Read this article to learn about Mimamsa – the metaphysics and theory of causation!

In metaphysics, the Mimamsa philosophers are realists and pluralists.

Accord­ing to them, the world is constituted of three types of elements—(1) Body in which the self enjoys the fruits of its actions, (2) Sense organs and motor organs as the means of experiencing pleasure and pain, and (3) external things as objects of enjoyment. Besides the objects of perception, there are many realities, such as heaven, hell, soul, God, etc., which are not subject to perception. The creation is based on karmas. The Mimamsa philosophers, therefore, do not admit any purpose of God in creation.

According to their atomic theory of the creation of the world the atoms are not activated by God as they are held to be in the Vaisesika view. The atoms are constantly activated due to the natural law of karma so that a world is constituted in order that the selves may experience the consequences of their karmas. The world is external.


There is no origination or final destruction of the world. The self is atomic, eternal and imperishable. Besides the nine elements postulated by the Vaisesika philosophers, some Mimamsa philosophers admit darkness and sound also as elements. They also admit the existence of substance, genus, quality, activity and absence.

Theory of Causation:

About causation, the Mimamsa philosophers maintain the theory of energy. Nothing sprouts from the fried seed because the potent energy of the seed is consumed in the process of burning. Fire inheres in the power of burning and light in that of lighting. Had there been no potent energy in the cause, even a burnt seed would have sprouted. This phenomenon can be explained only by the theory of potent energy in the cause. If the potent energy is absent, no effect would be observed. It is because the burnt seed loses such energy, that it does not sprout.

According to the Nyaya view, in the above-mentioned example, the seed does not sprout not because of the absence of potent energy in it, but due to the presence of certain impediments. If these impediments are removed, the cause would produce the effect. In this connection the Mimamsa philosophers point out that even in the Nyaya view, one has to admit the presence of something other than mere cause, namely, the-absence of impediments. They, therefore, argue that instead of admitting the power of causation in the element of absence, it is preferable to accept the presence of potent energy in the cause itself.

Theory of Apurva:

The theory of Apurva in the Mimamsa philosophy has been postulated on the basis of the above-mentioned theory of unseen energy. According to the Mimamsa philosophers, the deeds performed in this world created an unseen force known as Apurva i.e., something which was not there before the performance of deeds. This force, in due course, leads to consequences in the form of diverse experiences. This law of Apurva is a part of the wider law of karma. According to the law of karma, all deeds lead to the accumulation of results.

Nature of self:


The Mimamsa view concerning bondage and liberation of self resembles the views presented by other Indian systems having faith in the Vedas. The Mimamsa philosophy is pluralist. According to it, everybody possess a distinct self. Thus, there are as many selves as bodies. The self is an eternal, imperishable substance.

It does not die with the death of the body but continues to live to reap the fruits of its deeds. According to the Mimamsa philosophers, consciousness is not the nature of self, but an adventitious quality emerging in particular circumstances. In the conditions of deep sleep and liberation, consciousness is not found in the self due to the absence of contract of the sense with the object.

According to Kumarila there is no knowledge of the self as distinct from the knowledge of objects. Self is the object of self-consciousness. In other words, when we concentrate on self we realize ‘I exist’. Prabhakar-however, does not agree with Kumarila in this regard. According to him, the self cannot be the subject and the object of the same knowledge.

The concept of self-consciousness is inadequate, one thing cannot be both the ‘doer’ and deed’ at the same time because the function of the doer and the deed are opposite of each other. Contrary to the view of Kumarila, Prabhakar maintains that in every objective knowledge, self is ap­prehended as ‘doer’. For example, when I look at a pot I say that I am seeing a pot.


Hence there is a consciousness of ‘I’ along with the perception of pot. As against this view, Kumarila points out that if the knowledge of the self accompanies every other knowledge, then the awareness that I am knowing this pot should occur with every objective knowledge. But the knowledge of the self does not always accom­pany objective knowledge.

Sometimes it happens and sometimes it does not. It is, therefore, distinct from objective knowledge. The opposition of the ‘doer’ and the ‘deed’ is merely verbal! Had there been a real opposition between the two, the Vedic statements like know thyself’ and the worldly statement like ‘I know myself’ should have no meaning.

If self is not the object of knowledge, how could the existence of self in the past be remembered? The past self can be an object of memory of only the present self because it is not the knower of the present knowledge. Thus, it is clear that self can be an object of knowledge.

In fact, the views of both, Prabhakar and Kumarila, are true in their own context. They are, however, wrong where they reject the opposite view as totally false. While self is the object of self-consciousness, it is also known in every objective knowledge. This view has been supported by many contemporary philosophers both in the Eastland the West.


Prabhakar and Kumarila also disagree on the question of the knowledge of knowledge. According to Prabhakar, every objective knowledge involves three constituents, viz., the knower, the known and the knowledge. For example, in the knowledge ‘I know this pot’, the knower, ‘I’, the known, ‘pot’ and the knowledge of pot are all present. According to Prabhakar, all these three are known simultaneously.

This is known as threefold knowledge. Thus, while knowledge illuminates the knower and the known, it is also self-illumined. As against this view, Kumarila maintains that just as the fore part of the finger cannot touch itself, similarly knowledge cannot be its own object. According to this view, knowledge cannot be known directly but only through inference based upon indirect aware­ness. A thing is either known or unknown to us. If it is known, it is inferred on tin- basis of the awareness that we know that object.