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Aitareya Aranyaka belongs to the Shakala shaka of the Rigveda and it consists of five books each of which is again called Aranyaka (आरण्यकम्). The five books together contain 18 adhyayas (अध्यायाः) subdivided into Kandas (खण्डाः). There are a few variations about the rshis who gave the Aitareya aranyaka.


First āRaṇyaka.

First Adhyāya.

First Khaṇḍa.

1. Now follows the Mahāvrata ceremony.

2. After having killed Vṛtra, Indra became great. When he became great, then there was the Mahāvrata (the great work). This is why the Mahāvrata ceremony is called Mahāvrata.

3. Some people say: ‘Let the priest make two (recitations with the offering of the) ājya (ghee) on that day,’ but the right thing is one.

4. He who desires prosperity should use the hymn, pra vo devāyāgnaye (Rv. III, 13, 1).

5. He who desires increase should use the hymn, viśo viśo atithim (Rv. VIII, 74, 1).

6. The people (visaḥ) indeed are increase, and therefore he (the sacrificer) becomes increased.

7. But (some say), there is the word atithim (in that hymn, which means a guest or stranger, asking for food). Let him not therefore take that hymn. Verily, the atithi (stranger) is able to go begging.

8. ‘No,’ he said, ‘let him take that hymn.

9. ‘For he who follows the good road and obtains distinction, he is an atithi (guest).

10. ‘They do not consider him who is not so, worthy to be (called) an atithi (guest).

11. ‘Therefore let him by all means take that hymn.’

12. If he takes that hymn, let him place the (second) tristich, āganma vṛtrahantamam, ‘we came near to the victorious,’ first.

13. For people worship the whole year (performing the Gavāmayana sacrifice) wishing for this day (the last but one) — they do come near.

14. The (next following) three tristichs begin with an Anushṭubh. Now Brahman is Gāyatrī, speech is Anushṭubh. He thus joins speech with Brahman.

15. He who desires glory should use the hymn, abodhy agniḥ samidhā ganānām (Rv. V, 1, 1).

16. He who desires offspring and cattle should use the hymn, hotājanishta cetanaḥ (Rv. II, 5, 1).

Second Khaṇḍa.

1. He who desires proper food should use the hymn, agnim naro dīdhitibhiḥ (Rv. VII, 1, 1).

2. Verily, Agni (fire) is the eater of food.

In the other (recitations accompanying the) offerings of ājya (where Agni is likewise mentioned) the worshippers come more slowly near to Agni (because the name of Agni does not stand at the beginning of the hymn). But here a worshipper obtains proper food at once, he strikes down evil at once.

3. Through the words (occurring in the second foot of the first verse), hastacyuti janayanta, ‘they caused the birth of Agni by moving their arms,’ the hymn becomes endowed with (the word) birth. Verily, the sacrificer is born from this day of the sacrifice, and therefore the hymn is endowed with (the word) birth.

4. There are four metrical feet (in the Trishṭubh verses of this hymn). Verily, cattle have four feet, therefore they serve for the gaining of cattle.

5. There are three metrical feet (in the Virāj, verses of this hymn). Verily, three are these three-fold worlds. Therefore they serve for the conquest of the worlds.

6. These (the Trishṭubh and Virāj verses of the hymn) form two metres, which form a support (pratishṭhā). Verily, man is supported by two (feet), cattle by four feet. Therefore this hymn places the sacrificer who stands on two feet among cattle which stand on four.

7. By saying them straight on there are twenty-five verses in this hymn. Man also consists of twenty-five. There are ten fingers on his hands, ten toes on his feet, two legs, two arms, and the trunk (ātman) the twenty-fifth. He adorns that trunk, the twenty-fifth, by this hymn.

8. And then this day (of the sacrifice) consists of twenty-five, and the Stoma hymn of that day consists of twenty-five (verses); it becomes the same through the same. Therefore these two, the day and the hymn, are twenty-five.

9. These twenty-five verses, by repeating the first thrice and the last thrice, become thirty less one. This is a Virāj, verse (consisting of thirty syllables), too small by one. Into the small (heart) the vital spirits are placed, into the small stomach food is placed, therefore this Virāj, small by one, serves for the obtainment of those desires.

10. He who knows this, obtains those desires.

11. The verses (contained in the hymn agnim naro dīdhitibhiḥ) become the Bṛhatī metre and the Virāj metre, (they become) the perfection which belongs to that day (the mahāvrata). Then they also become Anushṭubh, for the offerings of ājya (ghee) dwell in Anushṭubhs.

Third Khaṇḍa.

1. Some say: ‘Let him take a Gāyatrī hymn for the Pra-uga. Verily, Gāyatrī is brightness and glory of countenance, and thus the sacrificer becomes bright and glorious.’

2. Others say: ‘Let him take a Ushṇih hymn for the Pra-uga. Verily, Ushṇih is life, and thus the sacrificer has a long life.’

Others say: ‘Let him take an Anushṭubh hymn for the Pra-uga. Verily, Anushṭubh is valour, and it serves for obtaining valour.’

Others say: ‘Let him take a Bṛhatī hymn for the Pra-uga. Verily, Bṛhatī is fortune, and thus the sacrificer becomes fortunate.’

Others say: ‘Let him take a Paṅkti hymn for the Pra-uga. Verily, Paṅkti is food, and thus the sacrificer becomes rich in food.’

Others say: ‘Let him take a Trishṭubh hymn for the Pra-uga. Verily, Trishṭubh is strength, and thus the sacrificer becomes strong.’

Others say: ‘Let him take a Jagatī hymn for the Pra-uga. Verily, cattle is Jagatī-like, and thus the sacrificer becomes rich in cattle.’

But we say: ‘Let him take a Gāyatrī hymn only. Verily, Gāyatrī is Brahman, and that day (the mahāvrata) is (for the attainment of) Brahman. Thus he obtains Brahman by means of Brahman.

4. ‘And it must be a Gāyatrī hymn by Madhucchandas,

5. ‘For Madhucchandas is called Madhucchandas, because he wishes (chandati) for honey (madhu) for the Ṛshis.

6. ‘Now food verily is honey, all is honey, all desires are honey, and thus if he recites the hymn of Madhucchandas, it serves for the attainment of all desires.

7. ‘He who knows this, obtains all desires.’

This (Gāyatrī pra-uga), according to the one-day (ekāha) ceremonial, is perfect in form. On that day (the mahāvrata) much is done now and then which has to be hidden, and has to be atoned for by recitation of hymns). Atonement (śānti) is rest, the one-day sacrifice. Therefore at the end of the year (on the last day but one of the sacrifice that lasts a whole year) the sacrificers rest on this atonement as their rest.

8. He who knows this rests firm, and they also for whom a Hotṛ priest who knows this, recites this hymn.

Fourth Khaṇḍa.

1. Rv. I, 2, 1-3. Vāyav ā yāhi darśateme somā araṃ kṛtāḥ, ‘Approach, O Vāyu, conspicuous, these Somas have been made ready.’ Because the word ready occurs in these verses, therefore is this day (of the sacrifice) ready (and auspicious) for the sacrificer and for the gods.

2. Yes, this day is ready (and auspicious) to him who knows this, or for whom a Hotṛ priest who knows this, recites.

3. Rv. I, 2, 4-6. Indravāyū ime sutā, ā yātam upa nishkṛtam, ‘Indra and Vāyu, these Somas are prepared, come hither towards what has been prepared.’ By nishkṛta, prepared, he means what has been well prepared (saṃskṛta).

4. Indra and Vāyu go to what has been prepared by him who knows this, or for whom a Hotṛ priest who knows this, recites.

5. Rv. I, 2, 7. Mitraṃ huve pūtadaksham, dhiyaṃ ghṛtākīṃ sādhantā, ‘I call Mitra of holy strength; (he and Varuṇa) they fulfil the prayer accompanied with clarified butter.’ Verily, speech is the prayer accompanied with clarified butter.

6. Speech is given to him who knows this, or for whom a Hotṛ priest who knows this, recites.

7. Rv. I, 3, 1. Aśvinā yajvarīr ishaḥ, ‘O Aśvinau, (eat) the sacrificial offerings.’ Verily, the sacrificial offerings are food, and this serves for the acquirement of food.

8. Rv. I, 3, 3. Ā yātaṃ rudravartanī, ‘Come hither, ye Rudravartanī.’

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