The Aranyakas (; Sanskrit: आरण्यक; IAST: āraṇyaka ) are the part of the ancient Indian Vedas concerned with the meaning of ritual sacrifice

They typically represent the later sections of the Vedas, and are one of many layers of the Vedic texts

The other parts of the Vedas are the Samhitas (benedictions, hymns), Brahmanas (commentary), and the Upanishads (spirituality and abstract philosophy)

Aranyakas describe and discuss rituals from various perspectives; some include philosophical speculations

For example, the Katha Aranyaka discusses rituals connected with the Pravargya

The 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 (कर्मकाण्ड), ritualistic action/sacrifice section, while the Upanishads are identified as jnana-kanda (ज्ञानकाण्ड) knowledge/spirituality section

In an alternate classification, the early part of Vedas are called Samhitas and the ritualistic commentary on the mantras and rituals 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 Brahmanas

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 later Vedic religious practices

The transition completes with the blossoming of ancient Indian philosophy from external sacrificial rituals to internalized philosophical treatise of Upanishads