The third category of texts that form part of Vedic literature are the Aranyakas. Certain different rituals and sacrifices are described in them, and the symbolism of these rituals is also explained. They also have philosophical passages. The Aranyakas can be called ‘forest texts’ as aranya=forest. Some feel that these texts were for the vanaprastha stage of life, the third stage of the traditional varnashrama dharma, when the householder, having fulfilled his duties, retired to the forest. Others feel these texts explain the more complex sacrifices to be conducted away from the village or town.
As for the Brahmanas, each Aranyaka is attached to a Vedic Samhita.
The varnashrama dharma has not been explained earlier. It divides life into four stages, the first, that of the student or brahmachari, the second of the householder, the third, as seen above, when the householder retires to the forest, usually along with his wife, and the fourth, the stage of the sannyasi or ascetic, fully focused on god. This was a logical way of living, as at least in the final stage, there was an attempt to understand and focus on questions relating to life, death, and god, thus preparing the individual to meet death in a calm way.