As I discuss in this answer, each of the four Vedas consists of four portions: Samhitas, the core part of the Vedas which consist of verses heard from the gods; Brahmanas, which provide instructions on the proper conducting of important rituals; Aranyakas, which provide a guide to rituals meant for forest-dwellers and hermits; and Upanishads, which consist of conversations between teachers and students which clarify the philosophical message of the Vedas. But the Shukla Yajur Veda is organized differently. (There are two versions of the Yajur Veda, the Shukla or "white" version and the Krishna or "dark" version.)

The Shukla Yajur Veda only consists of two portions: a Samhita, called the Vajasaneyi Samhita, and a Brahmana, called the Shatapatha Brahmana. That doesn't mean that it's missing Aranyakas and Upanishads, just that they're located in strange places. One Upanishad, the Isha Upanishad, is actually part of the Vajasaneyi Samhita, as I discuss in this question. Another Upanishad, the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, is part of the Shatapatha Brahmana, specifically forming Adhyayas (chapters) 4-9 of the 14th Kanda of the Shatapatha Brahmana.

But my question is about the Aranyaka of the Shukla Yajur Veda, known as the Brihad Aranyaka. According to this Wikipedia page, the Brihad Aranyaka is also part of the Shatapatha Brahmana, specifically forming Adhyayss 1-3 of the 14th Kanda of the Shatapatha Brahmana. So if Wikipedia is right, that would mean that of the nine Adhyayas of the 14th Kanda, the first three form the Brihad Aranyaka and the last six form the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. But that doesn't make sense to me; why would the name be Brihadaranyaka Upanishad if it were separate from the Brihad Aranyaka?

Could it be that the Brihad Aranyaka constitutes the entire 14th Kanda of the Shatapatha Brahmana, making the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad part of the Brihad Aranyaka? To put it another way, is the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad an Upanishad inside of an Aranyaka inside of a Brahmana, or just an Upanishad inside of a Brahmana? (Whew!)

  • Is the above information true? If so, there must be only 4 in each category for 4 Vedas and , i.e, 4 Samhitas, 4 Brahmanas, etc. However, I heard that there were so many Upanishads? How is it possible? Oct 11, 2015 at 11:32
  • @srimannarayanakv It's because each Veda had multiple Shakhas, as I discuss in my answer here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/6807/36 Each Shakha would have its own Upanishad. Most of the Vedic Shakhas have been lost except for their Upanishads. (Thankfully it's not a very big loss, because the Samhitas of the different Shakhas tended to be nearly identical with one another.) Oct 11, 2015 at 11:40

2 Answers 2


Brihadaranyak Upanishad is actually the Brihad Aarnyaka itself.

As far as I know the Aarnyaka of Shukla Yajurveda (Shatapatha Brahmana) is called Brihad Aranyaka and is considered as Upanishad.

Let me cite some quote from web to support this:

From hi.wikipedia.org:

वस्तुत: शुक्ल युजर्वेद का एक आरण्यक ही है, परंतु आध्यात्मिक तथ्यों की प्रचुरता के कारण यह उपनिषदों में गिना जाता है।

English meaning: Actually it is one Aaranyaka of Shukla Yajurveda but considered in the category of Upanishad because of abundance/sufficiency of spiritual facts of it.

From bharatdiscovery.org:

इस शुक्लयजुर्वेदीय आरण्यक की विशेष प्रसिद्धि उपनिषद के रूप में है।

English meaning: The popularity/fame of this Aaranyaka of Shuklya Yajurveda is as the Upanishad.

So, I think Brihad Aaranyak and Brihadaranyak Upanishad should be same.

Note that two Shakha - Vajasneyi Madhyandina and Vajasneyi Kanva have their own Shatpatha Brahmana which are different and the difference may also be in the case of Brihadaranyaka but I've heard/read about two different version of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad; wikipedia also shows one/same Brihadaranyaka Upanishad for both Shakha



The Satapatha Brāhmaṇa has the Kāṇva and Mādhyandina recensions, which differ greatly from each other in content as well as the number and arrangement of their books and chapters, the former having seventeen Kāṇḍas or books, and the latter only fourteen. The Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad forms the concluding portion of the last book, named 'Āraṇyaka,' of both recensions. But while the bulk of matter in both versions is the same, there are marked discrepancies too. Sankara has commented upon the Kāṇva recension. - (Introduction Section of The Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad, Page XVIII)

Thus, the entire last Kanda of the Satapatha Brahmana is the Brihadaranyaka. But, the entire Aranyaka section is not the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad. The end part of that Aranyaka is the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad.

Reference -

The Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad with the Commentary of Śankarācārya translated by Swami Madhavananda, Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati, Almora, Himalaya

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