Losing our wisdom in a sea of information

We are overwhelmed with information on Hinduism

Today I read a quote from “Choruses from the Rock” by T. S. Elliot. “. The quote was from the “New Scientist” magazine, accompanying an article about the overwhelming amount of data at our fingertips. This made me think about all the information available on the web about Hinduism. Is the knowledge getting lost in this information? I will answer this with an illustration.

Imagine someone who was very interested in farms and farming, but had never done so. He might spend ages reading up on all the crops, be able to identify each one, and could just look at a tractor and tell you the engine size, make, power and year of manufacture. This person has a lot of information about farming, but little real knowledge. He would be unlikely to produce a good harvest if he was put in charge of a farm without help.

Someone else might have been brought up on a farm, know when to plant the seeds, when to harvest and how to plough, reap, and sow. He has real knowledge, and can actually run a farm, even though he may not be able to tell you as much about different makes of tractor as the first guy.

A third man also has the knowledge of how to farm, but knows which crops to choose for the land. He knows not to spoil the soil by intensive production and use of chemicals. When heavy rain comes during the harvest he knows which crops to reap first, which will wait and which will already have been ruined. He has real wisdom about farming.

The vast amount of information on Hinduism available on the internet is a real boon when we first want to learn. At some point we must stop learning and start practicing. Without this we will have no real knowledge, just empty facts.

Having practiced Hinduism we will have knowledge, not just information. And how does this knowledge turn to wisdom? I’ll tell you that when I know myself. Perhaps spiritual knowledge just frees the wisdom that is already inside us. I have a feeling that I have a long way to go before I can give a complete answer to this question.

Aum Shivaya

Image of word cloud created from this blog by me using wordle, an online site that can produce many styles of word clouds.

17 responses to “Losing our wisdom in a sea of information

  1. Ah, so true. I find this has become a problem for me. I guess I just don’t know where or how to begin practicing! That can be frustrating for me at times.


  2. This is an incredibly timely post. You have such a knack for putting things into simple, clear terms!

    When I started this journey, I thought that I might never exhaust the internet’s resources. Now, though? I am finding that the vast amount of information is overwhelming and that I have the need to start thinking about what all of it means to me, personally. I’m starting to do more practice and less research, but it’s such a scary thing to let go of that research and head out on my own. I have a feeling that I’ll go back and forth until I’m comfortable (if not at the third farmer’s level of intuitive wisdom).

    It’s very comforting read your comparison, though. Whew.

    Namaste (and thank you!)

    • Namaste,
      I am glad that this post is useful to you. I think that one of the dangers is that you can never exhaust all the internet resources. I have certainly spent more time collecting information than understanding or using it.

  3. Ask aamba(whitehindu) to read ur post she appears confused (alot)

  4. Thanks for letting me know, Tandava!

    I just like to ponder a lot. I wouldn’t say that I’m confused.

    I have a lot of knowledge and I’m always trying to work at how to apply that knowledge to life, just as we all do.

    As I always say, that’s just part of the journey!

    I never want to assume that I know something and then stop thinking about it and stop revising my thoughts and opinions, I don’t sit back and rest on one achievement or one thought, I’m always rethinking and reworking my life to try to get the most out of it.

  5. Though there’s a high likelihood I’m just missing it, I haven’t come across much information about actually practicing the religion of Hinduism. Hindu.net has their “2-minute puja” and there are a few videos demonstrating a generic arati. Now, if one wanted to practice Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Bhaktivedanta Swami’s entire book about daily practice is available online.

    The issue comes down to the question: what does it mean to practice Hinduism? Is it a lot of rituals and mantras? Is it meditation and japam? Or is it a way of seeing the world, a way of treating people and creatures? Is it all these things? If so, in what amounts? There are more specific questions as well, answerable dependent upon one’s religious inclinations. Are you more of a bhakta or an aspiring jnani? Do you have Vaishnava leanings or are you a born Shakta?

    I agree that there is almost too much information about theory, history, and what one might call generic Hindu concepts (samsara, karma, Brahman, the guru-shishya relationship). But I have found precious little specific and usable information online.

    • This is an excellent point. I might write more about this later. The Himalayan Academy has details of a fairly elaborate Ganesha Puja and mentions that the simplest puja is just to offer flowers, petals or rice saying “Aum” as each is given to the deity.

    • Hi, Hinduism practices can becomes so confusing for someone who is keen on learning and applying. most of us born as Hindu grow up with family rituals and pray in that way till we find our unique way of praying. In Hinduism there are 3-4 different internal sects like shiva monoism worship, Vishnu–> Bakti worship, shakti worship and one or two more.also they get interconnected like u can meditate upon Krishna as one God and still be bAKHT(KRISHNA devotee), similarly with n number of other Gods.

      Then to add to this we have Aarti for each God, we have specific Bhajans, songs and hymns for so many deities. We have Japas and meditation also as ways to connect.
      This all leads to confusion for not just converts/reverts but also for born Hindus. but this also provides them opportunity to find their best and unique way to connect to God.
      For a person who doesn’t understand whether he is suited for Janana Yoga or Bakti yoga, 1 hours prayer time everyday should be started with.
      In morning after taking bath, a person should pray to God(start with Aum recitation with eyes closed, Hare krishna mantra or any other mantra that makes u feel an internal connection), offer water to Lord shiva’s lingam, offer flowers to all the dieties in your home temple, burn some incense sticks or dhoopam 0r diya, offer small portion of your first meal of day to lord and thank him later mix this portion with rest of food, it can be as simple as corn flakes with milk!!) also before going for prayer play some bhajans or devotional songs, u may be occupied in kitchen or some other place that time, it prepares you for prayer better.

      later in evening after sunset(between 6.30pm to 8.30pm in case sun set and all is like norway!!) again burn some incense sticks or diya, offer vegetarian food if cooked, and recite the aum or other mantra. you may read any aarti if u know how to read hindi/sanskrit. U may continue prayer into meditation while meditation on mantra Aum or on some other object internally.

      Hope this helps.

  6. Happy New Year.

  7. @ Art, ” If so, in what amounts? ”
    good question, it depends on your time constraints, and as a dad with small kids a good amount of day ought to be spent with them, thats dharma too. I personally go with Jnana path more than the Bhakti one. I feel those who have advanced well into the jnana realm then reverse their course and get back to bhakti rituals. Controlling the mind ie., meditation takes lots of time in the beginning as often it happens to me.

    Tandava, thaks for letting us comment without requirement of registering, i feel its too demanding on the part of blog owners to make me register eachtime i desire to comment, thats the reason i dont comment on those blogs, please try not to change your comment policy and keep it user friendly just the way it is. Im lazy !!

    • @Surya,
      I find the default comment settings for wordpress work fine. When users comment first they need to be moderated, but then I can choose whether to let their comments go through automatically from then on, moderate each one, or block them completely.

  8. Hey Tandava,

    I’m just getting back into the game and I am agreeable 100% with this.

    It does seem the hardest part of heeding the call is to put knowledge into practice. Also, while there is a tonne of info out there, 99% of it is either general or reflects the view of one particular sampradaya, and lets face it, if you are called to Vishnu, unless you know where to look you are exposed to nothing but Hare Krishna material. Not that this is a bad thing, but when you are trying to find your path, one could be lead to believe the Hare Krishna’s are the paradigm of Vishnu Bhakti.

    As with tailoring, you can not teach yourself. You can learn the stitches and be able to make something that might fit, but without a tailor there, to tell you all the oral traditions that are not in books you will never become a tailor, though you could fake it with enough practice.

    My advice to those westerners called upon this path is to find a practising hindu, the more the merrier, to get different points of view. While these Hindus will not be the same as having a Guru, they will help put you on the right path, or at least put batteries in your torch so you can find your way. I know for me, beyond my experiences as a kid and then being pointed in the right path 10 years ago by Manu-bhai, it was not until I started making friends with hindus that things started coming together for me. The kindness, patience and advice I have received over the past year has been invaluable, and these people come from different paths from Sri Sampradaya to Smarta. Even Tandava’s mad rumblings have helped as well.

    Do not be scared, God has called you. Be humble, and take in all that you learn even if you may not agree, and lastly be patient, you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

  9. Kodanda,
    Thanks, some very good points. Hinduism is not in books it is in the heart of those who practice it.

  10. I know I am late to this discussion, but I agree with you and with Art. As some one who is new to practicing Hinduism but also a religious studies scholar I am daily struck with how much I have to learn but also just how much there is to know! I probably could have taught a unit on Hinduism to undergraduates before starting my own journey, but that ‘knowledge’ of facts is not the same as knowing the practice. I didn’t realize quite the intensity of the tradition! My learning from books only educated me in a very limited set of beliefs. I could also spend all my days learning something new on the internet.

    But I dive into practice and each piece begins to make sense. I add something new every few days. I do what I can, what I want, what resonates, so that the tradition unfolds for me. That wording sounds selfish, but I’m trying to set myself up success and longevity, not burn out. As I recently posted on my blog, there is an ‘in’ in the Sanatana dharma for just about everybody. It seems to be an incredibly welcoming tradition.

  11. Start With Chanting the 108 principal names of shiva

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