The notion that all paths lead to the same destination is quite a new development in Hinduism. Ancient Acharyas belonging to different sects never claimed so. On the contrary, they debated a lot to prove that other schools were wrong. This intellectual exercise was central to Hindu thoughts for Millenium. For example, think about the debates between different schools of Hindu philosophy - Advaita, Samkhya, Nyaya and other Vedanta schools, etc.

However, in modern times, this intellectual vigour died. It got replaced by an over-simplistic view that all paths lead to the same destination. It has almost become a void slogan. Modern Gurus more or less actively propagates this idea or at least support it.

Ramakrishna even articulated it as one of his central teachings. He famously said there are as many ways as many beliefs ("Jato Mat Tato Path").

However, this is a blatant contradiction to the Hindu Scripture. Please note that here I am talking about Hindu scripture (Sruti - Vedas). So please do not quote from Bhagavad Gita. Bhagavad Gita is part of Mahabharata, classified as Smriti (tradition).

Here are the relevant verses from the Vedas -

"They say: It is Indra, Mitra, Varuna, and Agni, Divya (the shining one), and Garutman (the mighty universal spirit). Though the truth is one, sages describe the one being in various ways ("Ekam Sad Vipra Bahudha Vadanti"). They say it is Agni, Yama (the ordained of the world), and the Matarisvan (the life energy of the Universe) - Rgveda I.146.64

Thus, you see it clearly says that there are different names for the same destination. However, there is just one path to reach that destination.

Always performing works one should wish to live a hundred years. If you live thus as a man, there is no other way than this (Na Anyatha Asti) by which Karma does not adhere to you. - Yajurveda (Shukla) XL.2

Liberation is the freedom from the bondage of Karma. This verse clearly says that one can get rid of the karmic bondage only by performing actions (not refraining from it). So basically, it talks about Karma yoga. Here we are talking about Karma performed without attachment. Works done in this spirit do not bind the soul, rather liberates.

In this Vedic scheme, where does exactly Ramakrishna's worldview fit? Can anybody cite any Vedic verse that talks about multiple paths?

  • 2
    I mentioned this in another thread comment - Assume there is a ladder when 100 steps, and top is Moksha. Sanatan Dharm is last 10 steps, In those 10, you have karma, then jnana, then bhakti as final step. In remaining 90 steps, you can divide them into 10 each, where lowest 10 would be animalistic lives, then next 10 would be worshipping dead/ghosts, then nature, then islam, then christianity, then judaism etc.. When saints say all paths lead to Moksha, they mean it in the sense 'all are steps in the ladder'. They don't mean it in the sense that 'all steps are the last step'.
    – ram
    Sep 9, 2021 at 19:19
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    All paths EVENTUALLY lead to the destination. But only one path can be the final step before the destination, and that step is Veda dharma.
    – ram
    Sep 9, 2021 at 19:20
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    For this one should understand why karma without attachment provide liberation? It has to do with mind. It is due to mind that one keeps taking birth. Karma yoga says - divert away mind from worldly desires, pleasure and pain. Bhakti yoga would require same - mind to only rest on and think of God. In meditation one do same thing, mind is made to focus and not to dwell on outside activities. That way all paths uses same technique- control mind and move it away from world.
    – Ketan
    Sep 10, 2021 at 0:46

1 Answer 1


Vedas talk of other paths than Karma Yoga. I give below two examples.

Verily, all this universe is Brahman. From Him do all things originate, into Him do they dissolve and by Him are they sustained. On Him should one meditate in tranquility. For as is one's faith, such indeed one is; and as is one's faith in this world, such one becomes on departing hence. Let one, therefore, cultivate faith.

Chandogya Upanishad 3.14.1

'santa upasita' or 'On Him should one meditate in tranquility' is talking of Bhakti Yoga since one cannot meditate on Nirguna Brahman.

Another example of recommending Bhakti Yoga is given in Svetasvatara Upanishad.

I know the Supreme Person of sun like color (lustre) beyond the darkness. Only by knowing Him does one pass over death. There is no other path for going there.

Svetasvatara Upanishad III.8

Here the Upanishad is saying that Bhakti yoga is the only path. Should we take it literally? No. It is simply praising Bhakti Yoga.


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