the desires, as the ocean does not overflow by the waters of the rivers entering it.
Then follow some verses describing the inner state of the avadhuta : ‘The highest truth is that there is no creation, nor any destruction. There is no sādhaka (spiritual aspirant) nor a mukta (the liberated one). Those interested in progeny or wealth or other things, may engage themselves in action and suffer transmigration. But I am ever filled with bliss. I am not interested in sleep or begging food. I have no need for śravana (listening to Vedāntic texts) or manana (reflecting on them) or nidi- dhyāsana (meditation). Let prārabdha karma (results of actions of previous lives) take its own course. Though I am now liberated, there is no harm in my following the path prescribed by the śāstras or scriptures to set an example to the ignorant people. I am ever blessed since I know my Self and the bliss of Brahman is being clearly experienced.’
The Upaniṣad closes with a phalaśruti (eulogy) of the results that can be obtained if this is studied and realized.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore