Āraṇyakas


Āraṇyakas

▪ Hindu literature
      (Sanskrit: “Books of the Forest”), a later development of the Brāhmaṇas, or expositions of the Vedas, which were composed in India in about 700 BC. The Āraṇyakas are distinguished from the Brāhmaṇas in that they may contain information on secret rites to be carried out only by certain persons, and more philosophic speculation. Thus they were intended to be studied only by the initiated, by which might have been meant either hermits who had withdrawn into the forest and no longer took part in ritual sacrifices or pupils who were given instruction by their teachers in the seclusion of the forest, away from the village. The Āraṇyakas are given over to secret explanations of the allegorical meaning of the ritual and to discussion of the internal, meditative meaning of the sacrifice, as contrasted to its actual, outward performance. The philosophic portions, more speculative in content, are sometimes called Upanishads (Upanishad).

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