Religious career

Aruni (fl. c. 8th century BCE), also referred to as Uddalaka or Uddalaka Aruni or Uddalaka Varuni, is a revered Vedic sage of Hinduism.[1][2] He is mentioned in many Vedic era Sanskrit texts, and his philosophical teachings are among the center piece in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Chandogya Upanishad, two of the oldest Upanishadic scriptures.[3][4] A famed Vedic teacher, Aruni lived a few centuries before the Buddha,[1] and attracted students from far regions of the Indian subcontinent; some of his students such as Yajnavalkya are also highly revered in the Hindu traditions.[4] Both Aruni and Yajnavalkya are among the most frequently mentioned Upanishadic teachers in Hinduism.[5]

According to Ben-Ami Scharfstein, a professor emeritus of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University, Uddalaka Aruni was one of the first philosophers in recorded history.[1] In the Chandogya Upanishad Aruni asks metaphysical questions concerning the nature of reality and truth, observes constant change, and asks if there is something that is eternal and unchanging. From these questions, embedded in a dialogue with his son, he presents the concept of Ātman (soul, Self) and universal Self.[6]


The name Aruni appears in many of the Principal Upanishads, in numerous verses. For example:


Sage Aruni is revered in the Hindu tradition, and like many of its revered ancient scholars, later era scholars from the earliest times attributed or named their texts after him. Some of these treatises include:


Uddalaka Aruni is said to have systematized the Vedic and Upanishadic thoughts. Many Mahavakyas are ascribed to sage Uddalaka Aruni. Among those, "Tat Tvam Asi" (That thou art) of the Chandogya Upanishad is an oft-quoted thought in Hinduism. Its teacher is Uddalaka Aruni and the student his son Svetaketu.[3]

His teachings extend beyond metaphysical speculations and philosophy. Parts of his works contain the seeds of Indian atomism, because of his belief that "particles too small to be seen mass together into the substances and objects of experience".[21] Some scholars such as Hermann Jacobi and Randall Collins have compared Aruni to Thales of Miletus in their scientific methodology, calling them both as "primitive physicists" or "proto-materialist thinkers".[22][23]

In the Mahabharata

The Adi Parva describes Aruni as a disciple of Sage Ayoda-Dhaumya. Once a flood took place in the fields of the ashram. A breach was formed in the embankment. Dhaumya sent Aruni to stop the water from entering the embankment. After a long time, Aruni had not returned. So, Dhaumya went out to find Aruni. The latter lying in the breach of the embankment to prevent the water from entering it. Because of his loyalty, Aruni is also known as Uddalaka Aruni as a mark of his preceptor's respect.[24]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Ben-Ami Scharfstein (1998), A comparative history of world philosophy: from the Upanishads to Kant, Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 9-11
  2. ^ H. C. Raychaudhuri (1972), Political History of Ancient India, Calcutta: University of Calcutta, pp. 8-9, 21–25
  3. ^ a b James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 717. ISBN 978-0-8239-3180-4.
  4. ^ a b Ariel Glucklich (2008). The Strides of Vishnu: Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective. Oxford University Press. pp. 65–66. ISBN 978-0-19-971825-2.
  5. ^ Klaus K. Klostermaier (2010). Survey of Hinduism, A: Third Edition. State University of New York Press. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-7914-8011-3.
  6. ^ a b Ben-Ami Scharfstein (1998). A Comparative History of World Philosophy: From the Upanishads to Kant. State University of New York Press. pp. 56–61. ISBN 978-0-7914-3683-7.
  7. ^ Paul Deussen (1980). Sixty Upaniṣads of the Veda. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 457, 526. ISBN 978-81-208-1468-4.
  8. ^ Paul Deussen (1980). Sixty Upaniṣads of the Veda. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 142–155, 156–164. ISBN 978-81-208-1468-4.
  9. ^ "Special kind of union". The Hindu. 2 April 2017. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Learning proper lesson". The Hindu. 23 March 2011. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  11. ^ Paul Deussen (1980). Sixty Upaniṣads of the Veda. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 156–172. ISBN 978-81-208-1468-4.
  12. ^ Julius Lipner (2000). Richard V. De Smet and Bradley J. Malkovsky (ed.). New Perspectives on Advaita Vedānta. BRILL Academic. pp. 55–66. ISBN 90-04-11666-4.
  13. ^ Paul Deussen (1980). Sixty Upaniṣads of the Veda, Volume 1. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 25–26. ISBN 978-81-208-1468-4.
  14. ^ Max Muller (1962), Katha Upanishad, in The Upanishads - Part II, Dover Publications, ISBN 978-0486209937, page 1 with footnote 1
  15. ^ Paul Deussen (1980). Sixty Upaniṣads of the Veda, Volume 2. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 982 (Uddalaka Aruni), 953 (Aruni, Auddalaki Aruni). ISBN 978-81-208-1467-7.
  16. ^ B. N. Krishnamurti Sharma (2000). History of the Dvaita School of Vedānta and Its Literature: From the Earliest Beginnings to Our Own Times. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 567 note 16. ISBN 978-81-208-1575-9.
  17. ^ Bādarāyaṇa (1904). The Vedanta-sutras. Thompson and Company. p. 288.
  18. ^ a b Olivelle, Patrick (1992). The Samnyasa Upanisads. Oxford University Press. pp. 5, 8–9, 60. ISBN 978-0195070453.
  19. ^ Sprockhoff, Joachim F (1976). Samnyasa: Quellenstudien zur Askese im Hinduismus (in German). Wiesbaden: Kommissionsverlag Franz Steiner. ISBN 978-3515019057.
  20. ^ Patrick Olivelle (1993). The Āśrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution. Oxford University Press. pp. 118–119, 178. ISBN 978-0-19-508327-9.
  21. ^ Thomas McEvilley (2012), The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies. New York: Constable & Robinson
  22. ^ Amiya Kumar Bagchi; Amita Chatterjee (2015). Marxism: With and Beyond Marx. Taylor & Francis. p. 143. ISBN 978-1-317-56176-7.
  23. ^ Randall Collins (2009). The Sociology of Philosophies. Harvard University Press. pp. 963 note 15. ISBN 978-0-674-02977-4.
  24. ^ Parthasarathy Rengaswami (2013), Stories From the Mahabharata: 5. Three Disciples.