You can read the introduction for this post here: Introduction
- Veda of Affiliation: Rig Veda
- Categorization: Mukhya, Primary or Major Upanishad
- Number of Verses: 33 Verses (in 3 divisions)
- Student / Author: Sage Mahidasa Aitareya
- Teacher: Someone revered as Prithvi or Goddess Earth
The Rig Veda has a section known as the Aitareya Aranyaka. The Aitareya Upanishad is a part of the Aitareya Aranyaka.
Aryanaka means ‘of the forest’. These are meeting notes of sages who lived in the forests. The Aitareya Aranyaka documents the sages’ discussions about the Rig Veda’s content.
In all, the Aitareya Aranyaka has eighteen parts. Those are divided across five segments. Three parts (4, 5, & 6) from the second segment make up the Aitareya Upanishad.
The Aitareya Upanishad is a subset of a larger Upanishad. That larger Upanishad is known as the Bahvrika or Maha-Aitareya Upanishad. It comprises Aitareya Aranyaka’s entire second segment and two parts from the third segment.
About the Author
The author of Aitareya Upanishad is Sage Mahidasa Aitareya.
Legend has it that Aitareya was born to a mother of an underprivileged caste. So, he got rejected from his upper-class father’s ceremonial events. That caused distress to Aitareya.
A teacher, known as Prithvi or Goddess Earth, helped Aitareya go beyond his suffering. Sage Aitareya documents his learnings in the Aitareya Upanishad.
According to Sankaracharya, the Bahvrika or Maha-Aitareya Upanishad contains information for three sets of people:
- Those who care only about worldly life.
- Those who wish to move away from the world gradually.
- Those who’ve had enough of this world and are in the pursuit of liberation.
The Aitareya Upanishad appeals to the third set of people referred above.
You can read the next part in this series here: Part 2