Mimamsa interpretation of Vedic Injunctions (Vidhi)

by Shreebas Debnath | 2018 | 68,763 words

This page relates ‘Recognition of Vidhi’ 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 2.1 - Recognition of Vidhi

Now there arises a vital question: how is one to identify an injunction.

In this regard the commentator Śabara quotes a verse—

kuryāt kriyeta kartabyaṃ bhavet syād iti pañcamam |
etat syāt sarvavedeṣa niyataṃ vidhilakṣaṇam ||”[1]

It means the fixed signs of injunction are the words ‘one shall do’, (kuryāt), ‘it should be done’ (kriyeta), ‘it ought to be done’ (kartavyam). ‘it should be so’ (bhavet), and ‘it ought to be so’ (syad). From this verse it is clear that an injunction is ordinarily construed in the optative form (called Vidhiliṅ in Sanskrit) and the present tense is not ordinarily allowed here. But sometimes an injunction may be inferred even from a text having the present tense. For example, ‘dadhnā juhoti’ (He should sacrifice with curd.) this injunction can be mentioned. Here the present tense is transformed in the optative mood for the proper understanding of the injunction. Otherwise, the intended meaning of this vedic sentence can not be expressed. So, the Mīmāṃsakas have taken resort to this theory of transformation of personal suffixes. This theory is supported by Kṛṣṇayajvakovida in his ‘Mīmāṃsāparibhāsā’. According to him though the liṅ suffix is not heard in the sentence denoting upāṃśuyāga (a sacrifice in which the priest offers oblations uttering sacred texts in a very low voice) occurring on the full-moon day in the case of the new-moon (Darśa) and full-moon (Pūrṇamāsa) sacrifices, yet ‘yajati’ can be transformed into ‘yajeta’ for making the sentence into an injunctive one. So, he says, “nanu upāṃśuyāgavākye yajeḥ śravanepi vidhipratyayaliṅāder abhāvāt kathaṃ vidhāyakatvam iti cet, maivam yajati ityasya yajeta iti vipariṇāmena vidhāyakat-vasaṃbhavāt. evaṃvrīhīn prokṣati” “samidho yajatiityādau api vipariṇāmo bodhyaḥ”. This transformation is supported by Pāṇini in the formula ‘vyatyayo bahulam’.[2]

Another solution given by him is admitting the form ‘yajati’ in the form of let suffix.[3] Here the kāśikā authored by Jayāditya and Vāmana explains that the let suffix can be found as an alternative suffix in place of liṅ suffix expressing the sense of potential mood etc. in the case of vedic literature. The Vritti is as follows—

chandasi anyatarasyam iti vartate | liṅgarthe = yatra liṅ vidhīyate vidhyādir hetuhetumator liṅ ityevam ādis tatra, chandasi viṣaye’nyatarasyāṃ let pratyayo bhavati. | joṣiṣat (Ṛgveda–2.35.1) | tāriṣat (Ṛgveda–1.25.12) | mandiṣat Netā Indro neṣat (Śāṅkhāyana Śrautasūtra–7.9.1) | takṣiṣat | patāti vidyut (Ṛgveda–7.25.1) | prajāpatir udadhiṃ cyāvayāti
     (Taittirīyasaṃhitā– |”

Footnotes and references:


Śabara on Mīmāṃsāsūtra 4.3.3




Aṣṭādhyāyī–3.4.7 (‘Liṅarthe let’).

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