Difference between Vedas and Upanishads

The Vedas and the Upanishads are two of the most important holy texts in Hinduism, but they have some key differences.

The main difference between the Vedas and Upanishads is that the Vedas are a collection of hymns, prayers, poems and rituals while the Upanishads are philosophical-religious texts of Hinduism.

Before we move to the differences, let’s understand what are Vedas and Upanishads:

  • Vedas: Vedas is a Hindu scripture, which is considered the oldest record of the human civilization. Vedas contains the most important prayers and hymns for Hindus. They have been passed down from generation to generation through oral tradition.
  • Upanishads: Upanishads are a sub-category of Vedas, which are religious texts that form the basis of Hinduism. They are considered to be the most sacred texts in Hinduism, and they are believed to have been written by ancient sages (rishis) who were inspired by the divine. Upanishads contain philosophical teachings about how to live a good life according to Hindu principles.

Vedas vs Upanishads

Now, let’s move to Vedas vs Upanishads:

Major differences between Vedas and Upanishads

Vedas Upanishads
Vedas were written during the period of 1200 to 400 B.C.E. Upanishads were written during the period 700 to 400 B.C.E.
The meaning of the word “Veda” is “knowledge” in Sanskrit. The meaning of the word “Upanishad” means “sitting down close”.
Vedas are divided into 4 parts: Rigvada, Samaveda, Yajurveda, and Atharvaveda. Upanishads are divided into 14 parts which are: Katha, Kena, Isa, Mundaka, Prasna, Taittiriya, Chhandogya, Brihadaranyaka, Mandukya, Aitareya, Kaushitaki, Svetasvatara and Maitrayani.
Vedas focus on rituals and traditions. Upanishads focus on spiritual enlightment.
Vedas are the parent scripture. Upanishads are part of the Vedas.


That’s it.

Note that sometimes, the question might also be asked as “distinguish between Vedas and Upanishads”.

Also see:

Final words

The Vedas are the tree of wisdom, whose branches consist of four categories: dharma (moral conduct), artha (material success), kama (sensual pleasure), and moksha (spiritual liberation). The end segments of these branches where we find the fruits of wisdom hanging down are called Upanishads.

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