Experience or Knowledge — What Do You Want?

Devil’s Advocate
4 min readAug 29, 2021


If this question: “Experience or Knowledge — What Do You Want?” is posed to most business people, they would prefer experience with knowledge. But this problem is not limited to the business domain alone.

Somebody was asking if one should prefer a Spiritual Guru who is well versed in the Shastras & Vedas or a “Modern Guru” who is not good at scriptures but has a lot of followers.

Ideally, one may claim to want a Guru who is well versed in all the scriptures and has a lot of followers :) But such a thing is a rarity across millennia.

Just to give a sense of what it takes, someone really sharp could take about 12 to 15 years to become very proficient in Shastras & Vedas, if they dedicate time fully for that. So, starting on that path at the age of say 6, they should be really a master by their 20th year.

I want to reiterate that this is for someone who is really sharp intellectually. Otherwise, the time taken could easily be twice that. For now, let us take the ideal case of someone who is super sharp & has intellectually grasped all the Shastras & Vedas by the time they are 20.

Would you accept that person as your Guru? Not really. Most people will first think that the person is too young to be taken as a Guru and will ignore them till they are perhaps 30 or 35. So, 10 to 15 years is gone just like that before he/she gets accepted by most people.

Let’s look at the next obstacle on that path. How will you articulate the knowledge to people who are steeped in the current way of education, which tends to naturally move a person away from spirituality? This is a rather big hurdle.

If you try to show your knowledge of the scriptures, most such people will either say that you are just showing your intellectual arrogance or say that all this textbook knowledge is also available online these days. Why should they take you as a Guru? Fair point!

This is not to offend anyone, but I have seen such arguments made by people, especially communists, who think all the shastras are mumbo-jumbo.

What else can one do? Perhaps they show off their Siddhis, if any, acquired through learning the scriptures, to show their authority.

But most people, even very traditionally shastra-oriented people, will refrain from showing off their Siddhis, if any, because such acts have their own karmic gathering. So it appears that route is also not possible to influence common people in the society.

The next method is to reach common people through your discourses. You can make them available on YouTube for free also. But the common man will be interested in your discourses only either out of sheer intellectual interest or if it solves some of their life’s problems.

So far, I have not seen many people who have been able to connect the common man’s daily life issues to the knowledge from Shastras & Vedas. I am not saying it is not possible. I just have not seen many do it too successfully & generate interest in a lot of people to follow them.

The other way is to be able to bestow profound spiritual experiences en masse, which is what a Sadhguru or Sri Sri or any of the so-called “Modern Gurus”, are able to successfully do and without talking about scriptures most of the time.

Because a personal experience tends to last for much longer than a momentary intellectual high, people go behind such experiences rather than knowledge. That is where the “Modern Gurus” can easily affect a whole lot of humanity rather than one with mere scriptural knowledge.

This is not to say that the Indian scriptures have no place in our modern society. It would be fool-hardy to assume so since most of the Shastras & Vedas deal with science and metaphysics in a very deep way. But common people could care less.

Adi Shankara was among the most brilliant minds of all time and he took a lot of effort going around Bharat many times debating & defeating people, many times with knowledge of the nuances of our scriptures. But even he had to resort to experience-based knowledge at times.

Right now, the path seems to be heavily skewed towards experience-based Gurus who may not have the scriptural knowledge over the Shastra-based Gurus who are unable to give such deep experiences to people en masse.

I feel this trend will remain so for some more time to come.

#Spirituality #Knowledge #Scriptures #Life #CommonMan



Devil’s Advocate

Seeker for life. Looking to make technology simpler for everyone.