If a person interpolates scriptures with a good intent e.g., by replacing offending/controversial words/verses that are not current with the times, but doesn't disclose the modifications to maintain the authority of the scripture over the masses, does the person gain any puṇya by doing so?

Similarly, if one alters scriptures with a malicious intent, e.g., by inserting an authentic sounding verse in an important scripture for personal gains e.g., to prove superiority of one Hindu sect over the other, or a king could secretly sponsor additions to Manusmṛti so he can maintain tighter control over his subjects, does it constitute a sin?

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    Both kinds of tampering are wrong.. what makes you think that the first kind is ok? – Rickross Apr 28 '18 at 5:26
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    both kinds are wrong. what one person thinks of as a good tampering may be seen by others as bad. Both are wrong. – Swami Vishwananda Apr 28 '18 at 6:54
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    Someone should really have tampered the story of sraswati being brahma's wife, it's really freaking out my head. Or maybe it is a tampered story. :P – Anisha Apr 28 '18 at 7:00
  • @sv. The true scriptures will be complete in all aspects, they dont need any alterations - they were thought and/or said and/or written at the highest state of mind. It was written with all future yugas in mind, because such was the state of noble minds. Hence, the need does not arise. But, people do it and hence in the tenents, we understand we should apply our own mind before believing anything by anyone. Punya and sin - when each mind intents, it knows within it, the intent. There is no escaping that. Since it is beyond any of minds perception. – Rahul Apr 28 '18 at 15:40
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    “Sorry, but most Hindus follow laws of respective countries because rules prescribed in scriptures are outdated whether one agrees or not.” The fact that people believe the rules prescribed in scriptures are outdated and thus choose not to follow them does not imply that they are outdated. If people started believing rules against murder were outdated it would not mean that murder is okay. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 6 '19 at 3:38

Yes, here is what the Manusmriti says:

If a twice-born man has abandoned a refugee, or has tampered with the Veda, he atones for that offence by living upon barley for one year.—(198)

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    Okay, I didn't notice the commentary here. – Spark Sunshine Jan 5 '19 at 17:04
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    @Ikshvaku It is not talking abt interpolation at all... Here is another translation "11.198. A twice-born man who has cast off a suppliant for protection, or has (improperly) divulged the Veda, atones for his offence, if he subsists during a year on barley." – Rickross Jan 6 '19 at 7:31
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    The Sanskrit word used is viplAvya which comes from viplava .. see the various meanings of viplava from here: spokensanskrit.org/… .. so it is talking abt a sin a man commits by revealing the secrets of Veda to someone who is considered unfit to know such teachings.. @Ikshvaku – Rickross Jan 6 '19 at 7:34
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    @Ikshvaku Omitting Anuswaras is not interpolation at all .. it is just an error of chanting .. interpolation is changing the text altogether – Rickross Jan 29 '19 at 16:57
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    I don't think u are understanding .. removing/adding anuswara does not change the meaning of the word .. it is just a bindu .. for e.g jalam and jala both mean the same water .. @Ikshvaku – Rickross Jan 29 '19 at 17:26

The author of Ṛgvedic Legends Through the Ages, H. L. Hariyappa, believes that interpolations are parts and parcels of human life so cannot be considered a crime.

Verses wherein Śunaḥśepa's name is mentioned:

(a) They say that to me by night and by day, and the same sentiment strikes my heart (mind) as well. May Varuṇa the king, to whom Śunaḥśepa in bonds addressed himself, liberate us. (RV 1.24.12)

(b) To three stakes bound, Śunaḥśepa has verily addressed himself to the son of Aditi (Varuṇa). May Varuṇa the king set this (suppliant) free, may He, (who is) wise and above restrictions, entirely remove the fetters. (RV 1.24.13)

(c) You did liberate the fast-fettered Śunaḥśepa from a thousand fold stake and he became pacified, indeed. Even so do you, O Learned Priest of the gods, Agni, sitting here (with us) loosen our bonds. (RV 5.2.7)

On a close study of the above verses, certain impressions are irresistible. The first two verses which are ascribed to Śunaḥśepa do not seem to be his at all from a rational point of view.


The legend depicts that these mantras were uttered by Śunaḥśepa in order to obtain release, whereas the two verses, just referred to regard the release as a thing of the past.


If scholars believe in the theory of interpolation as an important and inevitable factor in textual criticism, then there can be no reason to demur at this conclusion, namely, Śunaḥśepa did not compose the two mantras (RV 1.24.12 and 13), but a later poet, possibly the compilers of the Śatarcina maṇḍala. Interpolation is a natural instinct in man and as such cannot be considered a crime.

Considering the texts which have been transmitted for centuries by oral tradition only–viz. the Veda and Vedic literature–the aspect of interpolation need not be doubted at all, "for the organs of tradition were not machines, but men."

It is well-known that many verses and hymns have formed part of the later Saṃhitās of the Yajus, Sāma and Atharva-vedas. Many a variant reading has been noticed of the Ṛgvedic text. Such a thing could be detected because of the availability, of the different recensions. In the case of the Ṛgveda, only the Śākala-Saṃhitā is what we have now. Who knows what Bāṣkala and others would have revealed in a crucial passage like this?

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