Anumana in Indian Philosophy

by Sangita Chakravarty | 2016 | 48,195 words

This page relates ‘Vedic schools (3): The Mimamsa-Vedanta’ of the study on the concept of Anumana (inference) in the Vedic schools of Indian Philosophy. Anumana usually represents the most authentic means of valid knowledge. This paper discusses the traditional philosophical systems such as Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa and Vedanta.

Vedic schools (3): The Mīmāṃsā-Vedānta

Among the Vedic systems of Indian philosophy, the Mīmāṃsā school was founded by Jaimini. It is also called Pūrva Mīmāṃsā or Karma Mīmāṃsā, because it analyses the karmakāṇḍa of Vedas which comes before jñānakāṇḍa. The aim of Mīmāṃsā is the attainment of heaven. The word Mīmāṃsā literally means revered thought and was originally applied to the interpretation of the Vedic rituals which commanded highest reverence. Now, the word is used in the sense of any critical investigation. The basic work of this system is the Mīmāṃsāsūtra of Jaimini, and it is believed to have come into existence during the third century B.C. The treatise written by Śabaraswāmī is considered to be the best elaboration of the text. The author of this work is believed to have lived sometime between the second and the fourth centuries A.D. Śabara swāmī has made a great contribution to the elucidation of the Sūtras. It also serves as the basis of later studies on Pūrva Mīmāṃsā. There are two schools in Mīmāṃsā system, viz., Bhāṭṭa school and Prābhākara school. The Bhāṭṭa school was founded by Kumārila and the Prābhākara school was founded by Prabhākara Miśra. Both the schools admit the validity of knowledge, eternity of the Vedas, eternity of sounds and reject the concept of God as the creator of the world and the composer of the Vedas.

Kumārila wrote several works, viz., (i) Ślokavārttika, (ii) Tantravārttika and (iii) Ṭupṭīkā. The Ślokavārttika was written in the sixth and seventh centuries.

Several commentators had written commentary on Kumārila’s works such as–

  1. Sucaritamiśra, the author of Kāśikā, a commentary on Ślokavārttika;
  2. Pārthasārathi Miśra, the author of Nyāyaratnākara, a commentary on Ślokavārttika;
  3. Someśvara Bhaṭṭa, the author of Nyāyaśuddhā, which is a commentary on Tantravārttika;
  4. Veṅkata Dīkṣita, the author of Vārtikābharaṇa, a commentary on Ṭupṭīkā.

Maṇḍana Miśra, the author of Vidhiviveka and Mīmāṃsānukramaṇī, Vācaspati Miśra, the author of Nyāyakaṇikā are the followers of Kumārila.

Prabhākara Miśra wrote a commentary named Bṛhatī on Śabarabhāṣya. Again, Śālikanātha Miśra wrote a commentary on Bṛhatī named Ṛjuvimalā and Prakaraṇapañcikā. Tradition makes Prabhākara a pupil of Kumārila who nicknamed him as ‘Guru’ on account of his great intellectual powers. Yet another school of Mīmāṃsā was founded by Murāri Miśra. Other popular works written on the Mīmāṃsā system are–Mīmāṃsānyāyaprakāśa of Āpadeva, which is also called Āpadevī, Arthasaṃgraha written by Laugākṣībhāskara, which is based on Āpadeva’s work.

The Mīmāṃsā is a full scale system which deals with the problems regarding metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and theory of value, logic and philosophical method. The Mīmāṃsā system has made an elaborate discussion on the theory of knowledge. Liberation, according to Mīmāṃsā, is not a state of bliss. In it, the self achieves its real nature beyond pleasure and pain. The system is more important from the pragmatic and worldly point of view. It is a source of understanding for various aspects of Vedic religion–the law, morality, ritualism, heaven and hell, worldly duties etc. It is valuable as a guide to ceremonials and rituals of Hindu Vedic religion.

The Vedānta system of Indian philosophy implies the philosophy of the Upaniṣads since they are the basic writings of Vedānta philosophy. The Vedānta philosophy is known as Uttara Mīmāṃsā . Of all the systems, the Vedānta especially as interpreted by Śaṃkara, has exerted the greatest influence on Indian life and it still persists in some form in different parts of India. It is Śaṃkara who gave the system its characteristic shape and form. The word ‘Vedānta’ literally means “end of the Vedas”. Traditionally the literature forming the foundation of the Vedānta is classified into three prasthānas. These are–(i) the Śrutiprasthāna; (ii) the Smṛtiprasthāna; (iii) the Vedānta philosophy, the ultimate and absolute truth is self which is one though appearing as many in different individuals.

The main commentators who wrote the commentaries on Brahmasūtra are–

  1. Śaṃkara;
  2. Rāmānuja;
  3. Madhva;
  4. Nimbārka;
  5. Bhāskara;
  6. Vallabha;
  7. Baladeva;
  8. Nilakanṭha;
  9. Yādava-Prakāśa;
  10. Vijñānabhikṣu;
  11. Keśava etc.

The chief schools of the Vedānta system are–

  1. Advaita Vedānta of Śaṃkara;
  2. Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta of Rāmānuja;
  3. Dvaita Vedānta of Madhva;
  4. Śuddhādvaita of Vallabha;
  5. Bhedābhedavāda of Nimbārka;
  6. Aupādhika bhedābhedavāda of Bhāskara.

It has already been stated that the Vedāntasūtra is written by Bādarāyana. This work consists of four chapters. The first chapter, also called samanvaya, deals with the theory of Brahman as the central reality. The second chapter which is called avirodha, meets objections brought against the view of Brahman and criticizes rival theories. The third chapter called sādhanādhyāya, discusses the ways and means of attaining Brahmavidyā. The fourth chapter deals with fruits (phala) of Brahmavidyā. Each four chapters have four parts, which are called pādas, and the sūtras in its part fall into certain groups called adhikaraṇas.

The main idea of the Vedānta philosophy as taught by Śaṃkara school consists in the ultimate and absolute truth as realized in the self, which is one, though appearing in different manifestations. The world also as apart from us the individuals has no reality and has no other truth to show them this self. Śaṃkara denies duality but regards the indeterminate Brahman as the ontological reality and God, the individual souls and the world as phenomenal appearance which have only empirical reality. Rāmānuja identifies Brahman with Īśvara and regards him as the creator, preserver and destroyer of this Universe.

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