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The "modern" sages of the Advaita are part of the Traditionalist School: for them, the other religions are other valid paths to the Absolute.

I will quote from Sri Râmakrishna to illustrate this position:

He who is called Krishna is also called Siva, and bears the name of the Primal Energy, Jesus, and Allah as well--the same Rama with a thousand names. A lake has several ghats. At one the Hindus take water in pitchers and call it 'jal'; at another the Mussalmans take water in leather bags and call 'pani'. At a third the Christians call it 'water'. Can we imagine that it is not 'jal' but only 'pani' or 'water'? How ridiculous! The substance is One under different names, and everyone is seeking the same substance; only climate, temperament, and name create differences. Let each man follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God, peace be unto him! He will surely realize Him.

  • Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

This verse is often cited as an example:

Gîtâ IV.11: In whatsoever way men approach Me, even so do I reward them; for it is My path, O Partha, that men follow in all things.

However, we can read in the Manusmṛti:

12.95: All those traditions (smriti) and those despicable systems of philosophy, which are not based on the Veda, produce no reward after death; for they are declared to be founded on Darkness.

12.96: All those (doctrines), differing from the (Veda), which spring up and (soon) perish, are worthless and false, because they are of modern date

How can this apparent contradiction be resolved? Should we reject Manusmṛti because it is not a Śruti? Or on the contrary, reject the opinion of "modern" gurus? What is the opinion of the Vedas and Adi Shankara on this issue?

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Gita doesn't support Ram Krishna here nor does any scripture but since he was of a purified mind, we would try to investigate the reasons behind his saying. For now, understand that the verse you have quoted -

Gîtâ IV.11: In whatsoever way men approach Me, even so, do I reward them; for it is My path, O Partha, that men follow in all things.

is not talking about dharma aspects but moksha aspects - means, whatever way men approach to attain the ultimate, they eventually attain it either slowly or swiftly. This verse isn't talking about all men-made dharmas are true, but saying all men-made moksha ways eventually end at the ultimate. Islam, Christianity etc are mostly inaccurate counterpart of dharma & not moksha, for Abrahamic religions (leaving their esoteric branches if there are) are stopping at heaven or hell which is attainable according to dharma or adharma (dharma/adharma are to be inferred from dharma scriptures).

Now, on scriptures of dharma aka Dharma-Shastras, Bhagwat Gita is in complete agreement with the Manu Smriti verses you have quoted.

BG 16.23: Those who act under the impulse of desire, discarding the injunctions of the scriptures, attain neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme goal in life.
BG 16.24: Therefore, let the scriptures be your authority in determining what should be done and what should not be done. Understand the scriptural injunctions and teachings, and then perform your actions in this world accordingly.


Now, talking about the author of this passage -

He who is called Krishna is also called Siva, and bears the name of the Primal Energy, Jesus, and Allah as well--the same Rama with a thousand names. A lake has several ghats. At one the Hindus take water in pitchers and call it 'jal'; at another the Mussalmans take water in leather bags and call 'pani'. At a third the Christians call it 'water'. Can we imagine that it is not 'jal' but only 'pani' or 'water'? How ridiculous! The substance is One under different names, and everyone is seeking the same substance; only climate, temperament, and name create differences. Let each man follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God, peace be unto him! He will surely realize Him.

Ramkrishna is merely telling that the essence is the same despite having many names & one who wholeheartedly aspires for the essence, the one arrives at it whatever background the one may have. Moreover, He is speaking to a particular audience, not to all. His audience, who are aspiring the essence, not a general population. Some words are meant for a particular audience only.

It is always good to investigate why & where someone said so.

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    All religions which are not pagan, natural worshipping divine deities, gods, of Aryans are man made, it is very unsightly of Aryans to worship Christ, Pope, unnatural, offers straight ticket to hell, worships lowest ugly bearded scum as great prophets. – Aoi. T_015 Aug 29 at 9:23
  • So if I understand correctly, the Scriptures condemn other exoterisms (the moral/religious aspect of other religions) and recognize the validity of other esoterisms of these religions because all true metaphysical paths lead to the Absolute? – Kalapa Aug 29 at 11:25
  • @Kalapa E.g, A devoted Muslim although having false doctrines might get enlightenment after death or get a higher birth. Truth is Sanatana Dharma but exceptions do exist everywhere. – Mr. Sigma. Sep 2 at 6:03
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How can this apparent contradiction be resolved?

Not any and every path leads to Brahman or liberation. There are paths that lead to hell, some lead to swarga, and others lead to Brahman. The same Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita later says that people who follow non-Vedic, Asuric paths go to hell.

BG 16.23: Those who act under the impulse of desire, discarding the injunctions of the scriptures, attain neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme goal in life.

BG 16.24: Therefore, let the scriptures be your authority in determining what should be done and what should not be done. Understand the scriptural injunctions and teachings, and then perform your actions in this world accordingly.

So, Bhagavad Gita verse 4.11 is not actually saying that one can reach Brahman by following any path, but only paths sanctioned by the Vedas. Jesus, Mohammed, etc followed non-Vedic paths, and paths especially hostile to the Vedas (they rejected worship of idols, etc). These religions contradict the Vedas, and Vedas are the primary source of religious information to Hindus, so how can Hindus say that these paths are valid?

In the Vishnudharmotta Purana, Vishnu says,

Shruti and Smriti are my commands. One who transgresses by commands is a traitor.

Only Shruti and Smriti are mentioned, not scriptures of non-Vedic religions.

Should we reject Manusmṛti because it is not a Śruti?

If you reject the Manusmrit because it is not a Shruti, then you should also reject the Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, and Ramayana, because they too are not Shrutis.

Or on the contrary, reject the opinion of "modern" gurus?

The only modern gurus who claim that "all religions are the same" are reformist Vedantins/Hindus, such as the followers of Vivekananda and Arya Samaj.

Modern, orthodox followers of Vedanta such as the followers of Ramanujacharya, Shankaracharya, and Madhvacharaya, do not make such claims, and instead claim that only the Vedas, and all its supplementary texts such as the Smritis, can lead one to Brahman.

What is the opinion of the Vedas and Adi Shankara on this issue?

The Vedas themselves support the validity of Smriti.

In the Chhandogya Upanishad, Narada rishi mentions all the religious knowledge he knows. Included among them are the Smritis:

Nârada said: 'I know the Rig-veda, Sir, the Yagur-veda, the Sâma-veda, as the fourth the Âtharvana, as the fifth the Itihâsa-purâna (the Bhârata); the Veda of the Vedas (grammar); the Pitrya (the rules for the sacrifices for the ancestors); the Râsi (the science of numbers); the Daiva (the science of portents); the Nidhi (the science of time); the Vâkovâkya (logic); the Ekâyana (ethics); the Deva-vidyâ (etymology); the Brahma-vidyâ (pronunciation, sikshâ, ceremonial, kalpa, prosody, khandas); the Bhûta-vidyâ (the science of demons); the Kshatra-vidyâ (the science of weapons); the Nakshatra-vidyâ (astronomy); the Sarpa and Devagana-vidyâ (the science of serpents or poisons, and the sciences of the genii, such as the making of perfumes, dancing, singing, playing, and other fine arts)

So, these branches of knowledge are mentioned by the Vedas and studied by the Rishis, and so that makes them authoritative.

The Taittirya Samhita of the Krishna Yajur Veda also says that the Manusmriti is as good as medicine:

whatever Manu said is medicine

Also check this answer that talks about the authoritativeness of the Manusmriti.

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Both the statements of Sri Ramakrishna and that found in Manu Smriti are correct. However, they require a little deeper understanding.

Many people will get struck at the sentences, of Sri Ramakrishna's statement, made in the beginning, but forget that the crux of his statement lies in the last sentences - Let each man follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God, peace be unto him! He will surely realize Him.

The underlying principle is sincerity in knowing the God.


Many people will fight among themselves in proving superiority of their own respective way of worship.

How many of them actually strived to go deep into the philosophy of respective way of worship, and tried to reach the finality? Very few.

The deeper one delves into spirituality, the lesser will be friction with other ways worship.


What would one can make from the following verse from Rig Veda (I.164.46)?

They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, and he is heavenly nobly-winged Garutman. To what is One, sages give many a title they call it Agni, Yama, Matarisvan.

Did Sri Ramakrishna say anything different from the above mantra from Rig Veda?

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