[Advaita-l] A Brief Introduction to pUrva mImAmsA - 8 (Miscellaneous Topics, Conclusion)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 17 00:11:35 CST 2006

This will be the last posting in the series on pUrva mImAmsA (PM), and will
consider various miscellaneous topics that are important in PM. Some PM
teachings will also be compared with those of advaita VedAnta and a few other

Since the postings ran to many pages, one might be tempted to think of this as
an extensive discussion on PM and question the word "brief" in the subject
line. Rest assured that PM is an ocean of literature much vaster than advaita
VedAnta, and this series did not even touch the tip of an iceberg on the ocean.
Jaimini's PUrva MImAmsA sUtras (JPMS) has a total of 12 chapters with over 5000
sUtras (this series did not so much as cover the first chapter fully), while
the Brahma sUtra only contains 4 chapters with less than 600 sUtras.

The importance of JPMS 1.1.5 cannot be overemphasized. KumArila devotes more
than twice the amount of time to this verse than to any other in the JPMS. His
commentary on this verse contains over 18 sections, and provides the important
PM theories on words, self, world, etc. Interestingly, the verse is mentioned
as BAdarAyaNa's teaching.

Basic PM Epistemology

PM concerns itself essentially with Ethics, but has a lot to say regarding
Epistemology that is in stark contrast to the nyAya and Bauddha schools.
Therefore, it is best to study PM with these schools of thought in the
background [1].

The fundamental concern in epistemology is - what constitutes valid knowledge?
We see and hear the objects of the world, and infer certain properties of the
perceived objects. We also use words and meanings to convey our thoughts, and
arrive at conclusions regarding the world and ourselves. We make mistakes in
some of our conclusions, and rectify them when we realize our error. In all of
this, what do we TRULY KNOW? Answering this question becomes especially
problematic because our senses give us sensations that are known to be
undependable at times. For example, viewing at an angle we may see an object as
circular, but it turns out that the object is really elliptic when viewed
closely and directly. Or one might hear a sound and think that there must be an
object causing the sound, but it may actually be a defect in the ear that makes
it hear non-existent sounds. If our senses cannot be trusted in giving us true
knowledge, what knowledge can we trust as being valid, as all knowledge of the
world has been "tainted" by the imprint of our unreliable senses? Appearances
cannot always be trusted, and this needs to be taken into account before
claiming that what we know is indeed true and valid.

A comparison with Western thought [2]: In contemporary Western philosophy of
science, it is a common debate as to how we know that modern science has indeed
given us precise knowledge of the physical world. It was thought for a long
time, upto the beginning of the 20th century, that Newton's laws explained the
mechanics of the physical universe. But that has now been replaced by Quantum
Mechanics, and physicists of the stature of Feynman have declared, "Newton's
laws are false." What was previously thought to be perfectly true is now known
to be false. But how can we now be sure that Quantum Mechanics explains the
world and that it is valid knowledge? Perhaps Quantum Mechanics also is really
only an approximate theory, and a future theory will replace it?

Following are the teachings of the various schools insofar as the process of
arriving at valid knowledge is concerned. First will be taken up nyAya, then
Bauddha, and finally the PM viewpoint regarding the validity of knowledge.

1) nyAya:

prAmANyaM aprAmANyaM cha parataH .
"[Both] validity and invalidity [of any piece of knowledge, require] another
(i.e. corroboration or contradiction)."

The naiyAyika is of the opinion that in order to ascertain whether a particular
piece of knowledge we have is true or false, we need to find either
corroboration or contradiction with some other piece of knowledge.

For example, when a naiyAyika sees a river, he will withhold judgment as to
whether it contains water. He will need to touch the water, check its property
of wetness and verify the boiling point to conclude that it is indeed water!

Another example: the naiyAyika sees the sky as blue. He will not immediately
accept that the sky is blue. He will ask for corroboration. He will observe
that the sky is black at night, orange at sunset, and then conclude that the
sky is not actually blue, but only appears so.

Initial reaction: "I withhold judgment on the sky being blue."
Final conclusion: "The sky is not blue, but only appears so."

The naiyAyika's attitude or approach can be best termed as:
"Excessive testing in an attempt to arrive at certain knowledge".

The naiyAyika's view is in fact one of the prevalent views of modern science -
establishing the validity of any piece of scientific knowledge frequently
requires corroborative evidence [3]. Scientists often demand repeated
experimentation under various conditions in order to establish a scientific
theory. It would not be incorrect to state that the naiyAyika has the attitude
of a scientist.

2) Bauddha:

aprAmANyaM svataH , prAmANyaM parataH .
"Invalidity [of a piece of knowledge] is self-revealed, [but] validity
[requires] another (i.e. corroboration)."

The Bauddha's opinion is that any knowledge should be doubted initially. But in
case of two pieces of knowledge contradicting each other, the invalidity of
both is "obvious".

For example, the Bauddha sees the sky as blue, but will doubt it. He will see
the sky as black at night and orange at sunset, and then say, "What did I tell
you about trusting your perception - the sky is not blue, so it is good that I
doubted the fact!"

Initial reaction: I doubt if the sky is blue.
Final conclusion: Aha! My doubt was justified - the sky is not blue!

The Bauddha's attitude can be best termed as:
"Excessive doubt - will gladly show the invalidity of any knowledge by pointing
to contradictions in different pieces of knowledge. The validity of any
conclusion is again subject to doubt."

The Bauddha is never satisfied with the validity of any knowledge, and always
doubts conclusions. Being a supreme skeptic, he does not arrive at a final
conclusion at all [4].

3) MImAmsA (also accepted by VedAnta):

prAmANyaM svataH , aprAmANyaM parataH .
"Validity [of any piece of knowledge] is self-revealed, invalidity [requires]
another (i.e. contradiction)."

The mImAmsaka's opinion is that ANY KNOWLEDGE BY ITSELF IS PERFECTLY VALID and
acceptable, UNLESS CONTRADICTED by another piece of knowledge. This is in exact
opposition to the Bauddha's position.

For example, the mImAmsaka sees the sky as blue. At that instant:


He does not doubt the knowledge that the sky is blue unless he has a cause for
the doubt. But then, he sees the sky as black at night and orange at sunset,
and so armed with these new cognitions that contradict his preliminary
observation, he says, "I would have accepted the sky as being blue as it was my
first cognition. However, since this is contradicted by other cognitions that
reveal the sky as black or orange, the conclusion is that the sky is not blue,
but has blueness superimposed on it by my perception."

Initial reaction: The sky is blue.
Final conclusion: The sky has blueness superimposed on it by perception [5].

The mImAmsaka differs from the naiyAyika in that for the latter, establishing
any knowledge requires an enormous amount of evaluation and analysis. The
mImAmsaka on the other hand accepts the validity of knowledge as and when he
comes across them, unless there is a good reason to doubt some knowledge (or
because there exists a contradiction between two pieces of knowledge), in which
case thorough analysis becomes necessary.

The mImAmsaka differs from the Bauddha in that for the former, DOUBT REQUIRES A
CAUSE, whereas the latter freely entertains doubt. The mImAmsaka would gladly
doubt matters that are far from obvious, but will not doubt needlessly. If one
begins to doubt all cognitions, it will pose huge obstacles to establishing any
knowledge, which is dangerously close to Epistemological Nihilism. One of the
key problems with the Bauddha's position is that he doesn't really come to any
firm conclusions on any subject - there is no "central thesis" that can be
called "The Final Conclusion of the Bauddha". This kind of "Extreme Skepticism"
is indeed a kind of Epistemological Nihilism [6]. (The Bauddha has a serious
problem in attempting to prove that "The Bauddha scriptures are better than the
Vedas" while at the same time casting doubt on any scripture. How can he be
sure that his own scriptures are correct while claiming that the Vedas are of
doubtful authority?)

Moreover, both the naiyAyika and the Bauddha do not accept one piece of
knowledge without corroboration, but then accept the second (corroborative)
piece of knowledge as validating the first, which is a bit strange. Why do they
not wonder about the validity of the second piece of knowledge and require a
third to validate the second, and proceed ad infinitum? This procedure results
in an infinite regress, each piece of knowledge requiring another for

  A is validated by B, B is validated by C, ... (ad infinitum)

Or in circular reasoning:

  A is validated by B and B is validated by A.

Either way, the validity of the first piece of knowledge is unresolved.

The mImAmsaka settles the matter of validity of a piece of knowledge
immediately unless it contradicts another piece of knowledge, thereby avoiding
the possibility of either infinite regress or circular reasoning [7].

Therefore, in the PM viewpoint:

  A is validated by A.

Hence no cognition requires "external validation" outside of itself.

Of course, there is always the possibility of two pieces of knowledge such
that: A contradicts B. Hence a more complete explanation of validity in the PM
view would be:

  A is validated by A.
  B is validated by B.
  If and only if there is a contradiction between A and B,
  further analysis is necessary.

The mImAmsaka's attitude can be best termed as:
"Clear thinking. Neither given to excessive testing of the perceived objects of
the world, nor excessive doubt regarding their existence. Trusts the validity
of any cognition, unless there is cause to doubt, in which case deeper analysis
is undertaken. Forms firm conclusions as and when required."

An example of the PM method of arriving at conclusions:

The mImAmsaka sees a pond far away during the middle of the day. Will he
conclude that there really is a pond at a certain distance from him? One may
imagine that the mImAmsaka is bound to come to this conclusion as he is always
taken in by first-time appearances, but the mImAmsaka already knows that there
is the possibility of a mirage happening in the middle of the day. Hence, the
mImAmsaka has CAUSE TO DOUBT that there is a river in the distance. Therefore,
the mImAmsaka is armed with these pieces of knowledge:

* There is an appearance of water far away.
* It is possible that there is really water in the distance.
* It is now bright with the sun shining at mid-day.
* There is also the possibility of a mirage happening under these conditions,
which would make the perceived "water" unreal.

MImAmsaka's Conclusion: "I have cause to doubt whether or not there is water in
the distance. I would like to touch the water there to conclude that it really
is water."

It is not that the mImAmsaka does not doubt - he does when there is good cause
for it. Nor is it the case that the mImAmsaka will not ask for corroboration -
he will when there is a need to ascertain.

The mImAmsaka and VedAntin completely agree on this fundamental basis of valid
knowledge in their respective philosophies. Thus they begin their argumentation
with a common ground. For example, both accept the Vedas as svataH-pramANa,
because the Vedas have already been established as dharma. In order to
controvert the Vedas as the basis of dharma, one must provide an alternative
means of knowing dharma that is "better" than the Vedas. Since all the
alternatives for knowing dharma fail on account of their dependence upon
sense-experience, inference, or defective authorship, they're all rejected as
unauthoritative on dharma.

In VedAnta for instance, where the fundamental enquiry is into the nature of
the Self: since prima facie the body is taken to be the Self, one takes it to
be so unless this contradicts another piece of knowledge we have. In this case,
one knows that consciousness is not derivable out of the unconscious elements
constituting the body, and there is a difference between the subject (Self that
perceives) and object (body that is perceived) of perception, and the body is
not cognized during the three states of being - waking, dream and deep sleep
(when the Self is). Therefore, the Self is not the body, but the body is a
superimposition on the Self owing to ignorance (avidyA).

It is commonly believed that advaita VedAnta teaches us the "Unreality of the
world". It is correct only when one adds the caveat, "when the superimposition
on the Self is destroyed".

PM Ontology

PM holds the reality of the objective world, and distinguishes the reality of
the waking state as different from the dream state. Hence PM's ontology is not
to be confused with VedAnta, where only the Self is real.

In the PM viewpoint, the following are accepted as real:

1) Physical world.
2) Embodied self that can cause the body to act, and experiences pleasure/pain.
3) Words and Meanings, and the Vedas (are eternal).
4) Virtue and Vice (dharma and adharma).
5) Hypothetical unseen force that awards the results of moral actions (apUrva).

Note that in PM, the ontology of the physical world is EXPANDED, not
contracted. In other words, PM not only says that the physical world is real,
but adds the eternality of the Vedas, the reality of Self and dharma, and the
proposed reality of apUrva.

This is in contrast to VedAnta, where the ontology is CONTRACTED to include
nothing but the Self.

PM and alternative theories of Ethics

Many incorrectly imagine PM to be merely a "study of rituals", but PM really is
a study of moral action, and correctly qualifies as a school of Ethics.

The best way to determine the standpoint of the PM school is to take a look at
the kind of pUrvapaksha that PM argues against when establishing that the Vedas
are the primary source of knowledge of dharma. In this regard, two commonly
held theories of Ethics are refuted by KumArila [8], thus revealing that PM is
Ethics from the Vedic viewpoint.

1) Theory of Utilitarianism:

This is the most prevalent view that forms the foundation of Ethics for worldly
people. According to this theory, good action is that which results in maximum
pleasure (and minimum pain) for mankind, and evil action is that which results
in maximun pain (and minimum pleasure) for mankind. (A similar doctrine, but
with pleasure and pain pertaining to one's own self exclusively, is called
Hedonism). The very fact that KumArila sees it necessary to refute this theory
of dharma is proof positive that PM is essentially Ethics.

"For those who declare that dharma to be due to 'helping others to happiness'
and adharma to be due to 'causing pain to others', for these people 'japa' and
'wine-drinking' would be neither dharma nor adharma.
And again one who [commits adultery] ... would be incurring a great dharma,
because thereby he would be conferring a great benefit of pleasure to the

According to KumArila, the problem with utilitarianism is that things like
"japa", "wine-drinking", and "adultery" are difficult to classify as dharma or

The problem with this refutation is that truly worldly people would have no
problem in accepting wine-drinking and adultery as "righteous actions". IMHO,
KumArila must have been aware of this, and his refutation only serves to
prevent those within the Vedic tradition from using utilitarian theories of
dharma to justify their actions.

2) Conscience theory:

This is yet another theory of Ethics that is advocated by those who believe
that all humans possess something in their minds that functions as a 'moral
compass', called a 'conscience', by means of which good and evil action can
automatically be discerned. This too is unacceptable to KumArila:

"Then the mlechchhas who have got no qualms of conscience in the doing of any
action, could never be said to be incurring any sin, if your theory [of dharma
depending upon one's conscience] ... were true."

KumArila's point is perfectly valid - there exist people who engage in
unconscionable acts and have no feelings of repentance whatsoever. Can it be
said that these people are always acting righteously?

It is thus a mistake to assume that PM is a study of Vedic rituals alone. The
Vedic way of Ethics is the performance of actions commanded by the Vedas, and
since the Vedas command one to perform rituals, PM studies Vedic rituals. It
does not imply that PM is only about ritualistic procedures. PM is providing a
way of distinguishing right action from wrong action, and should rightly be
called "Vedic Ethics".

PM and the fundamentals of dharma

According to PM, the Vedas are VITAL for knowledge of dharma, which cannot be
obtained through any other means. If someone somewhere is capable of giving a
"scientific" reason for human action to be classified into right and wrong
actions, it would render the Vedas redundant. PM is precisely against such
claims that dharma can be "derived", or a treatise on dharma can be "composed"
using merely sense-experience and inference. KumArila would argue that dharma
cannot be considered even remotely a subject matter of science. Is he correct?
Consider the following statements about science:

1) A society ought to educate children in the sciences.
2) Scientific studies should receive funding from the society.
3) If one scientist publishes another's work as his own, he should be taken to
task for plagiarisation.

It should be noted that the most striking fact about the above statements is
that they are all of the form:


The word "should" indicates the imperative case, and none of the above
statements can be derived by any amount of scientific experimentation and
reasoning. These statements can only be studied as "meta-science" or

For example, science can tell us what will happen if a knife is used to cut a
man's heart in a certain manner, but cannot tell us why that action is "good"
in the context of a skilled cardiac surgeon trying to save a patient's life,
and is "evil" in the context of a murder. This is precisely why in the second
verse itself, PM rejects the view that experience and inference can possibly
give us knowledge of dharma.

Concepts such as "benefit", "usefulness", "justice", etc. are not scientific
terms, and they fall under the purview of a philosophical enquiry called
"ETHICS", and the study of science itself relies upon certain ethical
standards. Actions of scientists such as obtaining society's funds for
scientific research, encouraging students to take up scientific pursuits to
propagate scientific study, ensuring that reports to scientific journals are
honest, are all examples of scientists performing moral actions that do not
have direct scientific justification. Without a firm adherence to ethics by
scientists, science would have collapsed a long time ago, and not be the great
tradition that it is today - even science cannot survive without ethics.

As a matter of fact, some Western philosophers have disagreed with all of the
above statements about science, and argued that they are not strictly true [9].
Take for instance the statement that children ought to receive scientific
instruction. One can easily see that it is of the nature of an obligation
("ought to" indicates it; religious persons would prefer the word "command"),
and if there exists anything like an obligation, it can only be that children
ought to be taught the ways and means of arriving at their obligations and
duties. Therefore, children ought to first and foremost be schooled in Ethics,
and if it so turns out that science is not something they are obligated to
study, the study of science itself may be rejected as inappropriate. In some
sense, Ethics is the ultimate practical enquiry, since it tells people what
course of action is right, what the laws of a society should be, and so on.

The moral dilemma can be thought of as a problem of choice:

You should do X.
You should not do X.
You have a choice in whether or not to do X.

For example, a teacher may tell the students, "You can either study history or
play football for the next hour." Note that the teacher has neither commanded
nor prohibited the studying of history, but has given a third option: CHOICE to
the students. It is only when the element of choice appears that one has to
debate on which course of action to take, and whether that is right or wrong.
It is commonly believed that inanimate objects do not possess choice, for we do
not imagine water "choosing to flow as a river", or an apple "deciding to fall
off a tree". But there is a general belief that human beings possess choice in
their actions that comes with the capacity to reason and act, and so are
accountable for what they do.

Logic and reasoning can merely state facts, but cannot say which of these facts
is "better" or which course of action is "right". Consider the following
premise and two "conclusions" that may follow from it:

Premise: There exist mentally retarded people in this world.
"Conclusion" 1: Therefore, the mentally retarded ought to be helped.
"Conclusion" 2: Therefore, the mentally retarded ought to be killed.

Neither "conclusion" follows from the premise. This is because the phrase
"ought to be done" is not derivable by using sense-experience and logic. Hence
taking the "right decision" is not amenable to scientific reasoning alone. This
is the reason that Western philosophy has often insisted on a "moral
imperative" that is generally accepted as valid so that ethical principles can
be derived using the moral imperative as an axiom (e.g. Kant's "Categorical

Certain Classifications in PM

Here are some PM terms that can be further classified into the following [10]:-

1) Vidhis are of three kinds - apUrva vidhis are "New Injunctions" that command
the primary action to be performed. niyama vidhis are "Restrictive Injunctions"
that restrict to a particular case where many alternatives are possible.
ParisaMkhyA vidhis are "Precluding Injunctions" that explain which object is
inapplicable in a certain context.

2) There are four types of arthavAdas - nindA (condemnation), prashaMsA
(glorification), parakR^iti (actions of others), and purAkalpa (past examples).

3) Karma is of two kinds - arthakarma and GuNakarma, the former being primary
actions that produce an unseen force (apUrva), and the latter being secondary
actions that serve as a means of purification.
arthakarmas in turn are of three kinds - nitya (obligatory) karmas that should
be performed daily, naimittika (occasional) karmas that should be performed on
specific occasions, and kAmya (optional) karmas that are done with a particular
object in mind.

4) PramANas or acceptable means of knowledge are six in number - pratyaksha
(sense-experience), anumAna (inference), shabda (verbal testimony), upamAna
(analogy), arthApatti (suggestion or implication), and anupalabdhi
(non-perception). (Jaimini accepts only the first three, but the rest are
accepted by KumArila as also VedAnta.)

Science vs. PM's view of the Vedas

I thought something had to be added on the subject of Vedas and science, since
there is no end to the number of books claiming to tie the two subjects
together. Many of them have even been advertised on this list. I do not believe
the two subjects were ever meant to be linked, and hence the opinions below.

Before trying to read science into the Vedas, one must ask the question - did
the traditional VadIkas ever see the Vedas as "scientific texts"? The answer is
emphatically NO! In fact, such comparisons are actually anti-Vedic, as KumArila
explicitly states that the Vedas are texts for knowledge of dharma, and dharma
cannot be known by sense-experience or inference. Science answers all questions
by experimentation-observation-inference, so there is no way KumArila could
have possibly conceived of the Vedas as a scientific text in the first place.
There is not a single statement by Jaimini and KumArila (or even BAdarAyaNa and
Shankara) defending the scientific validity of the Vedas. The ancients always
regarded the Vedas as being in the territory of pure philosophy, serving as a
means of knowing moral conduct and for removing the ignorance of those whose
moral development is extraordinary.

Most people begin all their philosophical enquiry with an awe of science and
technology, and incorrectly imagine their religious scriptures as teaching
similar ideas. To read science into the Vedas is to ignore the opinions of
those VaidIkas who live by its word. None of the great traditional Vedic
scholars believe that the Vedas are scientific manuals. Most of the people who
make ridiculous claims about "Vedic science" know neither the Vedas nor the
sciences. It is a bad attempt to make a first-rate religious philosophy into a
third-rate pseudo-science.

MImAmsA and VedAnta do accept the validity of science in answering questions
concerning the physical world, but reject the idea that science by itself can
give us answers on two important subjects:

1) Ethics and moral values.
2) Nature of the Self or Consciousness.

Since science cannot shed light on these topics, the MImAmsA-VedAnta teachings
are valid in these domains.

PM and VedAnta

The most serious objections to advaita VedAnta come from PM, and Shankara
devotes more effort to the refutation of PM compared to other viewpoints in the
Brahma sUtra BhAshhya. This is probably due to the fact that PM was the most
well-established among the various schools of Vedic exegesis during Shankara's
time (perhaps even before his time), and posed the strongest objections to
establishing VedAnta. Hence it is important to understand the similarities and
differences between PM and VedAnta.

VedAnta's acceptance of PM:-

1) VedAnta accepts the theory of pramANas in PM. Thus, the basic epistemology
as expounded by PM is shared by VedAnta also.

2) VedAnta regards PM as an authority on matters relating to dharma. If one has
doubts concerning one's dharma or duty, PM alone can resolve the doubts.
Whatever PM says in regard to the question, "What ought to be done?" is the
final conclusion on the subject, even according to VedAnta. The how, why, when
and where of the performance of Vedic rituals such as agnihotra, soma yAga,
etc. are all explained in detail in PM and not in VedAnta.

This is akin to the acceptance of science as authoritative on matters relating
to the physical world. When it comes to questions like, "How does the earth
revolve round the sun?", or "What is the chemical composition of alcohol?", the
answers obtained by science are accepted as authoritative. In the same manner,
all of PM's conclusions and teachings on what constitutes dharma are accepted
as valid by VedAnta.

VedAnta's objections to PM:-

It is not possible to consider all the objections that VedAnta raises against
PM, as that would take up the entire study of VedAnta by itself, but here are
some important points where VedAnta deviates from PM:

1) Interpretation of upanishhadic statements

As mentioned in the fifth posting on this series, PM classifies Vedic
statements into vidhi/nishhedha (injunction/prohibition of action), arthavAda
(praise of action) and mantra (reminder during the performance of action). Note
that according to PM, all Vedic statements are associated with action.
Therefore, the claim of PM amounts to saying that the Vedas are intimately
connected with action - and action *alone*.

VedAnta agrees with the claim of PM that the preliminaty portions of the Vedas
that are known as "Karma KANDa" are connected with action. However, VedAnta
disagrees with PM's claim that the upanishhads, constituting the last portion
of the Vedas known as "GYAna KANDa", are also connected with action.

For example, one of the statements in the chhAndogya upanishhad of the sAma
Veda contains the statement: "tat tvam asi" (That You Are). It is obvious from
the context that the word "tat" refers to Brahman. Can this statement be
understood by PM's method of interpreting Vedic sentences?

The statement "tat tvam asi" cannot be a vidhi or a nishhedha, for it neither
commands nor forbids an action. It cannot be an arthavAda either, for the
statement does not praise an action. Nor can it be a mantra, for there is no
action that is being remembered and no deity being worshipped. If this
statement cannot in any manner be related to action, what can PM say with
regard to this statement? In fact, the statement is a VedAnta VAkya and is
completely outside the scope of PM. The statement speaks of the identity of
Atman and Brahman, and is within the domain of VedAnta. Shankara argues that
once this statement is understood, the Atman is KNOWN to be unrelated to any
action. It is only when the topic of upanishhadic Knowledge of Brahman arises
that PM's limitations of Vedic exegesis become evident.

2) Existence of Ishvara

According to PM, the results of moral action are automatically given by an
unseen, but insentient force called apUrva. PM provides lengthy explanations of
how there are several minor apUrvas created by each individual process of a
yaGYa (the lighting of the sacrificial fire creates a minor apUrva, recital of
certain mantras creates a minor apUrva, etc.), and all these minor apUrvas are
"summed" into a final "effective apUrva" that is the "total unseen force" of a
yaGYa, which automatically awards the fruit of the yaGYa [11].

This is not accepted by VedAnta, for it is impossible for an unitelligent force
to judge the performance of moral actions. Therefore, VedAnta holds that the
results of moral action are awarded by an Omniscient Ishvara [12].

3) Final Goal

In VedAnta, two paths are considered - Karma and GYAna mArgas, with the latter
leading to mukti, while PM does not even recognize a GYAna mArga. In this
context, there is difference between the two schools as to what the final goal
of the Vedas is. VedAnta claims that it is mukti (liberation/salvation),
whereas PM claims that it is svarga (pleasure-filled heaven).

In the PM viewpoint, the Vedic path is [13]:

Birth-> Moral/immoral action-> Death-> Results of Action (svarga/naraka)

VedAnta holds that the effects of Karma are transient, and results in rebirth
of the individual:

Birth-> Moral/immoral action-> Results of Past Action-> Death-> Rebirth
->...(Endless Cycle)

Since it is impossible to break out of the endless cycle of samsAra by means of
Karma, VedAnta teaches that the path leading to liberation is through GYAna,
with Karma performed by one who is yet ineligible to take up sannyAsa. The
emphasis is therefore not on Karma or action, but on *Karma Yoga* or
*performace of moral action with detachment to its results*, which in turn
leads to sannyAsa or renunciation of action, and finally to GYAna and mukti.

Karma Yoga-> sAdhana-chatushhTaya-> sannyAsa-> BrahmaGYAna-> mukti

Hence, the goal of VedAnta is not to attain svarga or heaven, because the
fruits of action are transient, but on breaking free of the vicious cycle of
birth and death and attaining Wisdom that is permanent.

4) Role of scripture

Both PM and VedAnta accept the Vedas and smR^itis as shabda pramANa, but differ
on the true import of the shruti vAkyas. In PM, one *gains* knowledge of dharma
from the Vedas, just as one gains knowledge of music by studying under a
musician. In VedAnta, the shruti vAkyas *remove* ignorance of the Self. It is
not as though knowledge of the Self can be gained from shruti - for the Self is
ever-revealed. But the superimposition of the world on the Self is dissolved by
the shruti vAkyas, and what remains is knowledge of the Self.

KumArila's Birthplace

The entry for "Kumarila" in the Encyclopaedia Britannica reads, "Flourished AD
730 also called  Kumarilla-bhatta, South Indian dialectician, teacher, and
interpreter of Jaimini's Mimamsa-sutras".

There is reason to believe that KumArila was not born in South India:

1) Ganganath Jha writes, "KumArila's reference to Tamil loosely as
AndhradrAviDa is further evidence in favour of general ignorance of the Aryans
about the South" [14]. It is unlikely that Jha would be mistaken on this point.

2) The few times that KumArila refers to Tamil, he calls it "mleccha BhAshhA".
If he were really from South India, he probably would not have called Tamil by
that name.

A PM curiousity

KumArila considers the festival of "Holi" - which he calls "HolAkA" - and
concludes that it is "authoritative and dhArmic conduct" for some peoples of
India! Apparently, a reference to this festival is to be found in Shabara
BhAshhya as well. This festival must therefore be quite ancient.


[1] The entire portion on PM epistemology is from some classes attended under a
mImAmsA scholar. It may not be completely correct, but hopefully much of it is
reliable information.

[2] Thomas Kuhn and Karl Popper are two philosophers who have written on the
philosophy of science, commenting on how Newton's laws were replaced by Quantum
Mechanics. Immanuel Kant is generally credited with the best ideas on
epistemology in Western philosophy. He claimed that there were two worlds to be
considered when discussing knowledge gained from the senses:
Phenomenal world - Created by the mind using sensations. This is the world we
Noumenal world - Reality. We can never know this world (at least not through
the mind).
The above categories of Kant seem suspiciously like MAyA and Brahman of
Shankara, and has been so considered by many comparative philosophers,
including Will Durant and Paul Deussen.

[3] Karl Popper is supposed to have pointed out the infinite regress in the
inductive scientific method in the early 20th century. His famous
"Falsification Hypothesis" states that science can never prove a theory to be
true (validate), but can only prove a theory false (invalidate). This bears a
certain resemblance to the PM viewpoint.

[4] As we are viewing Buddhism through "MImAmsA-tinted glasses", how can we be
sure that this view is accurate? It is hard to say, especially since Buddhism
has been virtually dead in India for centuries now, but here are some websites
that claim that at least one school of Buddhism that has flourished outside
India - Japanese Zen - maintains that words and meanings are "stumbling blocks"
on the way to enlightenment and therefore does not rely on any scripture, which
is opposed to the Vedic tradition where the words and meanings of the Vedas are
greatly revered. Discussions on Buddhism in the light of MImAmsA reveal
something that is to be much appreciated about the PM school - orthodox PM
scholars are not in the least averse to discussing other schools of thought,
and in fact show a keenness to understand them, since contrasting others' views
with one's own clarifies certain philosophical positions. Nowadays, the
standard approach to studying MImAmsA is to compare it with the nyAya and
Bauddha schools, among others.
"Why does Zen sometimes seem like nonsense?
One of the central points of Zen is intuitive understanding. As a result, words
and sentences have no fixed meaning, and logic is often irrelevant. Words have
meaning only in relation to who is using them, who they are talking to, and
what situation they are used in. Zen and poetry have gone hand in hand for
"Zen Buddhism is a distinctive school of Buddhism which places great emphasis
on sitting meditation. Historically, it shows a preference for 'direct' methods
of attaining awakening and a non-reliance on scripture."
"Even though Ch'an talks about "non reliance on words and language," guiding
concepts and views are still very important in the course of your practice.
Even though you should not become attached to words and language, you still
need them to get the message of Buddhadharma. In Ch'an, this idea is called
"borrowing the teachings to awaken the principle." "
"A monk asked Joshu why Bodhidharma came to China. Joshu said, "An oak tree in
the garden." Mumon's comment: Words cannot describe everything. The heart's
message cannot be delivered in words. If one receives words literally, he will
be lost. If he tries to explain with words, he will not attain enlightenment in
this life."

[5] That is, the mind/brain sees the sky as blue, but the sky is not really so
- this conclusion is correct and accepted by modern science, where it is still
a mystery as to how the human brain perceives colors.

[6] This is accepted by Western philosophy as well:
"Extreme skepticism, then, is linked to epistemological nihilism which denies
the possibility of knowledge and truth..."

[7] Book B, page xi.

[8] Book B, page 59.

[9] For example, "Farewell to reason" by Paul Feyerabend. This is an extremely
anti-science book and I don't like to recommend reading it, but it definitely
gives an alternate view of science.

[10] Book B, Introduction.

[11] Book B, pages xv-xvii.

[12] KumArila refutes the idea that an omniscient being can possibly exist.
This is obviously because he is arguing against some Bauddhas who attribute
omniscience to the Buddha, but unfortunately this is also detrimental to
VedAnta which holds the omniscience of the Ishvara. KumArila writes, "...the
possibility of any such extraordinary ability we have already set aside in
course of the refutation of omniscience (of Buddha, vide Slokavartika Sutra 2,
Karika 134 et seq.)." (Book C, page 111)

[13] The mImAmsakas do speculate on the term "Moksha", but they differ
radically from what a VedAntin means by it, for they assume that the perceived
world continutes as real even after Moksha. Jha notes, "Final Deliverance -
This is a name given to the total negation of all Pleasure and Pain; it does
not mean annihilation of the phenomenal universe, but only an annihilation of
the connection of the Self with it." (Book B, page xliii)

[14] Book C, page xvi.

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