Mimamsa interpretation of Vedic Injunctions (Vidhi)

by Shreebas Debnath | 2018 | 68,763 words

This page relates ‘Definition and Classification of Injunction or Vidhi (Introduction)’ of the study on the Mimamsa theory of interpretation of Vedic Injunctions (vidhi). The Mimamsakas (such as Jaimini, Shabara, etc.) and the Mimamsa philosophy emphasizes on the Karmakanda (the ritualistic aspect of the Veda). Accordingly to Mimamsa, a careful study of the Veda is necessary in order to properly understand dharma (religious and spiritual achievement—the ideal of human life).

Chapter 2 - Definition and Classification of Injunction or Vidhi (Introduction)

The Sanskrit word vidhi is in masculine gender. The root dhā takes the prefix vi and the suffix ki to form the word vidhi. The Pāṇinīya-dhātupātha says ‘dudhāñ dhāraṇapoṣaṇayoḥ, dāne ityapeke.’ So, the root dhā means to bear, to nourish or to give something. So, that which bears, or nourishes or gives some vedic principles or orders or laws, is called vidhi or injunction. This is the etymological meaning of the word vidhi.

A vidhi is an injunction which enjoins some material, deity or sacrifices etc. for obtaining some specific result in which causal relationship is unknown to us. This injunction or exhortation is meaningful on account of enjoining a matter and it prescribes something that does not follow (or is not established by) from any other authority or source of knowledge. It indicates an unknown matter or subject. It can not be testified by any other sources of knowledge like perception, inference, comparison etc. Only the verbal testimony (here vedic testimony) is applicable here. According to Laugākṣibhāskara, the author of Arthasaṃgraha that portion or section of the Veda, which makes known, intimates or enjoins a matter not known before (by other means) is injunction.

The enjoined matter has some useful purpose. The commentator of the Pūrva Mīmāṃsā Sūtra, Śabarasvāmin himself discusses in his commentary what Vidhi means. For example, the meaning of the injunction “Agnihotraṃjuhuyāt svargakāmaḥ” (One desirous of attaining heaven should offer the Agnihotra.) is that by the Agnihotra offering one should effect (the attainment of) svarga (heaven). This prescription of performing oblation (homa) is not known by any other authority and this oblation has a beneficial purpose. The auxiliary functions of a sacrificial homa are also established by some other auxiliary injunctions. Thus in the sentence ‘one should offer an oblation with curds’, the offering of curds with regard to the principal Vidhi (i.e. one should offer an Agnihotra [if desirous of heaven]) is prescribed.

Another definition of Vidhi is ‘aprāptaprāpako vidhiḥ.’ It means that a Vidhi is that which puts one in a position which ordinarily he is not apt to get into. So, injunction has a characteristic of obligation. It obliges some religious persons to do something. The following examples will make clear this point. We know very well that every man wants to eat when he feels hunger. If he is given a command, “Eat when you are hungry”, such kind of command does not indicate the necessity of sanction. But if it is said, “Maintain a wife whom one forsakes”, this would urge the doing of something which the man would not do by his own will. So, maintaining of that wife would be aprāpta or a matter which is not obtained. So, this injunction is here very necessary, by which the aprāpta becomes prāpta or obtained. This is the exclusive function or utility of an exhortative sentence. It has a compelling power. By this definition of Vidhi a sanction is necessarily implied. It is to compel someone to perform what he would not otherwise be very likely to perform or execute. This injunction can be found only in the Veda. So, the Veda can be compared to a large mine from where the precious jewels of injunctions can be dug out for the ornamentation of vedic sacrificial rites of the ancient Aryans.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: