This is one of the minor Upaniṣads belonging to the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda and classed among the Saṁnyāsa Upaniṣads, i.e., Upaniṣads teaching saṁnyāsa or stressing a life of renunciation. The text is a mixture of prose and poetry and has 36 verses/sections.
Sāṅkṛti approaches Avadhūta Dattā-treya and questions him thus: ‘Who is an avadhūta? What is his mental state? What are his characteristics? What is saṁsaraṇa?’
Dattātreya replies: ‘An “avadhūta” is one who has identified himself with the (a =) “akṣara” or the indestructible Brahman, who is (va =) “vareṇya” or excellent, who has destroyed all bonds of transmigration (dhū = dhūta-saṁsārabandhana) and has become the goal of the Upaniṣadic sentences like (ta =) “tat tvam asi.” ’ Since he has already realized the ātman or the Self, there is no need for him of following 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.
‘ “Saṁsaraṇa” 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 even as the sun is not tainted by the nature of the objects upon which he shines.
‘He is not affected by the desires entering into him even as the ocean does not overflow by the waters of the rivers entering it.’
Then follow some verses describing the inner state of the avadhūta: ‘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 even in sleep or begging for food. I have no need for śravaṇa (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 phala-śruti (eulogy) of the results that can be obtained if this is studied and realized.