In some places it is mentioned that some of the main upanishad like chandogya and brihadaranyaka mention about the puranas.

What are the references where puranas are referred in upanishad?

If indeed the puranas are talked in the upanishads then how come they be the part of vedas ?

Because vedas are considered as pre puranic era.

Update: I also heard that chAndogya also mentions Krishna i.e son of Devaki. If so then is it is not later to Mahabharata era ?

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    Brahmanas, aranyaka, upanishads, itihasas and puranas are considered commentary or works of vyasa on the samhitas, so they were compiled together, the aitriya brahmana of Vedas mention the parikshita janamejaya the grandson of Arjuna which means they are later, in previous Yuga there were only samhitas. Apr 13 '18 at 6:40
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    Even in Atharva-Veda the word puranas is there but the meaning of that is "What is old" and not actually the text puranas as we know them today. Apr 13 '18 at 7:42
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    @SwiftPushkar then why the puranas text today called as pancham veda Apr 13 '18 at 11:34
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    @RakeshJoshi -I think they are called Vedas because of the knowledge they contain i.e. in the sense of knowledge. But they are not considered as words of god. etc. So the word veda is used in little different sense .like ved of the masses. This is my guess though and also might not be correct. Apr 13 '18 at 11:56
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    "Vedas mention Vishvamitra as seer of Gayatri mantra. How can vedas be apaurusheya if they mention a purusha's name. That means Vedas must have come AFTER vishvamitra was born. That means Vedas are not eternal, so we need not heed them"
    – mar
    Aug 15 '18 at 2:08

There are some minor Upanishads as well which mention Puranas. All these Upanishads are counted among the 108 Upanishads as given in Muktika's list.

From the Paingala Upanishad's Adhyaya 4:

Whoever recites this Upanishad becomes as immaculate as Agni. He becomes as pure as Brahma. He becomes as pure as Vayu. He becomes like one who has bathed in all the holy waters. He becomes like one who has studied all the Vedas. He becomes like one that has undergone all vedic observances. He obtains the fruit of the recitation of Itihasas, Puranas and Rudramantras a lakh of times. He becomes like one that has pronounced Pranava (Om) ten thousand times, purifies his ancestors ten degrees removed and his descendants ten degrees removed. He becomes purified of all those that sit with him for dinner. He becomes a great personage. He becomes purified from the sins of the murder of a Brahman, the drinking of alcohol, theft of gold, and sexual cohabitation with Guru's wife, and from the sins of associating with those that commit such sins.

Now, from Tejobindu Upanishad's 5th Chapter:

The Vedas, Sciences, Puranas, effect and cause, Is vara and the world and the elements and mankind all these are unreal. There is no doubt of it. Bondage, salvation, happiness, relatives, meditation, chitta, the Devas, the demons, the secondary and the primary, the high and the low all these are unreal. There is no doubt of it. Whatever is uttered by the mouth, whatever is willed by sankalpa, whatever is thought by manas all these are unreal. Whatever is determined by the buddhi, whatever is cognized by chitta, whatever is discussed by the religious books, whatever is seen by the eye and heard by the ears, and whatever exists as Sat, as also the ear, the eye, and the limbs all these are unreal.

From the same Upanishad:

.. lightened and the non-enlightened, duality and non-duality, the conclusion of all Vedantas and Sastras, the theory of the existence of all souls and that of one soul only, whatever is thought by chitta, whatever is willed by sankalpa, whatever is determined by buddhi, whatever one hears and sees, whatever the guru instructs, whatever is sensed by all the organs, whatever is discussed in mimamsa. whatever is ascertained by nyaya (philosophy) and by the great ones who have reached the other side of the Vedas, the saying Siva destroys the world, Vishnu protects it, and Brahma creates it , whatever is found in the puranas, whatever is ascertained by the Vedas, and is the signification of all the Vedas all these resemble the horns of a hare. The conception I am the body is spoken of as the internal organ; the conception I am the body is spoken of as the great mundane existence ; the conception ( I am the body constitutes the whole universe.

And, from the Vajrasuchi Upanishad's last Chapter:

Such is the opinion of the vedas, the smrtis, the itihasa and the puranas. Otherwise one cannot obtain the status of a brahmana. One should meditate on his Atma as Sachchidanada, and the non-dual Brahman. Yea, one should meditate on his Atma as the Sachchidananda Brahman. Such is the Upanishad

I think this only goes to show that the era of the Upanishads is much later than that of the Vedas.


Chhāndogya Upanishad verses 7.1.2 and 7.1.4 mention the Itihasa and Puranas as the 5th Veda:

  1. Nârada said: 'I know the Rig-veda, Sir, the Yagur-veda, the Sâma-veda, as the fourth the Âtharvana, as the fifth the Itihâsa-purâna

But the words itihasa and purana just mean "history", and so whenever this Upanishad was spoken, it was just referring to the history before that time.

However, certain characters appear in both the Vedas and Smriti, such as Krishna, son of Devaki mentioned in the Chhandogya Upanishad verse 3.17.6 and the Mahabharata.

The reason certain characters appear in both the Smriti and Shruti is because certain major events repeat in each cycle of creation. This is what the Brahma Sutras say in verses 1.3.27, 28, and 29.

Here is the commentary for 1.3.27:

"Indra and so on, again and again originate from the Vedic words. To explain. Vedic words, such as Indra and so on, do not, like the word Devadatta and the like, denote, on the basis of convention, one particular individual only: they rather denote by their own power particular species of beings, just as the word 'cow' denotes a particular species of animals. When therefore a special individual of the class called Indra has perished, the creator, apprehending from the Vedic word 'Indra' which is present to his mind the class characteristics of the beings denoted by that word, creates another Indra possessing those very same characteristics; just as the potter fashions a new jar, on the basis of the word 'jar' which is stirring in his mind."

Here is Ramanujacharya's commentary for verse 1.3.28:

"As words such as Indra and Vasishtha, which denote gods and Rishis, denote (not individuals only, but) classes, and as the creation of those beings is preceded by their being suggested to the creative mind through those words; for this reason the eternity of the Veda admits of being reconciled with what scripture says about the mantras and kândas (sections) of the sacred text having 'makers' and about Rishis seeing the hymns. Such passages as 'He chooses the makers of mantras'; 'Reverence to the Rishis who are the makers of mantras'; 'That is Agni; this is a hymn of Visvâmitra.' For by means of these very texts Pragâpati presents to his own mind the characteristics and powers of the different Rishis who make the different sections, hymns, and mantras, thereupon creates them endowed with those characteristics and powers, and appoints them to remember the very same sections, hymns, &c. The Rishis being thus gifted by Pragâpati with the requisite powers, undergo suitable preparatory austerities and finally see the mantras, and so on, proclaimed by the Vasishthas and other Rishis of former ages of the world, perfect in all their sounds and accents, without having learned them from the recitation of a teacher. There is thus no conflict between the eternity of the Veda and the fact that the Rishis are the makers of its sections, hymns, and so on."

And the commentary for verse 1.3.29:

"Having thereupon manifested the Vedas in exactly the same order and arrangement they had had before, and having taught them to Hiranyagarbha, he entrusts to him the new creation of the different classes of beings, gods, and so on, just as it was before; and at the same time abides himself within the world so created as its inner Self and Ruler."

What this means is that the creation of the universe is based on the words found inside the Veda, that Brahman recollects the words of the Veda and creates classes of beings based on those words, and that events found in the Vedas repeat every cycle.

  • I'm pretty sure it's referring to ramayana and Mahabharata as Mahabharata characters are mentioned throughout upanishads and brahmanams. Apr 13 '18 at 9:32
  • yes, it is not referencing what people in the present era refer to as the puranas. Apr 13 '18 at 10:19
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    @SwamiVishwananda parikshita learned the bhagvata purana acc to tradition, his son in mentioned in aitriya brahmana. So most likely it is referring to puranas what we call puranas. Apr 13 '18 at 11:45
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    @Anubhav Jha It's the other way around; characters in the Veda are found in Itihasa and Purana
    – Ikshvaku
    Apr 13 '18 at 11:50

Upanishads are believed by scholars to be before the Puranas although Upanishads mention Puranas.

"As from a fire kindled with wet fuel various [kinds of] smoke issue forth, even so, my dear, the Rig Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama Veda, the Atharvangirasa, itihasa, purana, vidya (arts), Upanishads, slokas, sutras, anuvyakhyanas (elucidations), vyakhyanas (explanations), sacrfices, oblations in the fire, food, drink, this world, and all beings are all like the breath of the Infinite Reality. From this Supreme Self are all these, indeed, breathed forth."

(Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.V.11)

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