Vidya (knowledge) from the SANSKRIT root “to know” is an important philosophical term in Hindu tradition. Initially it connoted the knowledge of the Vedic MANTRAS and ritual, and it bestowed great power. When the UPANISHADS concluded that Vedic rituals alone could not help break the cycle of birth and rebirth, Vedic knowledge began to be called the “lower knowledge” (apara vidya) while the Upanishadic knowledge was called the higher or liberating knowledge (para vidya). Buddhism also used the term to refer to knowledge of the path that breaks the cycle of birth and rebirth.
   Further reading: Thomas Hopkins, The Hindu Religious Tradition (Encino, Calif.: Dickenson, 1971); Klaus K. Klostermaier, A Survey of Hinduism (Albany: State Uni-versity of New York Press, 1994).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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