Mimamsa interpretation of Vedic Injunctions (Vidhi)

by Shreebas Debnath | 2018 | 68,763 words

This page relates ‘Six Proofs of Viniyogavidhi’ 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 4.2 - Six Proofs of Viniyogavidhi

This injunction of application [i.e., Viniyogavidhi (viniyoga-vidhi)] has six means of proof which help this injunction. These proofs are used to ascertain the subordinate activity of a principal rite. These are called:

  1. śruti (direct statement),
  2. liṅga (mark or word meaning),
  3. vākya (sentence or syntactical connection),
  4. prakaraṇa (context or interdependence),
  5. sthāna (position or order) and
  6. samākhyā (name).

(1) Śruti or Direct Statement

The direct statement (śruti) means independent sound. Here the independent sound means the words which express their sense without any intermediate steps such as those that are required by the other means of proof.

One may ask that the word śruti means the Veda and it does not depend on the other proofs to prove its validity or authenticity, for it is self-proof. So, why has a separate definition been given for śruti ? The answer is that among the proofs which are utilized to ascertain the accessoriness of some ritual, only śruti-proof can express the accessoriness independently. To express this purpose, śruti is mentioned separately.

This direct statement is three-fold viz. injunctive (vidhātrī), denotative (abhidhātrī) and applicatory (viniyoktrī). The first consists of the optative and other forms which directly indicate the bhāvanā. The denotative direct statement is the scriptural passage that refers to rice-grains etc. The third one is that word from the mere hearing of which the connection between the subsidiary and principal matter is known.

The viniyoktrī śruti is also of three kinds, namely vibhaktirūpā (of the nature of case-ending), samānābhidhānarūpā (of the nature of expressing more than one entities by the same suffix) and ekapadarupā (of the nature of expressing more than one entities by the same word).

In ‘vrīhibhir yajeta’ (He should sacrifice with rice-grains.) the state of being subordinate of the rice-grains to sacrifice is expressed by the third case-ending.

The sentence (‘vrīhibhir yajeta’) is found in the context of Darśapūrṇamāsa sacrifices. Here the meaning of sacrifice is related as sādhya to the objective urge (ārthībhāvanā) attained by the verbal suffix (ākhyāta). So, it means ‘one should produce sacrifice with rice-grains’. Here sacrifice is uddeśya or target. So, it is principal. The third case-ending used after the word vrīhi expresses the instrumental case. This instrumental case related to vrīhi indicates vidheyatva (the state of being prescribed) because rice-grains have been prescribed for sacrifice. So, rice-grains are subordinate to sacrifice. It should be noticed that the rice-grains become subordinate matters to sacrifice indirectly but not directly; because these become the source (prakṛti) of cake (purodāśa) and thus help the sacrifice as an animal becomes subservient to the sacrifice owing to (its) being the original matter or substance of the oblation in the form of the heart etc.

In the sentence ‘paśunā yajeta’ (One should sacrifice with an animal.) the singular number and masculine gender become subservient to the instrumental case due to the direct statement in one common denotative element. Moreover, the number, expressed by the verbal suffix ‘ta’ becomes subordināte to the creative energy because of the very direct statement in one common denotative element and it becomes subservient to the sacrifice due to the direct statement of one word.

(2) Liṅga or Mark

The power or capacity of a word to express something is called liṅga or mark. So it is said,

sāmarthyaṃ sarvaśabdānāṃ liṅgamity-abhidhiyate

(The power of all words is called liṅga).

This sā marthya is different from name (samākhyā) because sāmarthya is convention itself. The name consists of a word giving its etymological meaning whereas a word having mark consists of the conventional meaning (rūḍhiḥ). Some examples of name are—‘ādhvaryava’, ‘audgātra’, ‘pauroḍāśika’ etc. But ‘gau’, ‘guṇa’, ‘vṛddhi’ etc. are the suitable examples of marking word. In the sentence “barhir devasadanaṃ dāmi” (I cut grass, the seat of the gods.) the word ‘barhis’ is used to express only the meaning of kuśa-grass, though it means ten kinds of darbha-grasses. But the above hymn is to be chanted only at the time of cutting of the kuśa-grass; because the kuśa-grass is main among all kinds of darbha-grasses. So, the ulapa-grass etc. are eliminated here and the above hymn becomes subservient to the cutting of the kuśa-grass.

A Special Note on Liṅga

This liṅga proof is of two kinds—independent of proof expressing general relation and dependent on proof expressing general relation. The knowledge of an action is necessary to perform that action. Because without that knowledge that action can not be performed. The performance of an action means the total performance of all subsidiary rites (preceding and succeeding) and the principal action. Now if any yajamāna (sacrificer) does not have minute knowledge about the actions related to a sacrifice, he will not be able to perform that sacrifiece accurately which will cause a fruitless result. So, firstly he should acquire knowledge, then he will act. So, it is evident that the knowledge of some action is subsidiary to perform that action. To know the relation between these two things, no other proof is necessary. It is independent liṅga.

But in the sentence ‘barhir devasadanaṃ dāmi’ such kind of other proof is necessary to ascertain the relation between the principal and subsidiary rites. This hymn is uttered in the context of Darśapurṇamāsa sacrifices. From the context it is merely known that this hymn is helpful for the Dārśayāga and for the Purnamāsayāga. Having this mere knowledge, one has to know from the power lying in the hymn that by this very hymn the cutting of the kuśa-grass must be performed. Here, one may argue that without the utterance of this hymn, cutting of the kuśa-grass is possible. So, is this utterance necessary? The answer is that the power of this hymn waits for another proof for its application. And that proof is prakaraṇa (context). Otherwise the reading or inclusion of a hymn in a specific context would be redundant and fruitless. Because of this logical irrelevancy, the prakaraṇa proof must be accepted as a helping matter in the application of liṅga. So, the subsidiariness of the hymn for cutting of the kuśa-grass is established from the liṅga proof associated with the prakaraṇa proof.

(3) Vākya or Sentence

Sentence is connected pronunciation of meaningful words. This pronunciation is of two words denoting the subsidiary and principal matters. Here the case-endings are not necessary. If the case-endings are taken as the yardstick in all cases, then a sentence will not have any scope to be judged as a yardstick. Here only one condition is essential and that is the words pronounced together must convey the relationship of subsidiary and principal things. So, all sentences do not have the power of application in a sacrifice.

Some specific sentences have that quality. For example,

yasya parṇamayī juhūr bhavati na sa pāpaṃ ślokaṃ śṛṇoti

(The sacrificer whose ladle is made of the palāśa-tree hears no bad name.)

Here the being made-of-palāśa-wood becomes subservient to the ladle because these two have been uttered together. The word denoting the principal thing does not take the second case-ending and the word expressing the subsidiary thing does not take the third case-ending. Yet there is a connected utterance between then. So, there is a relationship of principal and subsidiary things between them.

It can not be said that the ladle (juhu) can be made of any other wood. Because then the ladle will not lead to the invisible merit (apūrva). So, the verbal understanding of the above sentecne is: ‘One should produce the invisible merit out of ladle by means of its being made-of palāśa wood through the holding of the cut or divided (avatta) oblation in it.’ Moreover, only the ladle called juhū is to be used for holding the cut oblation, not other ladles like sruva, upabhṛd, dhruvā etc. Because only the juhū has that kind of capacity.

This parṇatā is laid down without making any reference to any particular sacrificial work. So it is an anārabhya vidhi (a disconnected or detached injunction) or sāmānyavidhi (a general injuction). This parṇatā (being-made-of-palāśa-wood) is to be applied to only the model (prakṛti) or archetype sacrifices and not to the modifications (vikṛti). Because this characteristic is available in modification by the codakavākya (a directing sentence) ‘prakṛtivat vikṛtiḥ kartavyā’ (The modification should be performed like the model). But if parṇata were applied to modification primarily, it would be repeated by the codakavākya. Repetition is a fallacy. So, though the parṇatā is an anārabhyavidhi, yet it should be construed with the model sacrifice.

(4) Prakaraṇa or Context

Context means mitual expectancy between the principal things and the subsidiary things. For example, in the fore-sacrifices we get the sentence ‘samidho yajati’ (He should sacrifice with Samidh.) Here Samidh is a name of a sacrifice. The verbal understanding of the sentence is: He should produce his desired result by performing the Samidh sacrifice. Here the sacrifice (Samidh) is the instrument for getting result and as an instrument this sacrifice is related to the objective urge (ārthībhāvanā). But a question arises after the verbal understanding: What is to be produced? There is no mention of the result in the sentence. Similarly, in ‘darśapūrṇamāsābyṃ svargakāmo yajeta’ (One desiring heaven should sacrifice with the Darśayāga and the Purṇamāsayāga.) though the result is mentioned but the kathaṃbhāva or the expectancy as to how exactly heaven is to be attained by the new and full moon sacrifices, is not indicated. From this mutual expectancy it is understood that the Samidh sacrifice and others (Tanūnapāt, Barhis, Svāhākāra sacrifices) i.e. the prayajas are the subsidiary ceremonies to the new and full moon sacrifices. Here the maxim named ‘naṣṭāśvadagdha-rathanyaya’ applies. The horses of a man were lost and the chariot of an another person was burnt. The former needs the horses and the latter expects a chariot.

After coming together they provided each other’s deficiency. This is seen in prakaraṇa. Jaimini says,

asaṃyuktaṃ prakaraṇād itikartavyatārthitvāt.”[1]

It means that those sentences which are not related to śruti, liṅga and vākya, will be applied according to prakaraṇa, for the principal action has the expectancy of its procedures. Moreover, each sentence has a purpose and that purpose is expressed by that sentence. Sometimes, a sentence expresses its purpose being united with other sentence. Then they make one single sentence expressing a congregated meaning.

So, the Vārtikakāra Kumārila Bhaṭṭa says–

svārthabodhe samāptānām aṅgāṅgitvādyapekṣayā |
Vākyānām ekavākyatvam punaḥ saṃhatya jāyate ||’.

So, according to context the darsavākya and the samidhādivākyas will express one single purpose i.e. heaven.

There is no mention of result in the prayājavākyas. So, the opponent may say that the result of these sacrifices may be heaven according to the rule ‘sa svargaḥ syāt sarvān prati aviśiṣṭatvāt’ (In the absence of any special result, heaven is regarded as the result.).

The visvajitnyāya applies here. So, the prayajas are not for the new and full moon sacrifices, but they possess their own result. But if this view is accepted, then the next proof sthāna (position) has to be taken as the ascertaining factor in place of prakaraṇa. But sthana is weaker than prakaraṇa. If the purpose is established by a stronger proof, then the weaker proof is not resorted to. So, prakaraṇa plays an important role in application of hymns.

This prakaraṇa has two varieties, namely—

  1. mahāprakaraṇa and
  2. avāntaraprakaraṇa.

(a) Mahāprakaraṇa:

This kind of context is related to the principal objective urge. For example, the fore-sacrifices and others become subservient to new and full moon sacrifices. Sacrifices are of two kinds, the arche-type sacrifice (prakṛtiyāga) and modification sacrifice (vikṛtiyāga). The mahāprakaraṇa is applied only in the arche-type sacrifices, for there is the scope of expectancy of both, but not in the modification. Actually, in case of the arche-type sacrifice, all kinds of subordinate activities are laid down. But this does not happen in case of modification. So, some activities should be borrowed from the orche-type sacrifice in modification by the extended application (atidesa) contained in ‘a modification should be observed like the arche-type’.

For example,

sauryam carum nirvaped brahmavarcasakāmaḥ

(One desiring of the divine glory or splendour resulting from sacred knowledge should cut or seperate sacrificial food for the deity Sun).

Here the procedures have not been mentioned. So, these should be borrowed from its model sacrifice ‘Darśapūrṇamāsā’. The subsidiary actions of the model sacrifice have no expectancy of upakārya (the thing which is helped) when they are borrowed in a derivative sacrifice. Only the derivative sacrifice has the expectancy of upākāraka (the thing which helps something). So, there is no scope of mutual expectancy. For this reason, a mahāprakaraṇa does not work in a modification or derivative sacrifice. Therefore, new subservient activities serve the purpose of the derivative sacrifice through the next proof ‘place’ only.

(b) Avāntaraprakaraṇa:

The avāntaraprakaraṇa or intermediate context is that which is related to the creative urge of a subsidiary function.

For example,

abhikrāmaṃ juhoti

(One should sacrifice by making some steps towards the āhavanīya fire).

This abhikramaṇa (stepping) is a subsidiary function of fore-sacrifices. Because, after the laying down the fore-sacrifies (prayājas) some special, minor actions have also been laid down by the Veda. Abhikramaṇa is one of them. The sādhya of Samids acrifice, Tanūnapāt-sacrifice etc. is helping the principal sacrifice. The sādhana of these fore-sacrifices is the meaning of the root (dhātvartha) and the itikartavyatā is stepping etc. So, here the verbal understanding goes like this. ‘One should help the principal sacrifice by the fore-sacrifices helped by stepping etc.’

In the context of the new moon and full moon sacrifices all subsidiaries like fore-sacrifices, stepping etc. are mentioned. How one is to know that fore-sacrifices are subservient to the new moon and full moon sacrifices and stepping is subservient to fore-sacrifices? It is known from a pair of tongs (sandaṃśa). In the absence of this pair of tongs, all kinds of subsidiaries would be subservient to the principal action. Because there would be no distinction.

Now the question is—what is the pair of tongs? It is the state of being enjoined in between two subsidiaries, which are enjoined after one subsidiary, already enjoined. It is understood in case of stepping near (abhikramaṇa). In the midst of enjoining of the fore-sacrifices, we get three instructions serially regarding bringing of ghee (clarified butter), stepping near and pouring of ghee.

The instructions are—

(a) samānayate juhvām upabhṛtas tejo vā

(He should bring ghee with a ladle from the upabhṛt pot; or lustre),

(b) abhikrāmaṃ juhoti

(He should sacrifice by making steps) and

(c) prayājān iṣṭvā havīṃṣi abhi ghārayati

(He should pour ghee after having performed the fore-sacrifices).

Here stepping occurs in between bringing of ghee and pouring of ghee. So, stepping falls under a pair of tongs. For this reason, stepping is accepted as subsidiary to fore-sacrifices.

One can not argue that there is no kathambhāvākāṃkṣā (the expectancy of procedure) in the creative urge of the subsidiaries. Because it is also an urge. So, it has also the three parts—-sādhya, sādhana and itikartavyatā or kathambhāva. Here the mukhyprakaraṇa (great context) can not be regarded as proof for ascertaining the subservience of stepping to fore-sacrifices. Because mutual expectancy is absent here. The sacrificer (yajamāna) wants to know only how he will help the sacrifice for its completion when he acquires the verbal understanding——‘one should help the sacrifice by Samidh-sacrifice etc.’—out of ‘samidho yajati’ etc. So, this matter differs from great context. And it is regarded as intermediate context.

This context is applicatory of action only. It becomes applicatory of substances and qualities through action. Because only action is related to kathambhāva, not substances and qualities. If it is said, ‘one should cut by the hand with the axe’ and if there is the question, ‘how should he cut?’ then the answer will be, ‘by raising and lowering of the axe’. But the hand is not construed as the procedure. In ‘yajeta svargakāmaḥ’ also the fore-sacrifices, supplementary sacrifices (anuyājas) are construed as procedure. Likewise, stepping, sprinkling of ghee etc. are related to prayājas.

Actually, by śruti proof instructions regarding substances (rice etc.), quality (reddish colour), action (sprinkling), hymn (‘imām agṛbhṇan...’), number (oneness), gender (masculine) are laid down. By liṅga proof only hymn is enjoined (‘syonaṃ te sadanaṃ kṛṇomi’). By vākya (sentence) proof generality (jāti) is enjoined (‘yasya parṇamayī juhūr bhavati’). But by prakaraṇa proof only action is enjoined directly. Indirectly it enjoins substances and quality. This is its speciality.

(5) Sthāna or Position

Position (sthāna) is commonness of place or common location. That is of two kinds viz. commonness of place in the text and commonness of place in the performance. Position and order (krama) denote the same thing. They do not convey different meanings. Commoness of place in the text also is of two varieties viz. text according to number and text in proximity. There is a section in the brā hmaṇa of Veda, namely Kāmyeṣṭikāṇda. In that section some sacrifices have been chronologically mentioned for their results.

There we get such sentences,

aindrāgnam ekādaśakapālaṃ nirvapet

(He should cut or offer the prepared cake in eleven potsherds to Indra and Agni.) and

vaiśvānaraṃ dvādaśakapālaṃ nirvapet

(He should cut or offer the prepared cake in twelve potsherds to Vaiśvānara).

In the saṃhitā text of Veda also, we get some hymns uttered chronologically. These are, ‘indrāgnī rocanā divaḥ’ (Indra and Agni shine in heaven) and “vaiśvānarojījanat’(Vaiśvānara gave birth to). Here the first hymn goes to the Aaindrāgneṣṭiyāga and the second one goes to the vaiśvānareṣṭiyāga owing to commoness of text according to number. Thus the subservience of these hymns is established.

The purposes of the subsidiaries of the modifications, of the subsidiaries which are enjoined not following the subsidiaries of the principal sacrifice and of the subsidiaries which do not come under the area of the pair of tongs are known through text in proximity, as in the case of the āmana sacrifices. There is an injunction in Veda-‘vaiśvadevīṃ sāṃgrahaṇīṃ nirvapet grāmakāmaḥ’. (One who wants to gain village should perform the Sāṃgrahanī sacrifice to Viśvadevas). Sāṃgrahaṇa means, according to Sāyaṇācarya, mental acknowledgement with unanimous support among men. Sāṃgrahaṇī sacrifice (iṣṭi) means in which sacrifice such kind of acknowledgement is seen. This is a modification. Its model is ‘Darśapūrṇamāsa’. In the proximity of the Sāṃgrahaṇī iṣṭi, the sentence. ‘Āmanam asya āmanasya devā iti tisra āhutīr juhoti’ is uttered. Here three Āmana sacrifices are enjoined. But there is no mention of result of these sacrifices. According to ‘Jaiminīyanyāyamālavistara’ the sentence ‘vaiśvadevīṃ....’ expresses the result of Sāṃgrahaṇī iṣṭi only, but not the result of the āmanahomas. The viśvajit nyāya can not be applied here. Actually, this nyāya is applied where an instruction having no result is uttered not in the proximity of an action having result. Such instruction or injuction is uttere far from an action possessing result.

But where an injuction is uttered in the proximity of an action possessing result, the [following maxim is applied]:

phalavatsannidhau aphalaṃ tadaṅgam

(the thing having no result mentioned in the proximity of a fruitful action, becomes subservient to that fruitful action) .

And by this maxim it is regarded as subservient to modification. So, the āmana sacrifices become subservient to Sāṃgrahaṇī sacrifice. Otherwise, the fore-sacrifices, supplementary sacrificial rites (anujājas) etc. would not be subservient to the new moon and full moon sacrifices.

The purpose of sacrificial rites relating to an animal is understood on account of the commonness of place in the performance. These rites are upākaraṇa, paryagnikaraṇa and yūpaniyojana. Upākaraṇa means touching the animal with two vedic stanzas viz. ‘prajāpater jāyamānāḥ’... and ‘idaṃ paśum...’ Paryagnikaraṇa is the waving of burning darbhas three times round the animal, starting from the right side. Yūpaniyojana means fastening of the animal to the sacrificial post.

Now, the question is: ‘For what purpose these rites relating to the animal are performed? In normal Somas acrifices of which Jyotiṣṭama is the model, three animals, known as agnīṣomīya, savanīya and anubandhya, are immolated on three successive days called aupavasathya, sautya and avabhṛtha respectively. The above mentioned rites are performed on the aupavasathya day. On the same day the agnīṣomīya animal is offered i.e. an animal is immolated for the deities Agni and Soma. So, the rites and the agnīṣomīya animal occur in the same place. Therefore, owing to commonness of place in the performance (anuṣṭhānasādeśyāt) the rites become subservient to this agnīṣomīya animal only, not to the savanīya and anubandhya animals. The invisible merit is the result of these rites. It should be mentioned here that the rites relating to the savanīya animal and anubandhya animal must be borrowed from the rites of the agnīṣomīya animal by the rule of atideśa.

(6) Samākhyā or Name

Samākhyā means a word conveying its etymological meaning. This samākhyā or name is of two kinds viz. Vedic and worldly. There is a vedic word ‘hotṛcamasa’ which etymologically means ‘the cup from which the hotṛ drinks’. From this word it is understood that the hotṛ becomes subservient to the eating of the materials of the cup. Again, there is a worldly word ‘ādhvaryava’. It means ‘that which related to the adhvaryu’. So, the adhvaryu becomes subsidiary to the various matters uttered in the Ādhvaryava chapter of the Yajurveda, because of the worldy name ādhvaryava. This ādhvaryava chapter is not related to hotṛ or udgātṛ. This is the purport of the word ‘ādhvaryava’ .

Footnotes and references:



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