Difference between Vedas and Upanishads

Difference between Vedas and Upanishads

The Vedas are a collection of religious writings that are considered to have originated in India in prehistory. The books were written in Vedic Sanskrit and are considered to be the first foundation of Sanskrit literature as well as the earliest scriptures of the Hindu religion. Upanishads are in the last section of any Vedas. Upanishads are a subcategory of a Veda.

The Upanishads are a collection of late Vedic books written in Sanskrit that are venerated across Hinduism for their religious teachings and ideals. The Upanishads were an important part in the evolution of spiritual thought in ancient India. They marked a transition from the Vedic ritualism that had been practiced for a long time to new concepts and organizations.

Key differences

  1. Vedas were composed over a time period ranging from 1200 to 400 B.C.E. The Upanishads were written over a time period ranging from 700 to 400 B.C.E.
  2. Vedas focused on ritualistic details, uses and traditions. Upanishads focused on Spiritual enlightenment.
  3. Vedas means knowledge in Sanskrit. It is known as “Apauruseya” meaning not of man. Upanishad is derived from the words upa (near) and shad (to sit). It is derived from the concept of sitting near the feet of the teacher.
  4. There are 4 different Vedas – Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda, Atharvaveda.
  5. There are 108 Upanishads. There are 13 popular Upanishads which are most well known or most important.  They include – Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, Chandogya Upanishad, Taittiriya Upanishad. Aitereya Upanishad, Kausitaki Upanishad, Kena Upanishad, Katha Upanishad, Isha Upanishad, Svetasvatara Upanishad, Mundaka Upanishad, Prashna Upanishad, Maitri Upanishad, Mandukya Upanishad.

Vedas and the Upanishads

The Four Vedas

There are four Vedas namely:

  1. Rigveda, made up of 1028 hymns.
  2. Yajurveda, divided into the White- and Black Yaruveda and denoted to explaining rituals, sacrifices, and ceremonies.
  3. Samaveda, comprised of the Rigveda text, but restructured to be chanted.
  4. Atharvaveda, written in a more folkloric style it contains charms and magical incantations.

Four Parts of Vedas

The Vedas typically contain four parts:

  1. Mantra Potion – mostly containing poems.
  2. Brahmanas – Detail how rituals are done (Karma Kanda).
  3. Aranyakas – contain upAsanAs, certain vidya’s like brahma vidya, meditation. The Aranyakas are a bridge between ritualistic and Upanishad parts.
  4. Vedantam (Upanishads) – Wisdom (Gyana Kanda) represents the philosophical portion of the Vedas.

Total number of Upanishads

According to Muktik Upanishad, which was written around 1656, there are 108 Upanishads. However, 11 Upanishads are considered principal Upanishads, or primary Upanishads. The list of which is as follows:

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

Each of the principal Upanishads can be associated with one of the schools of the four Vedas. The Upanishads are considered the “end of the Vedas” (Vedanta) in that they expand upon, explain the on spiritual knowledge, meditation, and philosophy.


Finally, we would like to brush up what we read throughout this article. In this article, we read the total number of Upanishads and Vedas. We explained the difference between Vedas and the Upanishads.  We hope it was useful for you and you liked it. So, wish you all the best with your spiritual journey.