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A few days back, prominent Hindu rights activist,Shefali Vaidya shared a post on her facebook feed. It had a message from Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya. Here it is-

As I travel the nation delivering lectures on Hindu philosophy and spirituality, I frequently encounter a repeated scenario. Hindu parents will approach me after I’ve finished my lecture and timidly ask for advice. The often-repeated story goes somewhat like this: “We raised our daughter (or son) to be a good Hindu. We took her to the temple for important holidays. We even sent her to a Hindu camp for a weekend when she was 13. Now at the age of 23, our child has left Hinduism and converted to the (fill in the blank) religion. When we ask how she could have left the religion of her family, the answer she throws back in our face is: ‘Mama/dada, you always taught me that all religions are the same, and that it doesn’t really matter how a person worships God. So what does it matter if I have followed your advice and switched to another religion?’ “

Historically, pre-colonial, classical Hinduism never taught that all religions are the same. This is not to say, however, that Hinduism has not believed in tolerance or freedom of religious thought and expression. It has always been a religion that has taught tolerance of other valid religious traditions. However, the assertion that a) we should have tolerance for the beliefs of other religions is a radically different claim from the overreaching declaration that b) all religions are the same. This confusion between two thoroughly separate assertions may be one reason why so many modern Hindus believe that Hindu tolerance is synonymous with Radical Universalism. To maintain a healthy tolerance of another person’s religion does not mean that we have to then adopt that person’s religion!

If we want to ensure that our youth remain committed to Hinduism as a meaningful path, that our leaders teach Hinduism in a manner that represents the tradition faithfully and with dignity, and that the greater Hindu community can feel that they have a religion that they can truly take pride in, then we must abandon Radical Universalism. If we want Hinduism to survive so that it may continue to bring hope, meaning and enlightenment to untold future generations, then the next time our son or daughter asks us what Hinduism is really all about, let us not slavishly repeat to them that all religions are the same. Let us instead look into their eyes, and teach them the uniquely precious, beautifully endearing, and philosophically profound truths of our tradition–truths that have been responsible for keeping Hinduism a vibrantly living religious force for over 5,000 years. Let us teach them Sanatana Dharma, the eternal way of Truth

~ Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya

So is it true that pre colonial Hinduism had different attitude for other religions than compared to today's Hinduism which is sort of diluted with radical universalism promoted by some Hindu saints.

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    I have not come across any pre-colonial Hindu work that says all religions are the same. As is well-known, Adi Shankara and many other Acharyas, criticized Buddhism.
    – user23407
    Aug 11 '21 at 7:18
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    @zero exactly. I think "all relgions are same" concept was born in colonial bengal during reformation. With people like raja rammohun roy, ramakrishna and others spearheading this radical universalism.
    – RishX
    Aug 11 '21 at 7:51
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    This is not a forum to prove or disprove youtube, facebook, twitter, etc. postings. Your question should be directed to the author of the social media posting. If the person who holds the views stated, they should provide a source for their views. As it is stated it is a historical opinion. See also hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/9927/… and hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/26901/… Aug 11 '21 at 11:07
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    @RishX You need see the following answer: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/13624
    – Rickross
    Aug 12 '21 at 7:00
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    @Rickross thank you so much. This pretty much solves my doubt. I used to think that jainism and buddhism being valid was just a RSS beleif with no scriptural validity
    – RishX
    Aug 17 '21 at 17:13
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In a certain way, the Bhagavad Gita 4.11 seems to proclaim a sort of religous universalism:

Shankara Bhasya
4.11 “Howsoever men approach Me, even so do I reward them; My path do men follow in all things O son of Pritha”

Commentary: “[...] In all things, men follow My path, the path of the Isvara who exists in all forms. [Here ‘men’ stands for all those who are engaged in works precscribed according to their respective ends]”

Even the Vaishnava commentaries acknowledge this:

Vaishnava commentary: Sārārtha-Varṣiṇī Prakāśikā-vṛtti
“According to their degree of conviction, I cast some of them into the cycle of birth and death. I appear as void to the nihilists, or śūnyavādīs, merging their existence with the void. I completely cover the consciousness of the materialistic empiricists, as well as those who identify themselves as being born of nature, by making their consciousness almost inert. I am only attainable to them in the form of inert nature. I appear as Īśvara to the yogīs, rewarding them with mystic powers or impersonal liberation. In this way, as the intrinsic form of everything (sarva-svarūpa), I am the object of achievement for all types of beliefs. Among them all, the only one that should be considered supreme is attainment of transcendental service to Me. All human beings follow one of My various paths.”

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  • Please see if you are able to post the Sanskrit commentary.
    – user23407
    Aug 11 '21 at 11:12

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