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UPANISHADS

INTRODUCTION

The philosophical portion of the Vedas is called the Upanishads. The Upanishads are found mostly in the concluding part of the Vedas and are also called Vedānta (added at the end of the Vedas). They are found appended to all the four Vedas, and thus we have Upanishads belonging to all four Vedas: Rig, Yajur, Sāma and Atharva. Each Vedas reveals its contents under four sections: (1) The Samhitās, containing beautiful lyrical poems or mantras describing and adoring the beauty of nature and the power of the extraordinary forces. (2) The Brahmana section containing the ritualistic injunctions and prescriptions for various ceremonies. (3) The Aranyakas, containing various methods of meditation or Upāsanās and (4) The Upanishads, containing the philosophical discussions and sermons that had taken place at various periods of time between different teachers (Rishis) and their students, regarding Brahman, Eternal Purpose of creation and the goal of human life. While the hymns of the Vedas emphasize rituals and the Brahmanas serve as a manual for those Vedic rituals. The Upanishads are inherently opposed to rituals.

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