I have read the annhilation of caste by Ambedkar in my teens,read Gandhiji’s Harijan ,one copy, where he answers to some perverse people who justify untouchability .I have read the horror stories of human sacrifices in parts of India coming from parts of Hinduism. And I have been revolted beyond measure and have at various times felt the sheer horror of it all. And I have abandoned Hinduism, I gave up my traditional faith, I have for various other reasons including personal ones come back to it, but in a different way. With more a sense of nyaya/vaisheshika, the need to rid oneself of delusions. I think untouchability, caste violence and violence in general against women, many of these are horrors we still live with and if One cannot get rid of these horrors in 150 odd more years. or not make very significant progress, then one must end it for it is not good and is not defensible. It has the right to flourish as that had been hijacked by historic forces. If it doesnt work in the end, then it must end too.
I once began reading the book of arundhati roy,” listening to the grass hoppers”, even after I had become atheist, I was in depression , and the book made it much worse, I didnt finish that book, I still have it somewhere. If there is nothing to be salvaged knowing all the worst there is, then there is nothing there to value any of it. But one shouldnt be ignorant. And make choices on that. There is something in its philosophies, if not vedanta, then nyaya, if not nyaya, then bhakti, if not bhakti, then yoga, if not yoga, then , karma yoga. Or may be a combination of many. It has a richness in its diversity, whether it be ramanuja who took a shudra as his guru,invited him to his home for meals and was not there when he did come, his wife served but later washed the home and bathed herself, and ramanuja on returning didnt like this, many such incidents pushed him to become monk instead tried to work to bring this to end.
There are problems in all people, in him and others as well, but this here points to atma stuthi(conscience) and sadachara( ethics of good people from all classes) , while these methods were hierarchically less in value compared to texts, They in time as more texts were written led to movements of various gurus possible.For ethical learning could happen with out the texts from the good people as well. This was the one good escape route for more general ethical learning that played a part in bhakti movement. While it is interesting that the earliest dharma shastra apastambha sutra was better than the later manusmriti, for it put mutually agreed ideas superior to vedas, for he considered “dharma and adharma do not fly around declaring this is righteous and this isnt, even gods and demi gods cannot declare so.”
As patrick olivelle says, apastambha argued that parts of vedas are lost and one can only infer from the behavior of people to find the true ideal dharma , so one must learn from customs of men and women. On the other hand manusmriti doesnt like reasoning to be the sole basis for declaring moral issues either. So while Hinduism over time began to value different opinions, it didnt find “reasoning” to be the primary source to discover this, Inspite of nyaya being a recognized tradition.