how certain portions of the Mahâvrata, as described in the first Âranyaka, can be made to suggest a deeper meaning, and ought to lead the mind of the sacrificer away from the purely outward ceremonial to meditation on higher subjects. Without a knowledge of the first Âranyaka therefore the first Upanishad would be almost unintelligible, and though its translation was extremely tedious, it could not well have been omitted.
The second and third Upanishads are not connected with the ceremonial of the Mahâvrata, but in the fourth and fifth Âranyakas the Mahâvrata forms again the principal subject, treated, however, not as before in the style of the Brâhmanas, but in the style of Sûtras. The fourth Âranyaka contains nothing but a list of the Mahânâmnî hymns, but the fifth describes the Mahâvrata again, so that if the first Âranyaka may be looked upon as a portion of the Aitareya-brâhmanas, the fifth could best be classed with the Sûtras of Âsvalâyana.
To a certain extent this fact, the composite character of the Aitareya-âranyaka, is recognised even by native scholars, who generally do not trouble themselves much on such questions. They look both on the Aitareya-brâhmana and on the greater portion of Aitareya-âranyaka as the works of an inspired Rishi, Mahidâsa Aitareya, but they consider the fourth and fifth books of the Âranyaka as contributed by purely human authors, such as Âsvalâyana and Saunaka, who, like other Sûtrakâras, took in verses belonging to other Sâkhâs, and did not confine their rules to their own Sâkhâ only.
There are many legends about Mahidâsa, the reputed author of the Aitareya-brâhmana and Âranyaka. He is
- See Boehtlingk and Roth, s.v. "Neun Vedische Verse die in ihrem vollständigen Wortlaut aber noch nicht nachgewiesen sind." Weber, Indische Stadien VIII, 68. How these hymns are to be employed we learn from the Âsvalâyana-sûtras VII, 12, 10, where we are told that if the Udgâtris sing the Sâkvara Sâman as the Prishthastotra, the nine verses beginning with Vidâ maghavan, and known by the name of Mahânâmnî, are to be joined in a peculiar manner. The only excuse given, why these Mahânâmnîs are mentioned here, and not in the Brahmana, is that they are to be studied in the forest.
- M. M., History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, pp. 177, 335.