Known also as ‘Āruṇi-’ and ‘Āruṇika-’ Upaniṣad, it is a minor work belonging to the Sāmaveda. It deals with saṁnyāsa or monastic life.
The sage Āruṇi goes to the abode of Prajāpati (‘Lord of beings;’ same as Brahmā, the Creator) and asks Him how he can give up all actions. Prajāpati replies that he should give up his family and friends, the holy thread, the sacrificial system and the scriptures that advocate them and the desire for attaining any of the well-known worlds or planes of exis-tence. He should accept saṁnyāsa or monastic life. This is the first section.
The next section clearly states that anyone, from any state of life, can take to the monastic life, intense spirit of renunciation being the only criterion. The process of ceremonially giving up the sacred thread (yajñopavīta) and the fires, and the exhortation to study the Āraṇyakas and Upaniṣads, follow next.
The third section gives the well-known praiṣamantra, the sacred formula to be repeated thrice, signifying that the aspirant has totally renounced the three worlds. A Vedic prayer for protection, instructions regarding food, wearing of the loin-cloth and observance of disciplines like brahmacarya (chastity), ahiṁsā (non-injury) and satya (truthfulness) are given at the end.
The fourth section deals with the conduct of ‘paramahaṁsa-parivrājaka,’ the highest class of itinerant monks. They should sleep on the ground, use a bowl of clay, gourd or wood for water, give up lust, anger, avarice and other evil passions and constantly move about, all alone, except during the rainy season. (See CĀTURMĀSYA.)
The last section describes the mode of begging, uttering the sacred ‘Oṁ,’ and closes with a well-known Vedic prayer that describes the state of enlightenment of sages.