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Encyclopedia > Taittiriya Aranyaka
Part of a series on
Hindu scriptures
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Rigveda · Yajurveda
Samaveda · Atharvaveda
Vedic divisions
Samhita · Brahmana
Aranyaka  · Upanishad
Aitareya  · Bṛhadāraṇyaka
Īṣa  · Taittirīya · Chāndogya
Kena  · Muṇḍaka
Māṇḍūkya  ·Praśna
Shiksha · Chandas
Vyakarana · Nirukta
Jyotisha · Kalpa
Mahabharata · Ramayana
Other scriptures
Smriti · Purana
Bhagavad Gita · Sutra
Pancharatra · Tantra
Kumara Vyasa Bharata · Stotra
Hanuman Chalisa · Ramacharitamanas
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The Aranyakas (Sanskrit आरण्यक āraṇyaka) are part of the Hindu śruti; these religious scriptures are sometimes argued to be part of either the Brahmanas or Upanishads. The name translates to "the forest books", meaning, treatises for hermits or sadhus living in the wilderness. This contrasts with the grhyasutras, treatises intended for domestic life. Their language is early Classical Sanskrit, and together with the bulk of the Upanishads, the Aranyakas form the basis of Vedanta, roughly dating to a few centuries before the Common Era. Hindu scripture is overwhelmingly written in Sanskrit. ... Image File history File links Aum. ... The Vedas (Sanskrit: वेद) are the main scriptural texts of Hinduism, also known as the Sanatana Dharma, and are a large corpus of texts originating in Ancient India. ... The Rigveda (Sanskrit: , a tatpurusha compound of praise, verse and knowledge) is a collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns dedicated to the gods. ... The Yajurveda (Sanskrit , a tatpurusha compound of sacrifice + veda knowledge) is one of the four Hindu Vedas. ... The Samaveda (Sanskrit: सामवेद, sāmaveda, a tatpurusha compound of ritual chant + knowledge ), is third in the usual order of enumeration of the four Vedas, the ancient core Hindu scriptures. ... The Atharvaveda (Sanskrit: अथर्ववेद, , a tatpurusha compound of , a type of priest, and meaning knowledge) is a sacred text of Hinduism, and one of the four Vedas, often called the fourth Veda. According to tradition, the Atharvaveda was mainly composed by two groups of rishis known as the Bhrigus and the... The Samhita (Sanskrit: joined or collected) is the basic text of each of the Vedas, comprising collections of hymns and ritual texts. ... The Brahmana (Sanskrit ब्राह्मण) are part of the Hindu Shruti; They are composed in Vedic Sanskrit, and the period of their composition is sometimes referred to as the Brahmanic period or age (approximately between 900 BC and 500 BC). ... The Upanishads (Devanagari: उपनिषद्, ; also known as and ) are part of the Vedas and form the Hindu scriptures which primarily discuss philosophy, meditation and nature of God; they form the core spiritual thought of Vedantic Hinduism. ... The Aitareya Upanishad is one of the older, primary Upanishads commented upon by Shankara. ... The Upanishad is one of the older, primary (mukhya) Upanishads commented upon by Shankara. ... The Isha Upanishad (IAST or ), also known as the Ishavasya () Upanishad, is one of the smaller Upanishads but is probably the most often quoted. ... The Taittiriya Upanishad is one of the Upanishads associated to the taittiriya samhita of the Black Yajurveda. ... The Chandogya Upanishad is one of the main ten Upanishads of Hinduism. ... The Kena Upanishad (), is one of the older, primary Upanishads commented upon by Shankara. ... Mundaka Upanishad is an Upanishad of the Atharva Veda. ... MāndÅ«kya Upanishad is one of the shortest Upanishads, that form the speculative metaphysical parts of the Hindu texts, the Vedas. ... Prashna Upanishad (IAST ) is one of the older, primary Upanishads commented upon by Shankara. ... The Vedanga (IAST , member of the Veda) are six auxiliary disciplines for the understanding and tradition of the Vedas. ... Shiksha is an NGO devoted to improving the standards of education in New Delhi and its neighbouring regions. ... The verses of the Vedas have a variety of different meters. ... The Sanskrit grammatical tradition of , is one of the six Vedanga disciplines. ... Nirukta is Vedic glossary of difficult words. ... Jyotisha (, in Hindi and English usage Jyotish) is the Hindu system of astrology, one of the six disciplines of Vedanga, and regarded as one of the oldest schools of ancient astrology to have had an independent origin, affecting all other schools in and around India. ... Kalpa is one of the six disciplines of Vedanga, treating ritual. ... Itihasa (Sanskrit: इतिहास - itihāsa in IAST notation, literally meaning that which happened) is the word for History. ... Manuscript illustration of the Battle of Kurukshetra The (Devanagari: ), is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the . ... The (DevanāgarÄ«: ) is an ancient Sanskrit epic attributed to the poet Valmiki and is an important part of the Hindu canon (smá¹›ti). ... Smriti (Sanskrit स्मॄति, that which is remembered) refers to a specific canon of Hindu religious scripture. ... Purana (Sanskrit पुराण, purāṇa, meaning ancient or old) is the name of a genre (or a group of related genres) of Indian written literature (as distinct from oral literature). ... Bhagavad Gīta भगवद्गीता, composed ca the fifth - second centuries BC, is part of the epic poem Mahabharata, located in the Bhisma-Parva chapters 23–40. ... SÅ«tra (sex) (Sanskrit) or Sutta (Pāli) literally means a rope or thread that holds things together, and more metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. ... Pañcaratra is an pre-Puranic form of Hinduism, which equated Narayana with Vishnu. ... The Tantra (Looms or Weavings), refer to numerous and varied scriptures pertaining to any of several esoteric traditions rooted in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. ... Kumara Vyasa is one of the most famous poets in the Kannada language, spoken in the state of Karnataka, India. ... Stotras are Hindu prayers that praise aspects of God, such as Devi, Siva, or Vishnu. ... Hanuman Chalisa (Forty chaupais on Hanuman) is Tulsidas most famous and read piece of literature apart from the Ramacharitamanasa, a poem primarily praising Hanuman. ... ÅšrÄ« Rāmcaritmānas (Hindi: रामचरितमानस) is an epic poem composed by the great 16th-century Indian poet, Goswami Tulsidas (c. ... Hinduism (Sanskrit: , , also known as , ) is a religion that originated on the Indian subcontinent. ... Åšruti (Sanskrit श्रुति, what is heard) is a canon of Hindu scriptures. ... Various religious symbols Religion is a system of social coherence based on a common group of beliefs or attitudes concerning an object, person, unseen being, or system of thought considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine or highest truth, and the moral codes, practices, values, institutions, traditions, and rituals associated with... Many religions and spiritual movements hold certain written texts (or series of spoken legends not traditionally written down) to be sacred. ... The Brahmanas (Brahmin Books) are part of the Hindu Shruti; these religious scriptures focus on sacrifice -- particularly that of horses and soma. ... The Upanishads (उपनिषद्, Upanişad) are part of the Hindu Shruti scriptures which primarily discuss meditation and philosophy and are seen as religious instructions by most schools of Hinduism. ... In Hinduism, sadhu is a common term for an ascetic or practitioner of yoga (yogi) who has given up pursuit of the first three Hindu goals of life: kama (pleasure), artha (wealth and power) and even dharma (duty). ... The Grhya Sutras domestic sutras are a category of Sanskrit texts in the tradition of the Brahmanas, commenting on Vedic ritual. ... ... Vedanta (Devanagari: , ) is a school of philosophy within Hinduism. ... The Common Era (CE), sometimes known as the Current Era or as the Christian Era, is the period of measured time beginning with the year 1 on the Gregorian calendar. ...



The Aranyakas discuss philosophy and sacrifice. They are believed to have originated with the various mystical ascetic groups that developed in post-Vedic India. The Aranyakas constitute a more philosophical and mystical interpretation of the themes presented in the Vedas, as opposed to the Brahmanas, which were primarily concerned with the proper performance of ritual. Like the Upanishads, the Aranyakas may have initially constituted a secret or hidden teaching, not in the sense of being forbidden or restricted, but rather being both a non-obvious expansion on the themes of the Vedas and a teaching that was primarily conveyed individually from teacher to student. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... Marcus Aurelius and members of the Imperial family offer sacrifice in gratitude for success against Germanic tribes: contemporary bas-relief, Capitoline Museum, Rome Sacrifice (from a Middle English verb meaning to make sacred, from Old French, from Latin sacrificium : sacer, sacred; sacred + facere, to make) is commonly known as the... The Vedas (Sanskrit: वेद) are the main scriptural texts of Hinduism, also known as the Sanatana Dharma, and are a large corpus of texts originating in Ancient India. ...

The Aranyakas are associated with and named after individual Vedic shakhas. Shakha (IAST ), literally branch or limb, is the Sanskrit term for a recension or version of Vedic texts according to a particular school. ...

  • Aitareya Aranyaka belongs to the Shakala Shakha of Rigveda
  • Taittiriya Aranyaka belongs to the Taittiriya Shakha of Krishna-Yajurveda
  • Katha Aranyaka belongs to the Katha-Charaka Shakha of the Krishna-Yajurveda
  • Kaushitaki Aranyaka belongs to the Kaushitaki and Shankhayana Shakhas of Rigveda
  • Maitrayaniya Aranyaka belongs to the Maitrayaniya Shakha of Krishna-Yajurveda
  • Talavakara Aranyaka belongs to the Talavakara or Jaiminiya Shakha of Samaveda

The Atharvaveda has no surviving Aranyaka, although indications are that there did exist Araynaka works attached to this Veda in the past. The Aitareya Upanishad is one of the older, primary Upanishads commented upon by Shankara. ... The Yajur Veda यजुर्वेद is one of the four Hindu Vedas; it contains religious texts focussing on liturgy and ritual. ... The Kaá¹­ha Upanishad is one of the older, primary Upanishads commented upon by Shankara. ... The Kauśītāki Upanishad is one of the older, primary Upanishads. ...

The Secret of the Brahmanas

There is also a certain continuity of the Aranyakas from the Brahmanas in the sense that the Aranyakas go into the subtle esoteric meanings of the ritualistic tilt that the rites detailed in the Brahmanas give to the mantras of the Vedas. It is this leap into subtlety that provides the reason for Durgacharya in his commentary on the Niruktas to say that the Aranyakas are ‘Rahasya Brahmana’ , that is, the Secret of the Brahmanas. In short, the undercurrent of emphasis of the Aranyakas is to point out that through all the different multiplicities that one has to contend with, there is a single thread of continuity, namely, the One Absolute Reality. The language of the Aranyakas is, unlike Vedic Sanskrit, nearer to the ordinary Sanskrit of the layman. Nirukta is Vedic glossary of difficult words. ... Vedic Sanskrit is the language of the Vedas, which are the earliest sacred texts of India,. The Vedas were first passed down orally and therefore have no known date. ...

A glimpse into the contents of some of the Aranyakas

Aitareya Aranyaka

There are five chapters each of which is even considered as a full Aranyaka. The first one deals with the regimen known as ‘Mahaa-vrata’. The explanations are both ritualistic as well as absolutistic. The second one has six chapters of which the first three are about ‘Praana-vidyaa’ – meaning, Prana, the Vital Air that constitutes the life-breath of a living body is also the life-breath of all mantras, all vedas and all vedic declarations (cf. 2.2.2 of aitareya Aranyaka). It is in this portion of the Aranyaka that one finds specific statements about how one who follows the vedic injunctions and performs the sacrifices goes to become the God of Fire, or the Sun or Air and how one who transgresses the vedic prescriptions is born into lower levels of being, namely, as birds and reptiles.

It is in Aitareya Aranyaka Praana is recommended to be worshipped in the form of Rishis. Praana is Vishwaamitra because all the universe (‘vishwa’) is the object of experience of this praana deity. Praana is Vamadeva because the word “Vaama” indicates respectability and deservingness to be worshipped and served. It is also Atri Maharishi because, the word ‘traayate’ in Atri indicates the Praana that protects from sins. The Praana enters this body and supports it therefore, it is Bharadvaja – where the ‘bhara’ word denotes supporting and the ‘Vaaja’ indicates the mortal body that is made mobile by the residence of praaana. Vashishhta is also Praana because the word ‘vas’ indicates the dwelling in this body of the senses made possible by praana. In Hinduism, Vamadeva is the name of the preserver aspect of the god Shiva, one of five aspects of the universe he embodies. ... In Hinduism, Atri is a legendary bard and scholar, and a son of Brahma. ... In Hinduism, Bharadwaja was one of the great sages(rishi) who lived in ancient India. ...

The 4th, 5th and 6th chapters of this second Aranyaka constitute what is known as Aitareya Upanishad.

The third Aranyaka in this chain of Aranyakas is also known as ‘Samhitopanishad’. This elaborates on the various ways – like pada-paatha, krama-paatha, etc. -- of reciting the Vedas and the nuances of the ‘svaras’.

The fourth and the fifth Aranyaka are technical and dwell respectively on the mantras known as ‘MahaanaamnI’ and the yajna known as ‘Madhyandina’.

Shankhayana Aranyaka

There are fifteen chapters here. From the third to the sixth it constitutes the Kaushitaki Upanishad. The seventh and eighth are known as a Samhitopanishad.

The first two chapters deal with the Mahavrata. The ninth talks about the greatness of Prana. The tenth chapter deals with the esoteric implications of the agnihotra ritual. All divine personalities are inherent in the Purusha, just as Agni in speech, Vayu in Prana, the Sun in the eyes, the Moon in the mind, the directions in the ears and water in the potency. The one who knows this, says the Aranyaka, and in the strength of that conviction goes about eating, walking, taking and giving, satisfies all the gods and what he offers in the fire reaches those gods in heaven. (cf.10-1).

The eleventh chapter prescribes several antidotes in the form of rituals for warding off death and sickness. It also details the effects of dreams. The 12th chapter elaborates the fruits of prayer. The 13th gets into more philosophical matters and says one must first attitudinally discard one’s bodily attachment and then carry on the ‘shravana’, manana and nidhidhyasana and practise all the disciplines of penance, faith, self-control etc.

The 14th gives just two mantras. One extols the “I am Brahman” mantra and says it is the apex of all Vedic mantras. The second mantra declares that one who does not get the meaning of mantras but only recites vedic chants is like an animal which does not know the value of the weight it carries. The final chapter gives a long list of genealogy of spiritual teachers from Brahma downwards upto Guna-Sankhayana. Brahma (written Brahmā in IAST) (Devanagari ब्रह्मा, pronounced as ) is the Hindu God (deva) of creation, and one of the Hindu Trinity - Trimurti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. ...

Brihad – Aranyaka

This is the famous Upanishad of that name. The Self is the subject of discussion here from all aspects. For a complete discussion see Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad.


There are ten chapters here. The 7th, 8th and 9th constitute the well-known Taittiriya Upanishad. The tenth is a long Upanishad known as Maha-Narayana-Upanishad; it contains several important mantras culled from the three vedas. Chapters one to six form the Aranyaka proper. The Taittiriya Upanishad is one of the Upanishads associated to the taittiriya samhita of the Black Yajurveda. ...

The first one is the famous Surya namaskara chapter. The second one is a description of the five maha-yajnas that every brahmin has to do daily. Naturally the sacred thread, the yajnopavita, of the brahmin is extolled and elaborated here. The sandhya worship, the worship of the manes, worship of the brahman through the brahma-yajna, the cleansing homa-sacrifice called the kushmanda-homa are all dealt with in detail. In this chapter the word ‘shramana’ is used (2-7-1) in the meaning of a doer of penance (tapasvii); this word came to mean in later times, a recluse of the Buddhist and Jain religions.

The third and fourth chapters go into further technicalities of several other homas and yajnas. The fourth chapter has also sections on mantras that may be used for averting (or causing !) havoc. The fifth is an academic treatise on yajnas. The sixth one is a collection of ‘pitr-medha’ mantras, that is, the mantras recited on the occasion of, and used for, the rituals for the disposal of the dead body.


  • Vaidik Sahitya aur Samskriti ka swarup (in Hindi) by Om Prakash Pande. Vishwa Prakashan (A unit of Wylie Eastern) 1994, New Delhi .ISBN 81-7328-037-1
  • Aitareya Aranyaka – English Translation by A.B. Keith, London 1909
  • Aitareya Aranyaka – A Study . Dr. Suman Sharma. Eastern Book Linkers. New Delhi 1981
  • Taittiriya Aranyaka, with Sayana Bhashya . Anandashram, Pune 1926.
  • B.D. Dhawan. Mysticism and Symbolism in Aitareya and Taittiriya Aranyakas, South Asia Books *(1989), ISBN 81-212-0094-6
  • The Aitareya Aranyaka: Edited from the manuscripts in the India Office and the Library of the Royal Asiatic Society with introduction, translation, notes, ... unpublished of the Sankhayana Aranyaka, Eastern Book Linkers (1995) ISBN 81-86339-14-0
  • Michael Witzel, Katha Aranyaka : Critical Edition with a Translation into German and an Introduction, Harvard Oriental Series, Harvard Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies (2005) ISBN 0-674-01806-0

Michael E. J. Witzel (born 1943) is Wales Professor of Sanskrit and Chair of the Committee on South Asian Studies at Harvard University. ...

See also

  • Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad



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