Difference Between Vedas And Upanishad- Definition, Meaning, Types Of Upanishads

By Trisha Tewari|Updated : December 1st, 2022

It is essential to comprehend the key difference between Vedas and Upanishads to get enriched with knowledge of these scriptures. Ancient Indians had composed many texts on almost every aspect of their lives. The Vedas are an assemblage of literature pertaining to 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. The major difference between Vedas and Upanishads is Vedas are focused on ritual aspects, and interpretations while the Upanishads are focused on spiritual insight.

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. We have facilitated the complete details of Vedas and Upanishads and the difference between Vedas and Upanishads. 

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What Are Vedas?

The Vedas comprise the spiritual texts which frame the core of the literature in ancient Hinduism. They are honored to be the most sacred of the Hindu principles. The word 'Veda' finds is present in the Sanskrit language, where it 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.

Difference Between Vedas and Upanishads

Vedas are also quoted as scriptures since these are an assemblage of the 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. It was passed by the teachers to their pupils for a long period. The disciples were mandates to attain the knowledge of the words and pronounce them right so that they could be passed without failing. Gradually, the pupils learn to pen down the words on the physical platform and hence led to the perseverance of the vedas.

What Are 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.

How Many Upanishads Are There?

Upanishads concern majorly on spiritual insights. Approximately 200 Upanishads have been discovered. Each Upanishad traces an association with a Veda. 14 Upanishads are the most renowned such as Kena, Isa, Katha, Mundaka, Prasna, Chhandogya, Taittiriya, Brihadaranyaka, Mandukya, Aitareya, Kaushitaki, Svetasvatara, Maitrayani.

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 in order to obtain enlightenment. Also, the Vedas were penned down between 1200 - 400 B.C.E., whereas the Upanishads were penned between 700 - 400 B.C.E. The difference between Vedas and Upanishads can be viewed in the table below:

Upanishads Vs Vedas



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 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 students must sit in close proximity to their teacher and listen carefully as he recites important teachings.


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FAQs On Difference Between Vedas and Upanishad

  • 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 in total 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.

  • Upanishads focus on spiritual insights. There are almost 400 Upanishads, and 14 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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 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 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.

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