Narach Philosophy

THE BASIS OF PURVA MIMAMSA


We have explained that the Purva Mimamsa is a connecting link between all systems of thought which accept the necessity of performing actions as a sacrifice, and so its principal ideas relating to God, Nature, individual soul, and knowledge and action should correspond to those of all these systems combined.

For instance, Vedanta stands alone in holding that God is the sole supreme creator of the universe, while Yoga, Vaisesika, and Nyaya give to Nature or Prakrti some place in the work of life. The Purva Mimamsa must endorse all these points of view. The idea of the creative part of Nature is the reverse of that of God in each system; and that too must have its place in the Purva Mimamsa. Again, it is Vedanta alone that holds that the individual soul in each creature is the same, whereas the remaining systems hold that the souls are many and different in each being; this must be the point of view of the Purva Mimamsa too. Finally, its ideas relating to knowledge and action must partake of the character of the great systems of thought all except the pure Sankhya; and it must hold with Vedanta that both of them together lead to the final end, and at the same time agree with Yoga, Vaisesika, and Nyaya, that knowledge is to be preferred.

God as in Nyaya: As we have explained, the Nyaya does not deny the existence of God. It holds that he has a small place in the creative work of the universe; and sometimes it believes that he may be regarded as a spectator of the work of Nature or Prakti and so we are told that Jaimini (the author of the Mimamsa Sutras) does not so much deny as ignore him (God). No detail of the Vedic religion requires the assistance of God.

The rewards of sacrifices are not due to any beneficent God. ... There is no reliable evidence to prove the existence of an omniscient being. ... The universe as a whole has neither beginning nor end. We do not see the interference of any divine being in the production of the bodies of men and animals, which owe their existence to their parents. We cannot say that the atoms act under the will of God.

God as in Other Systems: This is obviously the Nyaya idea of God. He has a larger place in Vaisesika and Yoga, while in Vedanta he is regarded as the sole creator of the universe and so we are told in another place that, "Kumarilla (a commentator) criticizes the Nyaya view and declares that the Vedas are composed by God. ... The lacuna in the Purva Mimamsa was so unsatisfactory that the later writers slowly smuggled in God. ... Evidently it was felt very early that the Mimamsa system could not satisfy the thoughtful if it did not ally itself with theism. So, Apadeva and Laugaksi Bhaskara (commentators) declare that if the sacrifice is performed in honour of the supreme Lord, it will lead to the highest good. ... In the Purva Mimamsa the emphasis is on the ethical side. ... God is Righteousness, or dharma. ... The Vedas are the revelation of the mind of God. While the sacrificial works may be the special cause of bliss, God is the general cause".

Nature or Prakrti: The idea of the creative power of Nature or Prakrti is, in all systems, the reverse of that of God. According to Nyaya, Nature is the chief creator of the universe, and God is but a spectator of its work, or has but a small share in it at best. In the Vaisesika God and Nature have an equal share in the creation of life; while Yoga gives a small place to Nature or regards it as a spectator of the work of God, and Vedanta holds that Nature itself is a creation of God, the sole creator of the universe. We should find all these points of view in the Purva Mimamsa; but, as three out of four systems assign an independent place to Nature, this view should be most definitely expressed.

Thus we are told that, "the Mimamsaka theory assumes the reality of objects ... The reality of the external world is the only foundation of experience and life. ... The universe is real and is independent of the mind which perceives it". ... Again, "the Mimamsa declines to accept the belief in the periodic creation and dissolution of all things. The process of becoming and passing away is constant. It is idle to assume that the supreme Lord brings to a stand at one time the potencies of all the souls and then awakens them all when a new creation starts. Prabhakara (a commentator) holds that the universe as a whole has neither beginning nor end. We do not see the interference of any divine being in the production of the bodies of men and animals, which owe their existence to their parents. We cannot say that the atoms act under the will of God nor can we say that there is a divine supervisor of dharma or adharma. ... If the Vedas ... say that God is the creator of the world, no value need be attached to such a statement".

The Individual Soul: The idea of the individual soul in each system corresponds to its idea of God, and so the Purva Mimamsa should comprehend the idea of the individual soul in all the four systems of Philosophy from Nyaya to Vedanta. Following Vedanta we are told that, "the soul is different from the body, eternal and omnipresent. The atman (soul) is consciousness itself. Since all souls are of the nature of consciousness, the Upanishads speak of them as one. ... The existence of the self is inferred through the notion of ‘I’. It is partless ... The Mimamsaka thinkers regard the self as distinct from the body, the senses, and the understanding (Buddhi). Again, following Nyaya and other systems, we are told that, "the Mimamsakas adopt the theory of the plurality of souls to account for the varieties of experiences ... Prabhakara understands by the self something non-intelligent".

Knowledge and Action: As we have pointed out, Nyaya, Vaisesika and Yoga agree that action is necessary, but hold that knowledge is the final end. Vedanta, on the other hand, regards the two but as counterparts of the same reality of life, and so as twin goals. All these points of view should have their place in the Purva Mimamsa. Thus we are told that "Knowledge is a movement brought about by the activity of the self, which results in producing consciousness of objective things. ... It always involves the relation of mind to reality". With regard to action, we are told that, "we infer the presence of the soul from the activities of the bodies, which are inexplicable without such a hypothesis. As my actions are due to my soul, other activities are traced to other souls". From this we see that the soul is said to be characterised by both knowledge and action, and so it is said that, "the self is manifested to us in all cognitions. ... It is the agent, the enjoyer, and is omnipresent".

Then with regard to the final goal of life, we have pointed out that the Purva Mimamsa holds that actions performed as a sacrifice lead to salvation. Thus we are told that, "by a true knowledge of the soul, aided by contentment and self control, one gets rid of his bodily existence. ... Mere knowledge cannot give us freedom from bondage, which can be attained only by the exhaustion of action". Yet the Mimamsakas, "do not regard karma (action) by itself as sufficient for effecting release"... and again, as in Vedanta, Moksa (freedom), conceived "simply as the natural form of the soul", is not regarded as eternal, "Kumarilla comes very near the Advaita (Vedanta) view. He thinks that knowledge is not enough for liberation. He believes that release can be attained through karma (action) combined with jnana (knowledge)".

Thus we see that the Purva Mimamsa deals chiefly with action conceived as a Sacrifice, and its principal philosophical ideas relating to God, Nature, the individual soul, and knowledge, and action as the final goals of life, partake of the character of all systems of thought except the pure Sankhya, and so it may be regarded as a connecting link between them all.

Conclusion: We have shown how the different systems of Hindu Philosophy are each founded on a pair of Vedic gods, representing the five great energies of life made manifest in the tiniest cell as well as the whole universe or Brahmanda. It is these forces of life that have been personified into Gods, who preside over the destinies of the world, and these in their turn are the foundations of the corresponding systems of Philosophy, from Vedanta to the Sankhya, embracing the whole range of thought from pure belief in God to its utter negation. Vedanta, holding that God is the sole supreme Creator of the universe, is purely monistic in thought; Yoga, by assigning a small place to Nature or Prakrti, may be said to be a qualified form of monism; Vaisesika, holding that God and Nature are equal partners in the work of creation, is dualistic in creed; Nyaya, regarding God as a mere spectator of Nature's work, may be said to be agnostic of God; while Sankhya, having no place for him in its system, is more or less atheistical in character. The last may, however, be regarded as monistic in respect of the creative power of Nature or Prakrti, as Vedanta is in respect of God. In the same way Nyaya is a qualified form of monism in connection with Nature, as Yoga is in connection with God; while Vaisesika is dualistic in relation to both. This exhausts the whole range of human belief, and its connection with the different systems of Philosophy may be described as follows:

Vedanta, Yoga, Vaisesika, Nyaya, Sankhya: Monism, Qualified Dualism, Agnosticism, Atheism, Monism.

We see the significance of this when we come to examine the different systems of Religion associated with the corresponding systems of Philosophy, for both are linked together and form part of one great whole which is the Universe. This is the subject matter of all ancient Sacred Books of the Hindus, and this, as we shall see, is the Story of the Mahabharata.