Mimamsa interpretation of Vedic Injunctions (Vidhi)

by Shreebas Debnath | 2018 | 68,763 words

This page relates ‘Mimamsaka’s conclusion on the meaning of ‘Lin’’ 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 2.5 - Mīmāṃsaka’s conclusion on the meaning of ‘Liṅ’

The followers of Kumārila Bhaṭṭa acknowledge the śābdī bhāvanā as the meaning of ‘liṅ’. It is a kind of mental activity residing in a person which generates volition in an another person for doing an action. This śābdī bhāvanā is the meaning of the suffixes ‘liṅ’, ‘tavyat ’ etc. Because on hearing these suffixes, the listner realises that the user of liṅ etc. moves him to an action. ‘Iṣṭasādhanatā’ can not be the meaning of ‘liṅ’, because ‘iṣṭasādhanatā’ and ‘vidhi’ (injunction) both can not convey one and the same meaning. Then, in one sentence, both can not be applied. But people use the both in one sentence. For example, “sandhyopāsanaṃ te iṣṭasādhanam tasmāt tat tvaṃ kuru.” (Worshipping at the evening and morning twilight is the means for your desired end; so you do it.)

In the sentences expressing the wordly matters, the śābdī bhāvanā is the intention of the speaker. But the Mīmāṃsakas do not accept any person or God as the author of the Vedas. According to them Vedas are ‘apauruṣeya’ (not composed by any person) and eternal. The sages get the vedic hymns by meditation, austerity etc. So, in vedic setences the liṅ suffix is closely related to words only (śabdaniṣṭha) and for that reason it is called ‘śābdī bhāvanā’. Though it is true that an activity or volition is not produced only from incitement (preraṇā ), yet ‘iṣṭasādhanatā ’ is inferred from this incitement. As the teachers instigates the pupil to fetch a cow, so the pupil assumes that fetching the cow is his ‘iṣṭasādhana’. We get the knowledge of ‘iṣṭasādhanatā’ by this kind of inference. So, ‘vidhi’ does not express this ‘iṣṭasādhanat "’.

Now a question arises: How does one get the knowledge of incitement by liṅ in ‘yajeta’? To explain: In human practice, we see that when a person named ‘A’ directs another person named ‘B’ saying, ‘Bring the cow’, and ‘B’ brings an animal near ‘A’ from a distant place, then a boy named ‘C’ who heard the direction of ‘A’ and witnessed the action performed by ‘B’, realises the meaning of the sentence uttered by ‘A’. But he acquires a collective knowlege. He does not obtain any special knowledge of ‘bringing’ and ‘cow’. After that, ‘A’ orders ‘B’, ‘Bind the cow’ and ‘Bring the horse’, ‘B’ carried the orders into effect. In the second sentence of ‘A’ a new word ‘bind’ has been accepted in place of ‘bring’. This accepting is called ‘āvāpa’ in Sanskrit. So, the boy understands that the meaning of ‘cow’ is ‘an animal having dewlap’. Again, in the third sentence ‘cow’ is omitted and ‘bring’ is used once again. So, ‘C’ realises that the meaning of ‘bringing’ is ‘disjunction from a later place and conjunction to the previous or former place.’ This rejection of word is called ‘udvāpa’ in Sanskrit.

Here it is to be noticed that the boy ‘C’ with a curiosity to know not only realise the meanings of ‘cow’ and ‘bringing’, but he also infers the presence of a volition (pravṛtti) in ‘B’. He is then assured by ‘agreement in presence’ (anvaya) and by ‘agreement in absence’ (vyatireka) that the knowledge inducing the volition in ‘B’ is due to the utterance of ‘A’.

Besides human practice, grammar, lexicon, analogy etc. give the significance of a word. These are the means of śaktigraha. (Understanding the meaning of a word). But none of the above means tells that ‘vidhi’ means ‘a kind of exertion inducing the volition of a person.’ Moreover, there is no connection of a person to Veda. So, from practice (vyavahāra), the knowledge of the vedic sentence is impossible. So, the question is now clear: How does liṅ express the meaning of incitement or prompting?

The answer is given by Āpadeva in his ‘Mīmāṃsānyāyaprakāśa’.

He says, “satyam etat. tathāpi bālas tāvat stanyadānādau svakṛtarodanādijanita-mātṛpravṛtteḥ svābhiprāyarūpapravartanājñāna-janyatvāvadhāraṇāt savidhika-prayojakavākyaśravaṇasamanantara-bhāvinīṃ prayojyavṛddhapravṛttim upalabhya tatkāraṇatvena tasya pravartanājñānam anumimīte.”

(As a baby realises that his mother’s volition to give him her breast-milk when the baby cries for it, is produced by the inducement of his own intention, so also the baby, after few years of experience on human practice, infers that an inducing or inciting sentence of an employer person is the cause of the exertion of an employed person.)

The structure of the inference made by the boy goes like this:

(a) ‘khavyakteḥ gavānayayanapravṛttiḥ’ (pakṣa),
gavānayanaviṣayakapravartanājñānajanyā’ (sādhya),
gavānayanaviṣayakapravṛttitvāt’ (hetu).

(The physical exertion of the person ‘kha’ in bringing a cow is produced from the knowledge of inducement closely related to the bringing of the cow; because that physical exertion is related to the bringing of cow).

Here the invariable co-relation (vyāpti) is:

yā yadviṣayiṇī pravṛttiḥ sā tadviṣayakapravartanājñānajanyā.’

(The effort or exertion is produced by the knowledge of inducement of that object to which the effort or excretion is related.)

Without this knowledge there will be no exertion.

The opponent finds fault in this inference. According to the opponent the invariable co-relation between proban and probandum as stated above can not be established in all examples. The effort for eating is not produced from the knowledge of incitement relating to eating; it is produced by itself. The reason behind this exertion is the knowledge of ‘iṣṭasādhanatā’. The form of this knowledge is: ‘bhojanaṃ madiṣṭasādhanam.’ (Eating is the means for my desired end i.e. nourishment.) So, the previous inference is faulty and invalid.

To solve this question the siddhāntin (one who makes the conclusion) says that a new word ‘parapreritā’ (impelled or promted by other) should be inserted in the above mentioned invariable co-relation. So, its form will be: ‘yā yā parapreritā yadviṣayiṇī pravṛttiḥ sā sā pravartanājñānajanyā.’ (The exertion prompted by other person about some object is produced from the knowlege of inducement.) So, the baby realises that his mother’s exertion to give her breast-milk to him is prompted by other i.e. by him. He makes a deep impression in his soul by watching his mother’s effort again and again. Then as he grows, he understands that the exertion of a person employed at bringing a cow, is prompted by other. He also knows that this inducement is expressed by the optative suffix ‘sip’ or ‘hi’, in ‘ānaya’. Because if this ‘sip’ is rejected (udvāpa) and it is said, ‘sa gām ānayat’ (He brought the cow), then no exertion is perceived there. But when the word ‘ānaya’ is collected (āvāpa), the boy watches that a directed person has excretion. With the help of these two methods, the boy infers inducement from the suffix ‘sip’. Thus he affirms the meaning of ‘vidhi’ in inducement.

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