Almost all Acharyas divide the Vedas into two parts: Karma Kand (as explained by the Purva Mimamsa sutras) and the Jnana Kand (Uttara Mimamsa sutras, aka Brahma Sutras). The Samhitas and Brahmanas texts form Karma Kand, and Upanishads and Aranyakas form the Jnana Kand. The Karma Kand deals with rituals and worship of Devas, and Jnana Kand deals with Brahman and Moksha.

But since Moksha is more important than rituals and temporary material fruits, why are the Vedas overwhelmingly focused on the Karma Kand portion? The Samhitas and Brahmanas section make up the bulk of the Vedas, and not the Aranyakas or Upanishads.

Is this because most traditions and lineages have retained the Karma Kand portion more rigorously than the Jnana Kand? There are only 13 or so major Upanishads that have been preserved well, and the rest of the 108 haven't. So, if the full 108 Upanishads were properly retained, would they be equal to or be larger than the Karma Kand portion?

More of the Jnana related texts are found in the Smritis: Bhagavad Gita, Vishnu Purana, and Bhagavata Purana.

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    Each of the four Vedas has many different Shakhas or recensions. Each Shakha has one Samhita, one Brahmana, one Aranyaka, and one Upanishad. Most Shakhas are lost, we only have two surviving Shakhas of the Rig Veda, for instance. Only a few of the Upanishads are from Shakhas which we still have, like Isha, Brihadaranyaka, Taittiriya, Chandogya, Katha, and Kena. Most other Upanishads are either from lost Shakhas, or from unknown Shakhas, or in some cases are not authentic Upanishads at all. Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 23:29
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    Now if we had more Shakhas, we might have more Upanishads that we don't currently have, but it wouldn't alter the relative lengths of the Karma Kanda and the Jnana Kanda. Now as to why the Jnana Kanda is shorter than the Karma Kanda, I would make two points. First of all, the Vedas are Apaurusheya or authorless, and in some sense it's meaningless to ask why an authorless text is the way it is. (If it had an author then the answer would lie in what the author intended, although I discuss here how Mimamsakas understood intention in authorless texts: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/16772/36) Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 23:51
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    In any case, the relative lengths of the Karma Kanda and the Jnana Kanda might be related to the nature of the fruits obtained through these two parts of the Vedas. There are three kinds of happiness: Aihikam or happiness in this world, Amushmikam or happiness in Swarga, and Nihshreyasam or happiness in Moksha. Aihikam is temporary and mixed with sorrow, Amushmikam is unmixed with sorrow but still temporary, and Nihsreyasam is both unmixed with sorrow and eternal. Following the Karma Kanda is what yields Aihikam and Amushmikam, and following the Jnana Kanda is what yields Nihshreyasam. Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 0:33
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    Now Aihikam comes in many forms: obtaining a son, acquiring wealth, becoming king, getting magical powers, etc. Similarly Amushmikam comes in many forms like going to Swarga, freedom of movement in Swarga, and rulership of Swarga. So there are many different Yagnas to give these different kinds of fruits. But Nihsreyasam comes in only one form, namely Moksha, and you only need to do one thing to get it: know Brahman. Brahma Sutras Adhyaya 3 Pada 3 makes clear that the Brahmavidyas in different Upanishads are interchangeable/combinable in meditation. So Jnana Kanda doesn't need to be as long. Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 1:37
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    "How come those Upanishads are not authoritative?" What Upanishads? All genuine Upanishads are authoritative. Of course, you could have a text that is just written by later people which is wrongly claimed to be an Upanishad. "And doesn't Apaurasheya mean "not of human origin," meaning, it's still authored by God?" No, at least the Purva Mimamsa school and the Vedanta school say that the Vedas are absolutely authorless, i.e. not even authored by Brahman. It's only the Nyaya and Vaisheshika schools (and some Shaivite and Shweta sects) that say that God is the author of the Vedas. Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 1:44


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