- The Aranyakas or “forest books,” originally part of the BRAHMANA sections within the VEDAS, contain esoteric interpretations of the Vedic rituals. They show the ritual actors performing aspects of the ritual internally and esoterically while meditating in the forest. In the development of Indian tradi-tion, the Aranyakas are in one sense transitional between the typical Brahmana philosophy, which explains the Vedic acts in practical terms, and the UPANISHADS, which delve into the higher philo-sophical vision of the Vedas.Only four Aranyakas have been preserved: the Brhad Aranyaka in the SHATAPATHA BRAHMANA of the White YAJUR VEDA, the Taittariya Aranyaka of the Taittariya Brahmana of the Black Yajur Veda, the Aitareya Aranyaka in the Aitareya Brahmana of the RIG VEDA, and the Kaushitiki Aranyaka in the Kaushitiki Brahmana, also in the Rig Veda.Further reading: Julius Eggeling, trans., The Satapatha Brahmana, According to the Text of the Madhyamdina School (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1972); Jan Gonda, Vedic Literature: Samhitas and Brahmanas, Jan Gonda, ed., in A History of Indian Literature, Vol. 1, fascicle 1 (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1975); Arthur B. Keith, Aitareya Aranyaka (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.