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By Swami Harshananda

Aupaniṣada-vrata literally means ‘Vow related to the study of the Upaniṣad’.

Among the sanskāras or sacraments enumerated by the ancient writers on the dharmaśāstras, like Gautama, four vedavratas are important.[1] They are as follows :

  1. Mahā-nāmnī-vrata
  2. Mahā-vrata
  3. Upaniṣad-vrata (or aupa-niṣada-vrata)
  4. Godāna-vrata

Each of these vratas had to be observed by the brahmacārin for a year. Other works like the Sāñkhāyana Grhyasutras[2] describe these four vratas as śukriya, śākvara, vrātika and aupaniṣada.

They are the vratas that precede the study of the different sections of the Vedas. The aupaniṣada-vrata precedes the study of the Upaniṣad part of the Vedas. At the beginning of each of these vratas there has to be a separate upanayana ceremony involving the wearing of the new yajñopavīta (sacred thread), new deer-skin and new girdle. The vrata lasts for one year.

Failure to observe these vratas or lapses during their performance had to be expiated with appropriate prāyaścittas specially prescribed. The observance of these vratas seems to have been gradually given up.


  1. Gautama Dharmasutras 8.15
  2. Sāñkhāyana Grhyasutras 2.11-12
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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