Mimamsa Darshana

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Maharshi Jaimini Prasitam Karma Mimamsa Darshana (Original Sanskrit Text)

  Bharatiya Dharma Mimamsa
  Pramana Mimansa
Mīmāmsā (मीमांसा), a Sanskrit word meaning "investigation", is the name of an astika ("orthodox") school of Hindu philosophy whose primary enquiry is into the nature of dharma based on close hermeneutics of the Vedas. Its core tenets are ritualism (orthopraxy), anti-asceticism and anti-mysticism. The central aim of the school is elucidation of the nature of dharma, understood as a set ritual obligations and prerogatives to be performed properly. The nature of dharma isn't accessible to reason or observation, and must be inferred from the authority of the revelation contained in the Vedas, which are considered eternal, authorless (apaurusheyatva), and infallible.

Mimamsa strongly concerned with textual exegesis, and consequently gave rise to the study of philology and the philosophy of language. Its notion of shabda "speech" as indivisible unity of sound and meaning (signifier and signified) is due to Bhartrhari (7th century).

Mimamsa is also known as Pūrva Mīmāṃsā ("prior" inquiry, also Karma-Mīmāṃsā), in contrast to Uttara Mīmāṃsā ("posterior" inquiry, also Brahma-Mīmāṃsā) is the opposing school of Vedanta. This division is based on the notion of a dichotomy of the Vedic texts into a karma-kāṇḍa, the department of the Veda treating of sacrificial rites (Samhitas and Brahmanas), and the j˝āna-kāṇḍa dealing with the knowledge of Brahman (the Upanishads).


The school's origins lie in the scholarly traditions of the final centuries BCE, when the priestly ritualism of Vedic sacrifice was being marginalized by Buddhism and Vedanta. To counteract this challenge, several groups emerged dedicated to demonstrating the validity of the Vedic texts by rigid formulation of rules for their interpretation. The school gathers momentum in the Gupta period with Śābara, and reaches its apex in the 7th to 8th centuries with Kumārila Bha..a and Prabhākara.

The school for some time in the Early Middle Ages exerted near-dominant influence on learned Hindu thought, and is credited as a major force contributing to the decline of Buddhism in India, but it has fallen into decline in the High Middle Ages and today is all but eclipsed by Vedanta.


Mimamsa texts
The foundational text for the Mimamsa school is the Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini (ca. 3rd to 1st century BCE). A major commentary was composed by Śābara in ca. the 5th or 6th century CE. The school reaches its height with Kumārila Bhaṭṭa and Prabhākara (fl. ca. 700 CE). Both Kumarila Bhatta and Prabhākara (along with Murāri, whose work is no more extant) have written extensive commentaries on Śābara's Mimamsasutrabhāshyam. Kumārila Bhatta, Mandana Misra, Parthasarathi Misra, Sucharita Misra, Ramakrishna Bhatta, Madhava Subhodini, Sankara Bhatta, Krsnayajvan, Anantadeva, Gaga Bhatta, Ragavendra Tirtha, VijayIndhra Tirtha, Appayya Dikshitar, Paruthiyur Krishna Sastri, Mahomahapadyaya Sri Ramsubba Sastri, Sri Venkatsubba Sastri, Sri A. Chinnaswami Sastri, Sengalipuram Vaidhyanatha Dikshitar were some of the Mimamsa Scholars.

The Mīmāṁsā Sūtra of Jaimini (c. 3rd century BCE) has summed up the general rules of nyāya for Vedic interpretation. The text has 12 chapters, of which the first chapter is of philosophical value. The commentaries on the Mīmāṁsā Sūtra by Bhartṛmitra, Bhavadāsa, Hari and Upavarṣa are no more extant. Śabara (c. 1st century BCE) is the first commentator of the Mīmāṁsā Sūtra, whose work is available to us. His bhāṣya is the basis of all later works of Mīmāṁsā . Kumārila Bhaṭṭa (7th century CE), the founder of the first school of the Mīmāṁsā commented on both the Sūtra and its Śabara Bhāṣya. His treatise consists of 3 parts, the Ślokavārttika, the Tantravārttika and the Ṭupṭīkā. Manḍana Miśra (8th century CE) was a follower of Kumārila, who wrote Vidhiviveka and Mīmāṁsānukramaṇī. There are several commentaries on the works of Kumārila. Sucarita Miśra wrote a Kāśikā (commentary) on the Ślokavārttika. Someśvara Bhatta wrote Nyāyasudhā, also known as Rāṇaka, a commentary on the Tantravārttika. Pārthasarathi Miśra wrote Nyāyaratnākara (1300 CE), another commentary on the Ślokavārttika. He also wrote Śāstradīpikā, an independent work on the Mīmāṁsā and Tantraratna. Venkaṭa Dīkṣita’s Vārttikabharaṇya is a commentary on the Ṭupṭīkā. Prabhākara (8th century CE), the originator of the second school of the Mīmāṁsā wrote his commentary Bṛhatī on the Śabara Bhāṣya. Śālikanātha’s Ṛjuvimalā (9th century CE) is a commentary on the Bṛhatī. His Prakaraṇapa˝cikā is an independent work of this school and the Pariśiṣṭa is a brief explanation of the Śabara Bhāṣya. Bhavanātha’s Nyāyaviveka deals with the views of this school in details. The founder of the third school of the Mīmāṁsā was Murāri, whose works have not reached us.

Āpadeva (17th century) wrote an elementary work on the Mīmāṁsā, known as Mīmāṁsānyāyaprakaśa or Āpadevī. Arthasaṁgraha of Laugākṣi Bhāskara is based on the Āpadevī. Vedānta Deśika’s Śeśvara Mīmāṁsā was an attempt to combine the views of the Mīmāṁsā and the Vedānta schools.


In the field of epistemology, later Mimamsakas made some notable contributions. Unlike the Nyaya or the Vaisheshika systems, the Prābhākara school recognizes five pramanas (means of valid knowledge) and the Bhāṭṭa school recognizes six. In addition to the four pramanas (pratyakṣa, anumāna, upamāna and śabda) accepted by the Nyaya school, the Prābhākara school recognizes arthāpatti (presumption) and the Bhāṭṭa school recognizes both arthāpatti and anuapalabdhi (non-apprehension) as the valid means of knowledge. A more interesting feature of the Mimamsa school of philosophy is its unique epistemological theory of the intrinsic validity of all cognition as such. It is held that all knowledge is ipso facto true (Satahprāmāṇyavāda). Thus, what is to be proven is not the truth of a cognition, but its falsity. The Mimamsakas advocate the self-validity of knowledge both in respect of its origin (utpatti) and ascertainment (j˝apti). Not only did the Mimamsakas make the very great use of this theory to establish the unchallengeable validity of the Vedas, but later Vedantists also drew freely upon this particular Mimamsa contribution.


Dharma and atheism
Dharma as understood by Poorva Mimāmsā can be loosely translated into English as "virtue", "morality" or "duty". The Poorva Mimāmsā school traces the source of the knowledge of dharma neither to sense-experience nor inference, but to verbal cognition (i.e. knowledge of words and meanings) according to Vedas. In this respect it is related to the Nyaya school, the latter, however, allows less Prāmānas (proofs) than Poorva Mimāmsā.[citation needed]

The Poorva Mimāmsā school held dharma to be equivalent to following the prescriptions of the Samhitas and their Brahmana commentaries relating the correct performance of Vedic rituals. Seen in this light, Poorva Mimamsa is essentially ritualist (orthopraxy), placing great weight on the performance of Karma or action as enjoined by the Vedas.

Emphasis of Yajnic Karmakāndas in Poorva Mimāmsā is erroneously interpreted by some to be an opposition to Jnānakānda of Vedānta and Upanishadas. Poorva Mimāmsā does not discuss topics related to Jnānakānda, such as moksha or salvation, but it never speaks against moksha. Vedānta quotes Jaimini's belief in Brahman as well as in moksha:

In Uttara-Mīmāmsā or Vedānta (4.4.5-7), Bādarāyana cites Jaimini as saying (ब्राह्मेण जैमिनिरूपन्यासादिभ्यः) "(The mukta Purusha is united with the Brahman) as if it were like the Brahman, because descriptions (in Shruti etc) prove so".

In Vedānta (1.2.28), Bādarāyana cites Jaimini as saying that "There is no contradictiction in taking Vaishvānara as the supreme Brahman".

In 1.2.31, Jaimini is again quoted by Bādarāyana as saying that the nirguna Brahman can manifest itself as having a form.

In 4.3.12, Bādarāyana again cites Jaimini as saying that the mukta Purusha attains Brahman.

In Poorva Mimāmsā too, Jaimini emphasises the importance of faith in and attachment to the Omnipotent Supreme Being Whom Jaimini calls "The Omnipotent Pradhaana" (The Main):

Poorva Mimāmsā 6.3.1: "sarvaśaktau pravṛttiḥ syāt tathābhūtopadeśāt" (सर्वशक्तौ प्रवृत्तिः स्यात् तथाभूतोपदेशात्). The term Upadesha here is means instructions of the Shāstras as taught. We should tend towards the Omnipotent Supreme Being. In the context of Poorva Mimāmsā 6.3.1 shown above, next two sutras becomes significant, in which this Omnipotent Being is termed as "Pradhāna", and keeping away from Him is said to be a "Dosha", hence all beings are asked to get related ("abhisambandhāt" in tadakarmaṇi ca doṣas tasmāt tato viśeṣaḥ syāt pradhānenābhisambandhāt; Jaimini 6, 3.3) to the "Omnipotent Main Being" (api vāpy ekadeśe syāt pradhāne hy arthanirvṛttir guṇamātram itarat tadarthatvāt; Jaimini 6, 3.2). Karma-Mīmāmsā supports the Vedas, and Rgveda says that one Truth is variously named by the sages. It is irrelevant whether we call Him as Pradhāna or Brahman or Vaishvānara or Shiva or God. With such explicit ideas in Poorva-Mīmāmsā, and supportive evidences from Uttara-Mīmāmsā, it is wrong to say that the concept of Supreme God is absent in Poorva-Mīmāmsā. Poorva-Mīmāmsā believes in Vedas and in Yajnas performed for gods (Devatās), hence it is wrong to call it atheist, especially in light of explicit affirmation of its faith in the Omnipotent (Poorva Mimāmsā 6.3.1)












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