Notes on the Mimamsa System as founded by rniini


Mimamsa (or Purva-Mimamsa) school was founded by rniini. Its primary object is to defend and justify Vedic ritualism.

In course of this attempt, it had to find a philosophy supporting the world-view on which ritualism depends.

The authority of the Vedas is the basis of ritualism, and the Mlmamsa formulates the theory that the Vedas are not the works of any person and are, therefore, free from errors that human authors commit.


The Vedas are eternal and self-existing; the written or pronounced Vedas are only their temporary manifestations through particular seers.

For establishing the validity of the Vedas, the Mlmamsa discusses very elaborately the theory of knowledge, the chief object of which is to show that the validity of knowledge is self-evident.

When there are sufficient conditions, knowledge arises. When the senses are sound, objects are present to them and when other auxiliary conditions also prevail, there is perception. When there are suffcient data, there is inference.

When we read a book on geography, we have knowledge of the lands described, through authority. In each of these cases, the knowledge that arise claims to be true and we accept it without further argument.


If there is any cause for doubt, then knowledge does not arise at all, because belief is absent. Similarly, by reading the Veclas we have at once knowledge and belief in what they say.

The validity of Vedic knowledge is self-evident like that of every other knowledge. If any doubts arise, they are removed with the help of Mlmamsa arguments; and the obstacles being removed, the Vedas themselves reveal their contents to the reader. The authority of the Vedas thus becomes unquestionable.

What the Vedas command one to perform is right (dharma). What they forbid is wrong. Duty consists in doing what is right and desisting from forbidden acts. Duty must be done in the spirit of duty.

The rituals enjoined by the Vedas should be performed not with the hope of any reward but just because they are so enjoined.


The disinterested performance of the obligatory rites, which is possible only through knowledge and self-control, gradually destroys the karmas and brings about liberation after death.

The state of liberation is conceived in the early Mimarhsa as one of unalloyed bliss or heaven. But the later Mlmamsa conceives liberation only negatively as the cessation of birth and, therefore, of all pains.

The soul must be admitted as an immortal eternal substance, for if the soul perished on death, the Vedic injunctions that certain rites should be performed for the attainment of heaven would be meaningless.

The Mimamsa writers also adduce independent arguments, like the Jainas, to prove the existence of the immortal soul, and refute the materialistic view that it is nothing other than the body.


But they do not admit consciousness as intrinsic to the soul. Consciousness arises in it only when it is associated with the body and then also only when an object is presented to the organs of knowledge (the five outer senses and the inner organ called manas).

The liberated soul, which is disembodied, has no actual consciousness, though it has the potentiality for it.

The soul in the body has different kinds of knowledge. One school of the Mimariisa founded by Prabhakara admits five different sources of knowledge (pramanas), namely, perception (pratyaksa), inference (anumana), comparison (upamana), testimony (sabda) and postulation (arthapatti).

The first four are admitted as in the Nyaya system. There is, however, one notable difference regarding comparison.


According to the Mimarhsa, knowledge by comparison arises in a case like the following: a man who has seen a monkey goes to a forest, sees an ape and judges, ‘this ape is like a monkey’.

From this judgment of perception he passes to the judgment ‘the monkey I saw before is like this ape’. This last knowledge is obtained by comparison and not by perception, because the monkey is not present then.

Knowledge by postulation arises when we have to postulate something as the only explanation of an apparent conflict. When we find that a man does not eat anything in the day, but increases m weight, we postulate that he must be eating at night.

When a man is known to be alive and yet not found at home, it is known by postulation that he exists somewhere out. Another school of the Mimamsa founded by Kumarila Bhatta admits another source of valid cognition, in addition to the above five.

This sixth pramana is called non-cognition (anupalabdhi). It is pointed out that when on entering a room, and looking round one says, ‘There is no fan in this room,’ the non-existence of the fan cannot be said to be known by perception.

Perception of an object arises when our sense is stimulated by the object, and non-existence, which is the object known here, cannot be admitted to stimulate sense.

Such knowledge of non-existence takes place by non-cognition. We judge the absence of the fan not because other things are perceived, but because the fan is not perceived.

The Mimamsa believes in the reality of the physical world on the strength of perception. It is, therefore, realistic. It believes, as we have seen, in the reality of souls, as well. But it does not believe that there is a supreme soul, or God who has created the world.

It does not hold like other orthodox systems that there is a cycle of creation and dissolution. The world has always been as it is. It has neither a beginning nor an end. The world’s objects are formed out of matter in accordance with the karmas of the souls.

The law of karma is an autonomous natural and moral law that rules the world. The Mlmariisa also admits that when any man performs any ritual, there arises in his soul potency (apurva) which produces in future the fruit of the action at an opportune moment.

On account of this potency generated in the soul by rites performed here, one can enjoy their fruits hereafter.

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