On Upanishad: The difference between knowledge and intelligence


Questioner: Can I say that intelligence is greater than knowledge, or vice-versa?

Acharya Prashant: They are incomparable.

To say one is greater than the other, you have to bring them to the same plane, have the same unit, the same benchmarks, and the same scale to compare them. They are in different dimensions.

Knowledge is the stuff of mind;
Intelligence is the sublimation of mind.

Knowledge is the whole movement of mind;
Intelligence is the settlement of mind.

Both have their respective places. But obviously, if you want to ask which of these is more fundamental—it is intelligence.

Intelligence is not intellect. Intelligence is not how clever you are. Intelligence is that which enables you to simply see. See the simple even in the complex. See the straightforward and the obvious even in that which is totally complicated. That is intelligence. Intelligence is that which reduces the whole clutter and wipes away the dirt.

In that sense, intelligence is a kind of emptiness. A lack of corruption. Something that is very intrinsic to you. An innate ability, a characteristic which has not been obfuscated or covered by conditioning.

Intelligence is not something acquired. Intelligence is not something that books can give you. Books can give you knowledge. Intelligence is your fundamental nature, very fundamental nature. They are incomparable. But if you want an advice, then live in intelligence rather than knowledge. Be seated in intelligence. Knowledge can be available as a resource. As something to be used.

Use knowledge and be used by Intelligence.

Knowledge will be your slave, but you have to be a slave of intelligence.

Surrender to Intelligence.

To be surrendered to Intelligence means to be surrendered to the pure Self, for the nature of pure Self is Intelligence (bodh).

About that the Upanishads say, Prajñānam Brahman—Brahman is Truth, Prajñānam is intelligence or awareness. So, intelligence itself is Truth.

And also, just as intelligence is not intellect, intelligence is also not even intuition. Intelligence is that which operates when you do not take yourself to be very clever. Intelligence is that which comes into action when you do not have a grand belief that your action will deliver the goods for you. You just make way for it. You do not create it. You just make way for it. You surrender to it.

Respectfully, you bow down to it.

That does not mean that one will not have knowledge. In the little matters of life, knowledge is useful. One must know the password to his email account.


Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant on Upanishad: The difference between knowledge and intelligence

Read more articles on this topic:

Article 1: Let life be a celebration of Intelligence

Article 2: On Rumi: To have knowledge is ignorance; to be free of knowledge is wisdom

Article 3: To really know is to take knowledge lightly

Editor’s Note: 

Books by Acharya Prashant are available on AMAZON:



2 thoughts on “On Upanishad: The difference between knowledge and intelligence

    • Dear Lizalizaskysaregrey,

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