Part of the Hindu Śruti that discuss philosophy, sacrifice and the New Year holiday. The Aranyakas (/ɑːˈrʌnjəkə/; Sanskrit: āraṇyaka) are the ritual sacrifice part of the ancient Indian texts, the Vedas. They typically represent the earlier sections of Vedas, and are one of many layers of the Vedic texts. The other parts of Vedas are the Samhitas (benedictions, hymns), Brahmanas (commentary), Upasanas (worship), and the Upanishads (spirituality and abstract philosophy).
Aranyakas describe and discuss rituals and sacrifices from various perspectives. For example, Katha Aranyaka describes rituals such as the Mahavrata and Pravargya. Aitareya Aranyaka includes explanation of the Mahavrata ritual from ritualisitic to symbolic meta-ritualistic points of view. Aranyakas, however, neither are homogeneous in content nor in structure. Aranyakas are sometimes identified as karma-kanda (ritualistic action/sacrifice section), while the Upanishads are identified as jnana-kanda (knowledge/spirituality section). In an alternate classification, the early part of Vedas are called Samhitas and the commentary are called the Brahmanas which together are identified as the ceremonial karma-kanda, while Aranyakas and Upanishads are referred to as the jnana-kanda.
In the immense volume of ancient Indian Vedic literature, there is no absolute universally true distinction between Aranyakas and Brahamanas. Similarly, there is no absolute distinction between Aranyakas and Upanishads, as some Upanishads are incorporated inside a few Aranyakas. Aranyakas, along with Brahmanas, represent the emerging transitions in early Vedic religious practices. The transition completes with the blossoming of ancient Indian philosophy from external sacrificial rituals to internalized philosophical treatise of Upanishads.