The Arthasamgraha is profound in contents, scholarly in treatment and simple and lucid in style and language. It condenses great amount of matter in pregnant language. The author, Laugaksi Bhaskara, about whose personal life sufficient information is not available, probably belonged to the South and flourished in the 14th-15th century. He wrote the text for beginners and so the language is characterized by simplicity and brevity, which are maintained even in the treatment of difficult problems. The work has gained popularity among scholars and beginners both and serves well as a gateway to the system of Purva Mimamsa.
The full name of the work as given by the author in the colophon is Purvamimams arthasamgraha which means a compendium dealing with the topics of Purva Mimamasa.
The present edition comprises the Sanskrit text in Devanagari script and translation into English with profuse notes, explanatory and critical, by professor Gajendragadkar and Karmarkar, which has proved the best on account of its merits. A new and very useful feature of this reprint is the addition of a detailed and very informative Introduction by Dr. Shiv Kumar.
The Mimamsa School
The Mimamsa School of Indian philosophy got the place of highest honour in the astika darsanas or the Brahmanical philosophies. It is the strongest propounder of the supersensuous matters like post-mortem existence, other worlds, acts and their results etc. Which form the main basis of ht ethical, religious and philosophical teachings of the Brahmanical philosophies. Mimamsa is closely related to the Vedas. It has provided the principles of Vedic interpretation, which are held in high esteem even at present. Since it conducts discussion on Vedavakyas, it came to be termed Vakyasastra also. As an aid to achieve its main purpose of interpreting the Vedas and explaining the ritualistic acts it has developed it own philosophy, logic and psychology and thus has contributed a lot to the stock of Indian thought. It also offered some maxims, which serve as rules of guidance in all walks of Indian life. Even today the Hindu literature on law does not violate the maxims fixed by Mimamsa. Thus, Mimamsa has greatly influenced Indian literature, culture and life.
The word Mimamsa is derived from the root man, to know, with the desiderative suffix san and means a desire to know or an enquiry or investigation. Since the object of desire to know, enquire or investigation here is dharma or religious duty, it is also called dharmamimamsa or karmamimamsa. It undertakes discussion about the problems relating to ritualistic acts. Jaimini gives this meaning to the sastra in the opening sutra of Mimamsa which marks the beginning of the enquiry into dharma.
The Mimamsa system owes its origin to the practical needs arising in connection with the performance of ritualistic acts. The Rgvedic Aryas believed in the fulfillment of their desires through prayers to gods. In course of time the prayers were accompanied by offerings to the gods and the methods and manner of making the offerings most acceptable to the gods became rather complicated. The clarification is found in the Brahmana literature and it was further elaborated in the Sutra literature. The explanation, however, could not satisfy all the queries and reconcile all traditions of sacrificial performance. Hence, many preceptors laid down various rules for the clarification of various intricacies of the sacrificial rituals. The Mimamsasutra of Jaimini complied and systematized these principles of Vedic interpretation prevailing in different circles just as Badarayana systematized the spiritual teachings of the Upanisads. In this way, the early Mimamsakas aim at interpreting the sacred texts and the science of interpretation and rituals reaches its peak at their hands. Besides, the Mimamsa texts give a mystic meaning to the rituals with a philosophical justification and thus are not confined to the explanation of sacrificial performances.
The Mimamsa Philosophy
The main purpose of Mimamsa philosophy was a methodical interpretation of dharma or duty embodied in the ritualistic portion of the Veda. Its philosophical position aims to provide epistemological, metaphysical and ethical justification to the ritualistic doctrines. In view of the above purpose the Mimamsakas have stressed Vedic testimony as the highest sources of valid knowledge requiring no external test for its validity. They believe in the reality of the world, pluralism of souls, heaven, hell, impressions of acts lasting till the attainments of fruits, potency and acts as the regulating force of the world and methodical performance of sacrifices.
Knowledge, according to the Mimamsakas, is the activity of the cogniser (jnatrvyapara) which is inferred through the effect viz., cognisedness characterizing the object cognized. It is of two types-valid and invalid. The latter involves some defect in the totally of causal conditions and is erroneous in nature. The former is, according to Kumarila, the knowledge, which is in agreement with the real nature of an object, novel and not contradicted by a sublating knowledge, or according to Prabhakara, the direct experience of an object as distinguished from remembrance.
As the source of valid knowledge the Mimamsakas of the Prabhakara school recognize five pramanas-perception, inference, verbal testimony, upamana and presumption, while the followers of the Bhatta school recognize six with the addition of anupalabdhi to the above.
Perception is the immediate knowledge of an object arising through sense-object contact. A sense- organ comes in contact with its object and get its impression. This knowledge is the indeterminate knowledge (alocana or nirvikalpa). Then the mind interprets it by assimilating it to the past experience which determines the class, quality, activity and name of the object. It is called determinate (savikalpa) knowledge.
Inference is the knowledge of one of the relata after perceiving the other when the invariable association between the two is already known. It is of two kind- for one's own self and for convincing others. The former is informal and does not require all the methodical steps while the latter consists of three statements- pratijna (statement of the probandum), hetu (probans) and drstanta (example). Kumarila further divides it into (i) pratyaksotadrstasambandha (where the invariable) and (ii) Samanyatodrstasambandha (where the invariable concomitance is seen in a general way).
Upamana is the means of knowing the similarity of the object remembered at sight of some resembling object. For example, a person having seen a cow in his hosue happens to come across a gavaya in the forest and then he comes to know that his cow is similar to the gavaya. Actually, Upamana is postulated by the Mimamsakas to get the knowledge of the sacrificial details of a rite from some other similar rite. Here, Prabhakara, unlike the Bhatta, considers similar rite. Here, Prabhakara, unlike the Bhatta, considers similarity to be an independent entity.
Verbal testimony is the most important source of knowledge because it justifies the supreme authority of the Veda as the most authentic source of knowledge of dharma which is eternal, absolute and supreme. It is defined as the statement made by a reliable authority. Prabhakara restricts it to the scriptural statements only while Kumarila believes in the authority of worldly persons also. The Vedas are not composed by any person- human or divine. The Vedic statements give directions for sacrificial ritual or persuade persons for the performance of them. The Vedas are eternal and impersonal in origin and hence are free from all possible mistakes due to human weakness and are unchangeable and infallible in authority.
Postulation is the supposition of some unperceived fact to explain some otherwise inexplicable facts. For example, when a man, Devadatta, is observed to be fasting in the daytime but still growing fat, we have to presume his eating at night to explain the contradictory facts of fasting at daytime and growing fat.
The Bhatta School believes in non-perception (anupalabdhi) as a means of cognition of absence cannot be perceived through senses because it cannot come in contact with the sense organs. It cannot be an object of inference because there is no valid probans to lead to such a conclusion. Nor can it be a case of verbal testimony or presumption because the conditions necessary fro them, viz., words and two seemingly contradictory facts are not present in this case. Prabhakara, on the contrary, holds that knowledge of absence arises through perception of the mere location devoid of the object to be negated.
In view of the fact that the sole purpose of Mimamsa is to ascertain dharma it should be observed that the Veda, i.e. the verbal testimony is the only means of knowledge directly leading to the above. The other means of knowledge are accepted firstly to prove that dharma cannot be ascertained by them, secondly for refuting some antagonistic views questioning the authoritative character of the Veda, and thirdly to settle various questions regarding the details about dharma.
As regards the genesis and ascertainment of validity of knowledge the Mimamsakas hold that validity is intrinsic to knowledge, i.e., it arises and is ascertained by the totality of causal conditions giving rise to knowledge itself, while invalidity is extrinsic. Thus, regarding validity the view of the Mimamsakas is opposed to that of the Naiyayikas who maintain that validity is opposed to that of the Naiyayikas who maintain that validity is produced in knowledge by extrinsic conditions like the sharpness of the senses and it is also ascertained extrinsically just as that of perception by inference. The Nyaya view, however, would, according to the Mimamsakas, involve the fault of infinite regress insofar as one knowledge will be ascertained through the other and so on. Moreover, it would defeat the very purpose of Mimamsa which believes in the infallibility of the Vedas without further questioning their validity.
The Mimamsakas believe in the reality of the world vehemently setting aside nihilism and idealism. They accept the eternity of the world, and do not indulge in any controversy about the origin of the universe. Here they differ from the Nyaya-Vaisesikas who believe in periodic creation and dissolution. The world is eternal and has ever been running the same without any creation or dissolution. Therefore, there is no need of any creator of the universe like God. Nor do the Mimamsakas admit God for supervision over dharma and adharma. On the contrary, they think that acceptance of God will involve further absurdities. The Mimamsakas firmly believe in the super-sensuous objects like heaven, hell and the deities on the strength of Vedic statements.
As regards the analysis of the contents of the universe, the Mimamsakas accept the Vaisesika categories and their subcategories with some notable deviations. Unlike the Vaisesikas, the Mimamsakas attach importance to Sakti as an independent category (or as a quality inherent in a cause). The efficiency of cause in giving rise to effect depends upon the presence of potency in it. The followers of Prabhakara, unlike the Vaisesikas, do not accept abhava as an independent category but take it as the form of te locus itself. Kumarila accepts the categories of substance, quality, action, generality and negation while Prabhakara believes in substance, quality, action, generality, inherence, potency, number and similarity. The Mimamsakas add sound and darkness to the Vaisesika list of nine substances. The visesa of the Vaisesikas is not accepted by the Mimamsakas. Mind, according to the Vaisesikas, is atomic, but according to the Mimamsakas it is all pervasive. Air is only to be inferred according to the Vaisesikas but can be directly perceived according to the Mimamsakas. Atoms are perceptible in the theory of the Mimamsakas but can be inferred, or perceived by the yogins only, according to the Vaisesikas. The Mimamsakas, unlike the Vaisesikas, do not accept God as the creator of the universe and the author of the Vedas. Ether, time and space are perceptible according to the Mimamsakas but are the objects of inference only according to the Vaisesikas.
The followers of Kumarila accept the classification of the qualities given by the Vaisesikas but substitute tone for sound, accept manifestation as a quality rejecting merit and demerit. According to the Mimamsakas, unlike the Vaisesikas, one quality may exist in the other. The Mimamsakas reject the Vaisesika position that knowledge is perceptible through mental perception. Sound is a substance according to the Mimamsakas but a quality according to the Vaisesikas. The Vaisesikas hold that conjunction does not exist in all pervasive substances and is produced and non-eternal, while Kumarila thinks that it is found in any two substance and is both eternal and non-eternal.
Soul is an indestructible eternal substance different from body, sense-organs and Buddhi. It is not destroyed at the time of death, but survives to reap the results of its actions. It is the agent of sacrificial rituals. Like the Nyaya-Vaisesika the Mimamsa also holds that knowledge etc. are adventitious qualities of soul and arise when it is conjoined with the mind-body complex. Souls are many in number each occupying one individual body. The Mimamsaka's reply to the question as to how soul is known is notable. Kumarila holds that it is known through mental perception as the object of self-consciousness when one reflects on the soul, while Prabhakara is of the opinion that soul is manifested as the subject of knowledge- in all types of cognition the three things, the cogniser, the object fo cognition and the cognition itself, are simultaneously revealed.
Mimamsa attaches supreme importance to the performance of sacrifice. It is the best means to attain the highest end of life. The source of knowledge of such an end and the means thereof is the Veda. Sacrifice is to be performed because it is prescribed by the Veda, and as such forms the most sacred duty of a person. If they are performed with some purpose in mind, one gets his desires fulfilled and if performed disinterestedly, they lead to liberation. Such a stand led the Mimamsakas to believe strongly in law of Karma and to the further acceptance of latent impressions of acts done to explain the above phenomena. Acts do not vanish absolutely but leave their impressions on the agent, which when mature give appropriate results. One attains salvation by exhausting the fruits of acts through experiencing them and stopping their further accumulation. This situation is brought about through refraining from the performance of kamya karmas and through avoiding the evil effects by performing the nitya karmas only.
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