27 28 The Upanishads (literally, to “sit down near someone”) are also known as the Vedanta, or the end of the Vedas, marking the conclusion of the Vedic literature. It is fittingly so because the Upanishads mark the high point of a line of evolution of thought from the time of the Rig-Veda through the Brahmanas and Aranyakas, from a pantheistic faith centered on nature gods to an all-encompassing cosmic reality with the agnostic notion of identification of the individual soul with its cosmic counterpart. Unlike some who argue that they mark a departure from the Brahmanas, others see in the Upanishadic collection of texts a commendable exercise in the interpretation of the cosmogonic data contained in the largely ritualistic Brahmanas by speculating on the connection between the divine and human worlds. Most agree that the Upanishads represent the quintessence of Vedic knowledge. (pages 38–39)