Taittiriya Aranyaka

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By Swami Harshananda

Origin of Taittiriya Aranyaka

An Āraṇyaka is the third division of Veda. The Taittiriya Aranyaka belongs to the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda. It has ten prapāṭhakas or sections. They are also called araṇas and praśnas. The ten prapāṭhakas are named according to the very first word of each, such as:

  1. Bhadra
  2. Sahavai
  3. Citti
  4. Etc.

Contents of Taittiriya Araṇyaka

The prapāṭhakas 7 to 9 form the well-known Taittiriya Upaniṣad. The last is the Mahānārāyaṇa or the Yājñikī Upanisad. A very brief summary of the work may now be given:

Prapāthaka 1

It contains the details connected with the rite called Aruṇaketuka.

Prapāthaka 2

It contains Svādhyāya or study of the Vedas. It also includes the rites of pañca-mahāyajñas.

Prapāthaka 3

It contains the rites involved in a symbolic sacrifice called Cāturhotracitti. It also includes the importance of the sun as the supporter of the world.

Prapāthaka 4

It contains the mantras useful in the Pravargya rite. It also includes the mantras to be used in abhicāra.[1]

Prapāthaka 5

This section deals mostly with symbols connected with sacrifices.

Prapāthaka 6

This deals with mantras used in the pitṛmedha.

Specialties of Taittiriya Aranyaka

Some of the special aspects of this Āraṇyaka can now be described as follows:

  • Methods of knowing, like pratyakṣa and anumāna
  • Aspects of Surya or the Sun-god
  • Viṣṇu as the support of the universe
  • Philosophical ideas, similar to the ones in the Upaniṣads
  • Some rules about bathing and fasting
  • Asuras[2] too perform sacrifices
  • Meditation on Āditya or Sun-god
  • Symbolical sacrifices
  • The Purusasukta
  • Abhicāra or black-magic

Conclusion

This Aranyaka was not meant only for the vānaprasthins or the forest-dwellers, but for common people.


References

  1. Abhicāra means black magic.
  2. Asuras are the nongods or antigods.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore