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hindufaqs.com - What is A differences between Veda and Upanishads

Upanishads and Vedas are two terms that are often confused as one and the same thing. Actually they are two different subjects for that matter. In fact Upanishads are parts of Vedas.

Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva are the four Vedas. A Veda is divided into four parts, namely, Samhita, Brahmana, Aranyaka and Upanishad. It can be seen from the division that Upanishad forms the last part of a given Veda. Since Upanishad forms the end part of a Veda it is also called as Vedanta. The word ‘anta’ in Sanskrit means ‘end’. Hence the word ‘Vedanta’ means ‘the end portion of a Veda’.

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The subject matter or the content of the Upanishad is normally philosophical in nature. It speaks about the nature of the Atman, the greatness of the Brahman or the Supreme Soul and also about the life after death. Hence Upanishad is called as the Jnana Kanda of the Veda. Jnana means knowledge. Upanishad speaks about the supreme or the highest knowledge.

The other three parts of the Veda, namely, Samhita, Brahmana and the Aranyaka are called together as Karma Kanda. Karma in Sanskrit means ‘action’ or ‘rituals’. It can be understood that the three parts of the Veda deal with the ritualistic part of life such as the conduct of a sacrifice, austerity and the like.
Veda thus contains in it both the ritualistic and the philosophical aspects of life. It deals with the actions to be performed in life and also with the spiritual thoughts that man should cultivate in his mind to read God.

Upanishads are many in number but only 12 of them are considered principal Upanishads. It is interesting to note that Adi Sankara, the founder of Advaita system of philosophy has commented on all the 12 principal Upanishads. The other major teachers of various sects of philosophical thoughts have quoted a lot from the texts of the Upanishads.

1. No one can push a boulder away while standing on it; you cannot be free from anxiety while all the entrances through which it sneaks in are open.
— Atharvana Veda


2. Delusion arises from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls down when reasoning is destroyed.
— Bhagvat Gita


3. (Lead Us) From the Unreal To the Real,
From Darkness To Light,
From Death To Immortality,
Peace Peace Peace.
– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad


4. Thus occupied by many egoistic ideas, deluded, addicted to the gratification of desire (doing works, but doing them wrongly, acting mightily, but for themselves, for desire, for enjoyment, not for God in themselves and God in man), they fall into the unclean hell of their own evil.

— Bhagvat Gita


5. “Who really knows?
Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation?
The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?”
— Rig Veda


Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma phaleshou kada chana,
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani


6. Let the fruit not be the purpose of your actions, and therefore you won’t be attached to not doing your duty. You have the right to perform your actions, but you are not entitled to the fruits of the actions.
— Bhagvat Gita


7. There is no happiness for him who does not travel, Rohita!
Thus we have heard. Living in the society of men, the best man becomes a sinner… therefore, wander!… The fortune of him who is sitting, sits; it rises when he rises; it sleeps when he sleeps; it moves when he moves. Therefore, wander!”
— Rig Veda


8. (There is) just one divinity, manifestly hidden everywhere
Pervading everything, the soul of every living creature.
The one that directs the actions of all and lives across all times.
Witness to everything, pure and perfect, devoid of all (worldly) qualities and attributes.
— Shvetashwataro Upanishad (credit: Som Bhatta)


9. The stalks of water-flowers are proportionate to the depth of water; so is humans greatness proportionate to their minds (Knowledge).
— Tirukural


10. “Do not be led by others, awaken your own mind, amass your own experience, and decide for yourself your own path.”
–The Atharva Veda

Utlimately, Hinduism is about happiness. If you can find eternal happiness doing something, you are on the right path.