of the Yajur Veda for the officiating priest (adhvaryu) and those of the Sama
Veda for the chanting priest (udgatri).
These forest books deal with mysticism and symbolism of sacrifice and
priestly philosophy. The Aranyakas contain transitional material between the
mythology and ritual of the Samhitas and Brahmanas, on the one hand, and
the philosophical speculations of the Upanishads on the other. The ritual is
given a symbolic meaning, and knowledge of this meaning becomes more
important than the performance of the ritual itself. This principle then
becomes the starting point of Upanishadic speculation. Two Aranyakas, the
Aitareya and the Kausitaki, are attached to the Rig Veda. The Kausitaki
Aranyaka expounds the pranagnihotra (the fire oblation through breath) as a
substitute for the basic rite. This idea of the inner and mental offering as
distinguished from the outer and formal sacrifice is an important element in
the transition from the Brahmanas to the Upanishads.
They are philosophical texts dealing with topics like the Universal Soul, the
Absolute, the individual self, the origin of the world, the mysteries of nature,
and so on. They mark the culmination of Indian thought in the Vedic period.
They criticise the rituals and lay stress on the value of right belief and
knowledge. Of the several Upanishads, only 12 are very important. They are:
(1) Aitareya, (2) Kausitaki, (3) Chandogya, (4) Kena, (5) Taittiriya, (6)
Katha, (7) Svetasvatara, (8) Brihadaranyaka, (9) Isa, (10) Mundaka, (11)
Prasna and (12) Mandukya. (1 and 2 belong to the Rig Veda, 3 and 4 to the
Sama Veda, 5 to 9 to the Yajur Veda and finally 10 to 12 to the Atharva
    According to the Upanishads, there are two kinds of knowledge: the
higher and the lower. The higher knowledge helps us to know the
imperishable Brahman, while the lower can be gathered from the four Vedas
as well as the six Vedangas (Limbs of Vedas). The Mundaka Upanishad is
chiefly notable for the clear distinction it makes between the higher
                                Brahman and the lower knowledge of the
knowledge of the supreme