The Mimamsa pays the greatest attention to this source of knowledge, because it has to justify the authority of the Vedas an intelligible sentence yields knowledge except when it is known to be the statement of an unreliable person (anapta- vakya).

This is known as verbal testimony or simply testimony (sabda) or authority. There are two kinds of authority-personal (pauruseya) and impersonal (apauruseya). The first consists in the written or spoken testimony of some person.

The second denotes the authority of the Vedas. Again, authority may either give information as to the existence of objects (siddharthavakya) or give directions for the performance of some action (vidhayaka vakya).

The Mimamsa is interested primarily in the impersonal authority of the Vedas and that again, because the Vedas give directions for performing the sacrificial rites. The Vedas are looked upon as the Book of Commandments; and therein lays their value.


The Mimamsa even holds that as the sole use of the Vedas lies in directing rituals, any part of them which does not contain such direction but gives information about the existence of anything is useless.

Unless it can be shown at least to serve the purpose of persuading persons to follow the injunctions for performing rituals.

The attempt is constantly made, therefore, to show all existential sentences (regarding the soul, immortality, etc.) as indirectly connected with some commandment, by way of persuading people to perform some ritual or dissuading them from forbidden activity.

This attitude of the MTmamsa reminds us of modern Pragmatism which holds that every type of knowledge ordinary, scientific or philosophical is valuable only in so far as it leads to some practical activity.


The Mimamsa philosophy may be called ritualistic Pragmatism, for according to it the value of Vedic knowledge is for ritualistic activity.

According to most of the pro-Vedic schools, the authority of the Vedas lies in their being the words of God. But the Mimamsa hich does not believe in any Creator or Destroyer of the world, believes that the Vedas, like the world, are eternal.

They are not the work of any person, human or divine. Hence the authority of the Vedas is said to be impersonal. Elaborate arguments are advanced to support this view.

If the Vedas had any author, his name would have been known and remembered; for, the Vedic lore has been passed down by an unbroken series of successive generations of teachers and learners from unknown antiquity.


But no such name is remembered. Even those (among the ancient Indian thinkers) who believe that the Vedas are not eternal, but produced, are not unanimous as to their origin. Some ascribe them to God, some to Hiranyagarbha, some to Prajapati.

The fact is that they think vaguely, on the analogy of ordinary books, that the Vedas also must have some author, but do not know precisely who the author is. The names of certain persons are of course cited along with the Vedic hymns.

But they are the seers (rsis) to whom the hymns were revealed, or the expositors or the founders of the different Vedic shools (sampradayas). So the Vedas are not the works of any person.

But are not the Vedas composed of words and are not words produced and non-eternal? In reply to this question, the Mimamsakas propound the theory that word (sabdas) are not really the perceived sounds (dhvanis).


The sounds produced by lhe speaker and perceived by the hearer are only the revealer of the words which are not themselves produced.

Words are really the letters which are part less and uncaused alerter, like is pronounced (and revealed) by different persons at different Places and times in different ways.

Though these letter-sounds vary, we recognise that the same letter is pronounced by all of them.

This identity of the letter shows that it is not produced at any time and place, but transcends them. So the words as letters may be regarded as eternal, that is, as having existence but being uncaused.


Another argument in support of the theory that the Vedas are not the works of any person is that they enjoin some ritual duties and declare that fruits (like attainment of heaven) depend on how devotedly the rituals have been performed.

The connection between the actions and such fruits is not such as can be said to have been observed by any person (like the connection between the taking of a prescribed medicine and the cure of a disease).

So no person can be said to be the author of the Vedas. It is also not reasonable to hold that the author may be a cunning deceiver (as the Carvakas suggest) for had it been so, no one would care to study such deceptive works and hand them down to posterity.

The infallibility of the authority of the Vedas rests on the fact that they are not vitiated by any defects to which the work of imperfect persons is subject.


But in addition to the impersonal Vedic authority, the testimony of a reliable person (apta) also is accepted by the Bhattas” as a valid source of knowledge.

There, however, a special value is attached to Vedic authority, because the knowledge of the commandments (dharma) which we have from it is not to be obtained from any other source, such as perception and inference.

While the knowledge that personal authority may impart to us can be sometimes obtained otherwise by perception, inference, etc. and is itself based on such previous knowledge.

The knowledge derived from the Vedas is neither obtainable otherwise nor dependent on any previous knowledge, the Vedas being eternal.

But the Prabhakaras, like the Vaisesikas, hold that the statement of a non-Vedic authority yields knowledge through inference based on the reliability of the authority.

In reply to those who try to reduce all knowledge derived from testimony to inference on the ground that the validity of such knowledge is ascertained by inference based on the reliability of authority, the Mimamsa makes an important reply.

It asserts that the validity of every knowledge is assured by the conditions which generate that knowledge, so that the knowledge imparted by authority, like every other knowledge, carries with itself such assurance of its own truth. We shall see later on the full reasons in support of this view.