|Goddess of the Forests and the Animals that dwell within them|
Aranyani has the distinction of having one of the most descriptive hymns in the Rigveda dedicated to her, in which she is described as being elusive, fond of quiet glades in the jungle, and fearless of remote places. In the hymn, the supplicant entreats her to explain how she wanders so far from the fringe of civilization without becoming afraid or lonely. She wears anklets with bells, and though seldom seen, she can be heard by the tinkling of her anklets. She is also described as a dancer. Her ability to feed both man and animals though she 'tills no lands' is what the supplicant finds most marvellous. The hymn is repeated in Taittiriya Brahmana and interpreted by the commentator of that work.
Aranyani bears resemblance to later day forest deities like Bonobibi in Bengal, Vanadevata in Goa and Konkan, Vanadurga in parts of South India. Her worship has declined in modern-day Hinduism, and it is rare to find a temple dedicated to Aranyani.
- The Hymns of the Rigveda, Ralph T. H. Griffith, 1973. Hymn CXLVI, Page 640
- Muir, John (1870). Original Sanskrit Texts on the Origin and History of the People of India. London: Trubner and Co. p. 422.
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