An Āraṇyaka is the third division of Veda.
The Taittirīya Āraṇyaka belongs to the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda. It has ten prapāṭha-kas or sections. They are also called araṇas and praśnas.
The ten prapāṭhakas are named according to the very first word of each, such as Bhadra, Sahavai, Citti and so on. The prapāṭhakas 7 to 9 form the well-known Taittirīya Upaniṣad. The last is the Mahānārāyaṇa (or the Yājñikī) Upaniṣad.
A very brief summary of the work may now be given:
Details connected with the rite called Āruṇaketuka.
Svādhyāya (study of the Vedas); pañca-mahāyajñas (See PAÑCAMAHĀYAJÑAS.)
A symbolic sacrifice called Cātur-hotracitti; importance of the sun as the supporter of the world.
Mantras useful in the Pravargya rite (See PRAVARGYA); mantras to be used in abhicāra (black magic).
This section deals mostly with symbols connected with sacrifices.
This deals with mantras used in the pitṛmedha (See PITṚMEDHA.).
Some of the special aspects of this Āraṇyaka can now be described:
Methods of knowing, like pratyakṣa and anumāna; aspects of Sūrya 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 (nongods or antigods?) too perform sacrifices; meditation on Āditya or Sun-god; symbolical sacrifices; the Puruṣasūkta; abhicāra or black-magic.
It is obvious, from a study of its contents, that this Āraṇyaka was not meant only for the vānaprasthins or the forest-dwellers.