Why Vedas are called inferior in Upanishads?


The Vedas are divisible into two parts which are Purva Mimamsa or Karma Mimamsa dealing with rituals for Dharma, Artha, Kama and Gyana Kanda or Uttara Mimamsa/Upanishads for Moksha. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha together are Purusartha or purpose of society and its beings. Upanishads have called Purva Mimamsa as inferior when compared to Gyana Kanda Vedanta.

Mundaka Upanishad Chapter 1

  1. Saunaka, a great grihasta, having duly approached Angiras, questioned him “What is that, O Bhagavan which being known, all this becomes known.” (3)
  2. To him he said “There are two sorts of knowledge to he acquired. So those who know the Brahman say; namely, Para and Apara, i.e., the higher and the lower.
  3. Of these, the Apara is the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda, and the Atharva Veda, the siksha, the code of rituals, grammar, nirukta, chhandas and astrology. Then the para is that by which the immortal is known.
  4. That which cannot be perceived, which cannot be seized, which has no origin, which has no properties, which has neither ear nor eye, which lias neither hands nor feet, which is eternal, diversely manifested, all-pervading, extremely subtle, and undecaying, which the intelligent cognized as the source of the Bhutas. (6)
  5. As the spider creates and absorbs, as medicinal plants grow from the earth, as hairs grow from the living person, so this universe proceeds from the immortal.
  6. By tapas Brahman increases in size and from it food is produced; from food the prana, the mind, the Bhûtas the worlds, karma and with it, its fruits.
  7. From the Brahman who knows all and everything of all and whose tapas is in the nature of knowledge, this Brahma, name, form and food are produced.

Importance of Brahmgyan over memorizing Vedic Karma kanda alone, was also explained by sage Yagyavalkya to Gargi and sage Uddalak to his son Shvetaketu.

Brihadarayanka Upanishad 3.8.9. He, O Gārgī, who in this world, without knowing this Immutable, offers oblations in the fire, performs sacrifices and undergoes austerities even for many thousand years, finds all such acts but perishable; he, O Gārgī, who departs from this world without knowing this Immutable, is miserable. But he, O Gārgī, who departs from this world after knowing this Immutable, is a knower of Brahman.

Chandogya Upanishad Chapter 6

1.1. Āruṇi had a son named Śvetaketu. Once Āruṇi told him: ‘Śvetaketu, you should now live as a brahmacārin. No one in our family has not studied the scriptures and has not been a good brāhmin’.

1.2. Śvetaketu went to his teacher’s house at the age of twelve. After studying all the Vedas, he returned home when he was twenty-four, having become very serious and vain, and thinking himself to be a great scholar. [Noticing this,] his father said to him: ‘O Śvetaketu, you have now become very serious and vain, and you think you are a great scholar. But did you ask your teacher for that teaching [about Brahman]—

1.3.‘—that teaching by which what is never heard becomes heard, what is never thought of becomes thought of, what is never known becomes known?’ [Śvetaketu asked,] ‘Sir, what is that teaching?’.

1.5. O Somya, it is like this: By knowing a single lump of gold you know all objects made of gold. All changes are mere words, in name only. But gold is the reality.

1.7. [Śvetaketu said:] ‘Surely my revered teachers did not know this truth. If they knew it, why should they not have told me? So please explain it to me, sir.’ His father said, ‘Let it be so, my son’.

2.1. Somya, before this world was manifest there was only existence, one without a second. On this subject, some maintain that before this world was manifest there was only non-existence, one without a second. Out of that non-existence, existence emerged.

2.2. The father said: ‘O Somya, what proof is there for this—that from nothing something has emerged? Rather, before this world came into being, O Somya, there was only existence, one without a second’.

2.3. That Existence decided: ‘I shall be many. I shall be born.’ He then created fire. That fire also decided: ‘I shall be many. I shall be born.’ Then fire produced water. That is why whenever or wherever a person mourns or perspires, he produces water.

3.2. That god [Existence] decided: ‘Entering into these three deities [fire, water, and earth], as the individual self, I shall manifest myself in many names and forms’.

3.3. Sat [Existence] thought, ‘I shall divide each of these three deities threefold.’ Then, having entered into these three deities as the individual self, he manifested himself as names and forms.

Thats why, after Buddhism spread in India during reign of Ashoka, many leftout Hindus attached themselves to Purva Mimamsa for Dharma,Artha and Kama naturally, and Adi Shankaracharya, champion of Uttara Mimamsa defeated Buddhists and followers of Karma Mimamsa like Mandana Mishra in scriptural debates and made them enter into Sanyass or Bhakti Hinduism of Puranas.

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