As per the documentation from the PEOPLE’S UNIVERSITY, IGNOU, Vedas also called as “The source of knowledge“, is also referred to as the
- Sruti (that which is heard)
- Apauruseya (that which is not authored by a human), and
- Shastra (that which serves as a guide through its teaching). The words ‘Agama’ and ‘Amnaya’ are synonyms of the Veda.
The content(s) of Vedas that has come down to humanity for centuries is said to have been heard by the sages in deep meditation and these sages are therefore known as ‘mantradrastas’ or the ‘seer of the mantras’. They transmitted this received knowledge orally to the subsequent generation(s) and that is how Vedas was and are still preserved partially, as we lost many of them during the transmission phase from one cycle to another cycle. Moreover, the orally transmitted vedic mantras were made available in writing too and the oldest available written literature is considered to be the Rig Veda.
The word ‘Veda’ generally refers to ‘Mantra’s’ and ‘Brahmana’s’. Mantras are hymns in praise of gods who are invoked in a ritual and Brahmanas are those portions which give various instructions on the performance of rituals. An anthology of mantras is known as ‘Samhita’s’ and the Brahmana portions are an elaboration and are treated as the commentary to the Samhita portions. The Brahmana portions are further divided into three, the Brahmana’s, the Aranyaka’s and the Upanisad’s.
- The Brahmana portions primarily teach the nature of ritual (yaga) and thus the word Brahmana also means ‘yajna’ (ritual).
- The Aranyakas are so named because it deals with meditation which are generally taken up while living in forest and hence the name aranya (in sanskrit).
- The Upanisads reveal the Absolute Truth, which provides the means to liberation and is popularly known as the ‘Vedanta’.
Primarily the source with the four portions, namely, Samhita, Brahmana, Aranyaka and the Upanisad is known as the Veda. According to the few scholar’s: –
- Age of the Rig Veda Samhita is somewhere between 2500 to 1500 B.C
- Age of the Later Samhitas, Brahmanas and Upanisads are somwhere between 1500 to 500 B.C
Veda is one source with three forms and this is often referred to as ‘Veda Trayi’ or Three Vedas. The Rig, the Yajur and the Sama – are the three Vedas. In such references, the meaning of the Veda refers to the ‘creation’ and the three Vedas means the threefold creation of Agni or Fire (Rig), Vayu or Air (Yajur) and Aditya or Sun (Sama). The ‘Atharva’ refers to the ‘soma’ or the essence without which the above three cannot survive. The popular view is that the Sage Maharishi Vyasa segregated the Vedic hymns, that is, the mantra-samhitas into four, viz., Rig Samhita, Yajur-Samhita, Sama-Samhita and Atharva-Samhita and thus we say there are four Vedas.
For a Vedic ritual to take place, it requires four Rtviks (roughly translated as Priests). They are:
1] Hota/Hotri – one who invokes the deity of a particular ritual by employing the invocatory hymns as found in the Rig-Samhita’s and the collections of such hymns is referred to as Rig Veda. This is said to have been taught by Vyasa to Paila.
2] Adhvaryu – The adhvaryu was in charge of the physical details of the sacrifice (in particular the adhvara, a term for the Somayajna). According to Monier-Williams, the adhvaryu “had to measure the ground, to build the altar, to prepare the sacrificial vessels, to fetch wood and water, to light the fire, to bring the animal and immolate it,” among other duties. The activities where carried out based on the Yajur-Samhitha’s, now called as Yajur Veda. Over time, the role of the adhvaryu grew in importance, and many verses of the rigveda were incorporated, either intact or adapted, into the texts of the yajurveda. The details where taught by Vyasa to Vaishampayana
3] Udgatha – one who sings in high intonation and maintains the rhythm of chanting as given in Samaveda and this is taught by Vyasa to Jaimini. They are the chanter of hymns, which are set to melodies (sāman) drawn from the samaveda. This is a specialized role in the major soma sacrifices: a characteristic function of the udgathi was to sing hymns in praise of the invigorating properties of soma pavamāna, the freshly pressed juice of the soma plant.
4] Brahman – one who takes care of the entire proceedings of the ritual and suggests compensatory acts in case of omissions and commissions and this was taught to Sumantu by Vyasa. They where the reciter of hymns from the atharvaveda who was largely silent and observes the procedures and uses Atharvaveda mantras to ‘heal’ it when mistakes have been made.
So, what are the difference between Vedas and Upanishad in general, let’s make a list of it; i.e Key Differences
As per few scholar's Vedas were composed somewhere between 1200 to 400 B.C.E The Upanishads were written over a time, ranging from 700 to 400 B.C.E
Vedas means knowledge in Sanskrit. It is known as “Apauruseya" and is focused mainly on ritualistic details Upanishad is derived from the words upa (near) and shad (to sit). Which is primarily used for Spiritual Enlightenment.
Vedas are categorized primarily into 3, but as in general we have 4 which are: - "Rig Veda", "Yajur Veda", "Atharva Veda" and "Sama Veda" More than 200 Upanishad has been identified and each Upanishad is associated with a certain Veda.
Vedas are subclassified into 4 major text: - Samhitas, Aranyakas, Brahmanas & Upanishad itself. Upanishads is one among the 4 major text types of Vedas.
The Vedas are primarily concerned with rituals, Sacrifies, Mantra's, Ceremonies and applications. The Upanishads are primarily concerned with spiritual enlightenment.