Difference Between Vedas and Upanishad

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 17, 2022, 13:13

Ancient Indians had composed many texts on almost every aspect of their lives. The Vedas are a collection of religious literature that dates back to ancient India. The books, written in Vedic Sanskrit, are the earliest stratum of Sanskrit literature as well as Hinduism's earliest scriptures.

The Upanishads are Hindu religious books written in late Vedic Sanskrit that include religious teachings and beliefs. The Upanishads were influential in the formation of spiritual beliefs in the Vedic Era, signalling a shift away from Vedic rites and rituals and toward new ideas and systems.

What are the Vedas?

The Vedas are spiritually-themed texts which form the nucleus of literature in ancient Hinduism and are revered as the most sacred of the Hindu canon. The word 'Veda' is present in the Sanskrit language, where it connotes a knowledge conveyed through. The Vedas provide essential information regarding the foundations of life and one's reaction to it. The Vedas are regarded as one of the world's oldest texts.

Vedas are sometimes referred to be scriptures since they include sacred texts regarding the Divine's essence. It differs from other religions' scriptures in that it does not emphasize the thoughts of a certain individual at a given moment. In truth, it has always existed and was eventually discovered by sages.

The Vedas first existed as an oral tradition, passed down to disciples in a verbal by their teachers for ages. The disciples were required to learn the words correctly and pronounce them correctly so that they could be carried on without failure. Eventually, the students wrote the words down on a physical medium afterwards, and this is how the Vedas have been preserved today in their written form!

What are the Upanishads?

The Upanishads are scriptures that examine and establish the fundamentals of Hinduism, in particular its ontological ideas. The primary reading material is a series of conversations between teachers, or seers, and their pupils. These meetings take place while the teacher is seated next to the pupil ( hence the appropriate name given to these texts- Upa - ni- shad = sit down closer) and proceeds to explain how both the external universe, which is perceived as illusionary, works as well as describing how an individual should seek to dissolve their bondage with it and achieve liberation from earthly physicality by achieving spiritual enlightenment.

Difference Between Vedas and Upanishad

Vedas are actually composed of the oldest sacred texts found in India. Composed during a different period than the Upanishads, the Vedas also had a different purpose than that of Upanishads. The main difference between the Vedas and Upanishads is that the former is concerned mainly with intellectual thoughts, social customs, religious practices while the latter aims to entice audiences to focus on their inner selves in order to obtain enlightenment. Also, the Vedas were written between 1200 - 400 B.C.E., whereas the Upanishads were written between 700 - 400 B.C.E.

The difference between Vedas and Upanishads can be viewed in the table below:

The Vedas were written between the years 1200 - 400 B.C.E.Between 700 - 400 B.C.E., the Upanishads were written.
In Sanskrit, Vedas implies "knowledge."Upanishads refer to being near the teacher's feet.
The Vedas concentrated on ritual aspects, interpretations, and traditions.The Upanishads were concerned with spiritual insight.

There are four Vedas:

  1. Rigveda
  2. Samaveda
  3. Yajurveda
  4. Atharvaveda

There are around 200 Upanishads that have been unearthed. Each Upanishad is linked to a different Veda. The Upanishads are divided into 14 sections, that is the most well-known:

  1. Katha
  2. Kena
  3. Isa
  4. Mundaka
  5. Prasna
  6. Taittiriya
  7. Chhandogya
  8. Brihadaranyaka
  9. Mandukya
  10. Aitareya
  11. Kaushitaki
  12. Svetasvatara
  13. Maitrayani
In their physical shape, the Vedas differ from one another.The Upanishads are quite a subsection of Veda that can be found in the last portion of Veda.
The Vedas are divided into four primary text types: Samhitas, Aranyakas, Brahmanas, and Upanishads.Upanishads are one of the four primary Vedic literature genres. The Upanishads are philosophical and spiritual literature. Upanishads arose from each section of the Vedas. The Upanishads are concerned with the philosophical elements of existence.

The Vedas are texts which offer knowledge about the existence of the divine, and how humans should respond to the divine. The word adheres directly to a Sanskrit root, Veda - “to know”.

The Upanishads are philosophical texts that serve as a primary resource of information about Hinduism. The name "Upanishad" is derived from a Sanskrit word that means “sit down close” which emphasizes that the student must sit in close proximity to his teacher and listen carefully as he recites important teachings.

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FAQs on the Difference Between Vedas and Upanishad

Q1. What came first the Vedas or the Upanishads?

As a result, the Upanishads appeared after the Vedas and were later added to the scriptures. The Vedic writings serve as both inspiration and authority for them. The concept of the Vedas is expounded in the Upanishads in a more plain and intelligible manner while maintaining a lyrical tone.

Q2. Which of the four Vedas is the oldest?

Rig Veda is one of the pieces of literature ever written.

Q3. How old are Upanishads?

The origins of philosophy and spirituality in Indian history took place between 700 and 500 BCE, with the creation of the Upanishads.

Q.4. How are the Vedas and the Upanishads different?

The difference between the Vedas and the Upanishads is that the Vedas were authored to retain documentation about religious practices, customs, and spiritual thoughts, whereas the Upanishads are documented metaphysical thoughts of men and women that primarily focus on spiritual enlightenment.