Vedas and Upanishads - Difference between Vedas and Upanishads

By Trisha Tewari|Updated : January 29th, 2023

The major difference between Vedas and Upanishads is how Vedas are focused on ritual aspects and interpretations, while the Upanishads focus on spiritual insight. Ancient Indians had composed many texts on almost every aspect of their lives. The Vedas are an assemblage of literature about literature that traces back to ancient India. The religious books, imprinted in Vedic Sanskrit, are the earliest division of literature of Sanskrit in addition to Hinduism's earliest scriptures.

Difference between Vedas and Upanishads PDF

The Upanishads are Hindu religious books written in late Vedic Sanskrit that include religious teachings and beliefs. The Upanishads were influential in forming spiritual beliefs in the Vedic Era, signaling a shift away from Vedic rites and rituals and toward new ideas and systems. We have facilitated the complete details of how many Upanishads are there, Vedas and Upanishads meaning in history, and the difference between Vedas and Upanishads.

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Difference between Vedas and Upanishads

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, and religious practices, while the latter aims to entice audiences to focus on their inner selves to obtain enlightenment.
  • Also, the Vedas were penned between 1200 - 400 B.C.E., whereas the Upanishads were penned between 700 - 400 B.C.E.

Upanishads vs Vedas

Vedas and Upanishads



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 have been unearthed. Each Upanishad is linked to a different Veda. The Upanishads are divided into 13 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.

Vedas and Upanishads

Vedas comprised of large body of religious texts that developed during ancient India. The late Vedic Sanskrit texts of spiritual teachings and visions still respected in Hinduism can be stated as Upanishads Meaning. Learn more about the individual meaning and difference between Vedas and Upanishads below.

What are Vedas?

The Vedas comprise the spiritual texts which frame the core of the literature in ancient Hinduism. They are honoured to be the most sacred of the Hindu principles. The word 'Veda' is present in the Sanskrit language, which denotes the meaning of "knowledge conveyed".

  • The Vedas furnish sacred and pivotal information pertaining to the fundamental of life and one's reaction toward it.
  • The Vedas are considered to be the most ancient text.
  • The word Vedas adheres directly to a Sanskrit root, Veda - “to know”.
  • Vedas are also quoted as scriptures since these are an assemblage of sacred texts pertaining to the essence of the Divine.
  • It marks its distinction from other religious scriptures.
  • It does not focus on the thoughts of a certain individual at a given moment.
  • In reality, it has always traced its existence and, in due course, was located by sages.
  • The Vedas first located its existence as a tradition of passing down orally to the disciples.
  • The teachers passed it to their pupils for a long period.
  • The disciples were mandated to learn the words and pronounce them right so they could be passed without failing.
  • Gradually, the pupils learn to pen down the words on the physical platform, leading to the perseverance of the Vedas.

What are Upanishads?

The Upanishads are scriptures that examine and establish the fundamentals of Hinduism, particularly 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.
  • The name "Upanishad" is derived from a Sanskrit word that means “sit down close”, which emphasizes that the students must sit in close proximity to their teacher and listen carefully as he recites important teachings.

How Many Upanishads are There?

Upanishads concern majorly with spiritual insights. Approximately 200 Upanishads have been discovered. Each Upanishad traces an association with a Veda. 13 types of Upanishads are the most renowned such as:


Upanishads UPSC

It is important for UPSC candidates to know crucial facts about how many Upanishads are there, Upanishads meaning, and major key difference between Vedas and Upanishads while preparing for the Ancient Indian History Section of the IAS Exam 2023.

To prepare well for the subject, aspirants can check and download Prelims & Mains Ancient Indian History Notes from the available link to practice all the relevant Upanishads UPSC questions.


Key Difference between Vedas and Upanishads

The key difference between Vedas and Upanishads is that the Vedas offer knowledge about the existence of the divine and how humans should respond to the divine. In contrast, the Upanishads are philosophical texts that serve as a primary resource of information about Hinduism.


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FAQs on Difference Between Vedas and Upanishads

  • The difference between Vedas and Upanishads in literary terms is Veda is the Sanskrit word deriving its meaning as "knowledge", while Upanishads mean near to "teacher's feet.

  • Upanishads focus on spiritual insights. There are almost 400 Upanishads, and 13 are well renowned.

    • Each Upanishad has an association with Veda.
    • The well-renowned Upanishads are Kena, Isa, Katha, Mundaka, Prasna, Chhandogya, Taittiriya, Brihadaranyaka, Mandukya, Aitareya, Kaushitaki, Svetasvatara, Maitrayani.
  • The difference between Vedas and Upanishads concerning who came first is that 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.
  • Rig Veda is one of the pieces of literature ever written. Rig Veda means "Knowledge of the Verses". It has been written in the Sanskrit language. Vedas are considered important and sacred scriptures of the Hindu religion and depict treasure burials of wisdom and mastery.

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

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

  • The Vedas and the Upanishads are similar in that they represent the same beliefs; the Upanishads are illustrative dialogues which further discuss what the Vedic carols mean.

  • The Upanishads are also known as Vedanta – “the end of the Vedas” because they meet the holy exposure obtained by the philosophers at some moment in history. The Vedas are viewed as Shruti (“what is heard”) as they were acquired directly from God by sages in a profoundly meditative condition.

  • The major difference between Vedas and Upanishads is Vedas focus on the ritual aspects, interpretations, and traditions while Upanishads focus on spiritual insights.

    • There are 4 Vedas and 200 Upanishads, out of which 14 are well renowned.
    • The Vedas were penned down in 1200-400 B.C.E., and the Upanishads were penned in 700-400 B.C.E.

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