From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Uddālakavrata literally means ‘penance prescribed by Uddālaka’.

Age Criteria for Upanayāna Ceremony[edit]

Any boy born in the family of a dvija[1] is expected to undergo the Upanayāna sacrament within the prescribed age-limit. This age limit is:

  1. 16 years for a brāhmaṇa
  2. 22 years for a kṣattriya
  3. 24 years for a vaiśya

If he fails to do so, he is branded as patitasāvitrīka or vrātya.[2]

Uddālaka Vrata[edit]

One of the expiations prescribed for such a person to become fit again for the Upanyāna sacrament is the Uddālaka Vrata. Since the sage Uddālaka-Āruṇi prescribed it, it has been named after him. A person who performs this vrata should subsist on the prescribed food as follows:

  1. For two months on barley gruel
  2. For one month on milk
  3. For half-a-month on āmikṣā[3]
  4. For eight days on ghee
  5. For six days on alms got without begging
  6. For three days on water
  7. Total fast for one day[4]


  1. Dvija literally means the twice-born.
  2. ‘Sāvitrī’ means the Gāyatrī mantra.
  3. Āmikṣā means whey.
  4. Vaṣisthasmrti 11.76-79
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore