This particular verse is found in chapter 1 verse 4 which says:

Of these two, the lower knowledge is the Rig-Veda, the Yagur-Veda, the Sama-Veda, the Atharva-Veda, siksha (phonetics), kalpa (rituals), vyakaranam (grammar), nirukta (etymology), chhandas (metre) and jyotis (astronomy); and the Higher Knowledge is that by which the Imperishable Brahman is attained

So why does the Upanishad put down the Vedas which it is part of?

  • All Hindu scriptures declare that Brahma Gyana (knowledge of the self) is the highest so obviously all other knowledge will be regarded as inferior in comparison.
    – Rickross
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 12:36
  • @Rickross so what about all the rituals prescribed in the Vedas are they useless or are they qualities that are needed before approaching the study of the Upanishads? And where do the Vedas say that self knowledge is the highest (I want only verses from the Vedas, more specifically only the Samhtias or Brahmanas and Aryanakas).
    – Rajam
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 12:49
  • Vedic rituals have great purpose .. In one Upanishad it is stated that every being, from the blade of grass to Brahma, waits for rituals to be performed. rituals are needed for proper functioning of the creation so they are certainly not useless. It is also nowhere stated that studying Upanishads is the highest knowledge. Upanishad itself declares that Brahma Gyana or highest knowledge can not be achieved by study of scriptures (Upanishad included). Also I think it is difficult to quote only from Vedas to prove a point.
    – Rickross
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 13:00
  • @Rickross then why are the rituals put down if they are so important (within the Upanishads)? Ok I do understand the difficulty of quoting only from the Vedas so can you quote from any of the Puranas or Itihasa?
    – Rajam
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 13:03
  • In scriptures, sometimes to glorify an aspect they show other things as inferior .. it's quite common .. but in truth all the aspects mentioned in Scriptures have their importance. For example, to glorify Nirakara Dhyana (formless meditation) they will say that Murti Puja (idol worship) is inferior but everything have their own utility. We need to understand in this manner.
    – Rickross
    Commented Jun 17, 2023 at 13:07

1 Answer 1


Hindu scriptures rate anubhuti or direct experience of the Self higher than the knowledge of any scripture. I have given below what Garuda Purana says.

They study the Vedas and discuss. But they do not realize the Ultimate Reality just as a spoon does not know the taste of food.

The head carries the flowers, the nose knows the scent. The people study the Vedas. But, very few persons understand the same.

Not knowing the Reality of the self, a fool is infatuated by the sastras. When the goat stands in the shed, the shepherd seeks for it in the well in vain.

The knowledge of the sastras is not competent to destroy the infatuation accruing from worldly affairs.


Scriptures are many, age is short. Obstacles come in battalion.

One should pick up truth from falsehood as a goose picks up milk from water.

Having studied the Vedas and realized their essence the wise man should leave all the sastras just as one desiring corn leaves the husk.

Just as one satiated with nectar has no use of food, no one who is in search of Reality has anything to do with the sastras.

One cannot obtain release by reading the Vedas or the sastras. Release comes from experience, not otherwise, O son of Vinata.

[Garuda Purana, Dharma Khanda, Chapter XLIX]

What is the purpose of the Vedic rituals?

The Karmakanda (the ritualistic section of the Veda) is sweet with promises of enjoyments as fruits of ritualistic works. They do not enlighten man on his ultimate good. They are only a means to stimulate man engrossed in sensuality to higher goals. Just as children are prompted to take medicines by promise of sweets, the promises of ritualism are meant to stimulate men stagnating in abject inertia to the first step towards the highest good.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana XI.21.23

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