Difference Between Vedas and Upanishads With their Detailed Comparisons

Vedas are the oldest religious scriptures of the Sanskrit literature. Vedas are shruti (what is heard) and are said to be heard by Sages during their meditation. These were then passed down generation to generation in oral form. The focus was on the Vedas’ pronunciation and then later in the Vedic period, these texts were recorded in written form. Upanishads are a distinct part of the Vedas.

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What is the Difference Between Vedas and Upanishads


Vedas are religious texts that originated in ancient India. Vedas is derived from the Sanskrit word “Vedah” which means knowledge. These are the oldest Sanskrit literature and are the core scriptures of Hinduism. There are four Vedas in total: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda.

Each Veda is further categorised into four subdivisions each-

  • The Samhitas- a collection of mantras and benedictions.
  • The Aranyakas- a collection of text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices).
  • The Brahmanas- a collection of commentary on the said rituals.
  • The Upanishads- a collection of philosophical narrative and dialogues.

Vedas are termed as Shruti, which stands for “what is heard”. Vedas have not been said to known to any certain person at a specific moment but rather were heard by sages in their deep meditation. Afterwards, these were passed down to students by the masters. The Vedas were converted into written form in the Vedic period of ancient India.


The Upanishads are religious texts of Hinduism which are part of the Vedas. The central idea of Upanishads revolves around the ritual observance and the individual’s place in the universe. According to traditional beliefs, sage Vyasa was the one who created the Upanishads.

Upanishads used narrative and dialogues to teach the meaning of spiritual understanding and encourage one to understand himself on a spiritual level. Out of the 108 known Upanishads, 13 are the oldest and most important termed as the Mukhya or principal Upanishads.

  1. Brhadaranyaka Upanishad
  2. Chandogya Upanishad
  3. Taittiriya Upanishad
  4. Aitereya Upanishad
  5. Kausitaki Upanishad
  6. Kena Upanishad
  7. Katha Upanishad
  8. Isha Upanishad
  9. Svetasvatara Upanishad
  10. Mundaka Upanishad
  11. Prashna Upanishad
  12. Maitri Upanishad
  13. Mandukya Upanishad

Upanishads introduced the concept of gods and the creation of the universe. The atman which was same as that to the Brahman was talked about. The mind and body were not equal to the Brahman, but the atman was, which was a part of the Brahman or is the Brahman.

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Points of Difference Between Vedas and Upanishads

Given below are the points of difference between Vedas and Upanishads.

Vedas Upanishads
Vedas are the oldest Sanskrit literature and are central scriptures of the Hinduism. Upanishads are the subcategory of the Vedas among the other categorisation which are-  Samhitas, Aranyakas and Brahmanas.
Their are four vedas in total- Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda. Out of the many Upanishads written, 13 Upanishads are the mukhya or main scriptures.
The concepts revolve around the philosophical and ritual observances. Upanishads talk about the philosophical aspects and the individual’s place in the universe.
Vedas mean knowledge in Sanskrit. It is considered to be apauruseya, which means”, not of a man or superhuman”. The meaning of the word is translated into to sit down closely or listen attentively to the teacher. It also means secret knowledge.
The Vedas give complete knowledge of rituals, traditions, philosophies and spiritual knowledge. Upanishads talk about atman or the spiritual enlightenment. It builds the fundamental concepts of the Supreme or God who created this universe.
The Vedas were written in the Vedic period of Ancient India from 1500- 500BC. The Upanishads were written in the later stages of the writing of Vedas in 700-500BC.

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