David Kinsley, author of Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition, wrote:
One hymn of the Rg-veda (10.146) refers to a goddess of the forest, Aranyani. From this one hymn we get a rather clear picture of the goddess. She is an elusive figure who vanishes from sight and avoids villages. She is more often heard than seen. She speaks through the sounds of the forest, or one may even hear her tinkling bells. She seems to make her presence known especially at evening, and those who spend the night in the forest sometimes think they hear her scream. She never kills unless provoked by some murderous enemy. She is sweetly scented, is mother of all forest things, and provides plenty of food without tilling.
To develop a special relationship with her, create trails! She has a lot to say about how you do that, and she loves to change them for you.
In Part 1, I said that Aranyani is incarnate as forest; forest is the embodiment of Aranyani. Maybe this is why she is so seldom depicted in human form by classical artists, unlike so many other deities.
I was happily surprised to find this work by photographer Bijan Pirnia titled Aranyani, The Hindu Goddess Of Forests, with no anthropomorphic entity in it (that I can find). It is just forest, the embodiment of Aranyani!
Enjoy browsing terrific forest photos by Bijan Pirnia. Thank you, Bijan.
Back to making trails with Aranyani …
The following are not pretty pictures, just documentary, to show you one part of the Aranyaka Maze of paths, each a unique experience. I’m starting with the path into Aranyaka Sanctuary from the west.
During a slow sylvan saunter, if I stand still more than move, in bodily senses and in palpable transcendent essences I find reminders that nature made me to thrive among immortal woodland spirits, in refuge from the illusory blessings of merely mortal society. I cannot exceed the company of trees, nor regret deep solitude among them.
Each phase of nature, while not invisible, is yet not too distinct and obtrusive. It is there to be found when we look for it, but not demanding our attention. It is like a silent but sympathizing companion in whose company we retain most of the advantages of solitude … — Henry David Thoreau, Journal, November 8, 1858