Mimamsa interpretation of Vedic Injunctions (Vidhi)

by Shreebas Debnath | 2018 | 68,763 words

This page relates ‘Panini and the meaning of Lin suffix’ 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 2.2 - Pāṇini and the meaning of Liṅ suffix

Now, the meaning of the liṅ suffix and its different uses are being described. Let us take the sentence, “svargakāmo yajeta” (One who desires heaven should perform a sacrifice.). There are two parts in ‘yajeta’. These are the root ‘yaj’ and the suffix ‘ta’. The suffix ‘ta’ is a liṅ suffix which is here used in the sense of potential mood (vidhi). But it is not true that the liṅ suffix is used only to express the potential mood. It is utilised to convey different meanings. These are vidhi (potential mood), nimantraṇa (invitation), āmantraṇa (reception/ addressing), adhīṣṭa (appointing anyone to a post with reverence), saṃpraśna (questioning or courteous enquiry) and prārthana (praying).[1] These are the six shades of the meaning of the optative suffix. The Kāśikā illustrates these six shades by giving six examples. It should be mentioned here that vidhi etc. are treated as the adjectives of the meaning of the liṅ suffix. So, the liṅ suffix is used in the active voice and passive voice both of which are qualified by vidhi etc.

Now the examples can be presented.

kaṭaṃ kuryāt | (vidhi)

‘He should make the mat.’

iha bhavān bhuñjīta | (nimantraṇa)

‘Here you should take food.’

iha bhavān āsīta (āmantraṇa)

‘Here you should sit.’

adhīcchāmo bhavantaṃ Māṇavakaṃ bhavān upanayet | (adhīṣṭa)

‘We wish that you please do the saṃskāra of the thread ceremony to the boy.’

kim nu khalu bho vyākaraṇam adhīyīya? (Saṃpraśna)

‘May I study the Grammar?’

bhavati me prārthanā vyākaraṇam adhīyīya | (Prārthana)

‘I have a request may I study the Grammar?’

These are the six different moods or mannerisms for the use of the optative suffix. Later, the nuances of these meanings seemed to have been lost and the attention was given to the sense of vidhi and the tendency of admitting vidhitva in the remaining five aspects became prominent. For this reason the great Patañjanli raised doubts on the distinction between vidhi and adhīṣta, nimantraṇa and āmantraṇa and so on in Mahābhāṣya on the Paṇinian aphorism ‘icchārthebhyo vibhāṣā vartamāne’ (3.3.160).

Kaiyaṭa comments on this Bhāṣya

“prapañcārthaṃ nyāyavyutpādanārthaṃ vā arthabhedam āśritya bhedena upādānaṃ vidhi-nimantraṇādīnāṃ kṛtam | vidhirupatā hi sarvatra anvayinī vidyate.”

From this comment of Kaiyata it is also clear that in the six shades of meaning mentioned above there is vidhirūpatā. In Grammar vidhi is of two kinds i.e. pravartanā (inciting to action) and nivartanā (preventing from action). The examples of pravartanā are—‘satyaṃ vadet’ (One should speak the truth), ‘priyaṃ brūyāt’ (One should speak sweet words or one should speak sweetly), ‘gurum abhyarcayet’ (One should worship or respect his preceptor or teacher), ‘dīnaṃ dayāṃ kuryāt’ (One should have compassion to the miserable persons), ‘ksudhitāya annaṃ dadyāt’ (One should give food to the hungry) etc.

The examples of nivartanā are ‘na anṛtaṃ vadet’ (One should not tell a lie.), ‘na gurūn nindet’ (One should not blame his preceptors or teachers.), ‘parasvaṃ na apaharet’ (One should not steal the property of others.), ‘krodhaṃ a varjayet’ (One should give up wrath.), ‘ahaṅkāraṃ pariharet’ (One should abandon pride or egotism), ‘ālasyaṃ parityajet’ (One should forgo or relinquish sloth.) etc.

The vidhiliṅ suffix is used in many other cases also besides the six shades mentioned above. The causal relation can be expressd by it.[2]  For example: ‘yadi priyaṃ vadet sarvasya priyo bhabet’ (If you speak sweet words, then you will be dear to everyone). To express ability[3]—‘bhavān khalu bhāraṃ vahet’ (You are able to carry the weight). In using the verb having the meaning of desrie[4]—‘icchāmi bhuñjīta bhavān’ (I wish that you should eat). To express possibility—‘api śirasā giriṃ bhindyat’ (He may possibly break the mountain with his head).

This is a very short description of the uses of vidhiliṅ suffix according to Pāṇini.

Footnotes and references:


Vidhinimantraṇāmantraṇādhīṣṭasaṃpraśnaprārthaneṣu liṅ (3.3.161).


‘Hetuhetumator liṅ’—Asṭādhyāyī—3.3.156


Śaki liṅ ca’—Asṭādhyāyī—3.3.172


Icchārtheṣu liṅlotau’—Asṭādhyāyī—3.3.157

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: