Mimamsa interpretation of Vedic Injunctions (Vidhi)

by Shreebas Debnath | 2018 | 68,763 words

This page relates ‘Threefold Vedic Subject-matter’ 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 4.6 - Threefold Vedic Subject-matter

The whole subjects-matter of Veda can be divided into three groups, viz.,

  1. those contributing to the sacrifice (kratvartha),
  2. those contributing to human needs (puruṣārtha) and
  3. those doing both (ubhayārtha).

Among these, the fore-sacrifices etc. contribute only to the sacrifice. The result of sacrifice and its means are prescribed for human needs. For example, heaven is regarded as result and it is prescribed for human being. Similarly, the means for attaining results—Agnihotra, Jyoiṣṭoma etc. are said to be performed by human beings. But curd etc. serve the dual purpose.

Because of [the following direction it contributes to the sacrifice],—

dadhnā juhuyāt

(He should perform homa with curd).

On the other hand, on account of [the following injunction, the result has been enjoined],—

dadhnedriya-kāmasya juhuyāt

(For a person desiring [vigorous] organs [the priest] should perform homa with curd.)
   (Tai. Br. [=Taittirīya-brāhmaṇa?] II. 1. V. 5, adapted)

So, curd becomes a matter enjoined for a human being.

The sacrifice becomes the incentive factor (prayojaka) in those which contribute to the sacrifice, while the results become the incentive factor in those which contribute to human needs. By an incentive is meant that which leads to its performance. The thing for which an injunction causes something to be done, is an incentive to that. The injunction regarding the new-and full-moon sacrifices causes these sacrifices to be performed for heaven etc. So, the heaven etc. are incentives to the new-and full-moon sacrifices. The injunction regarding the fore-sacrifices causes these sacrifices to be performed for the sake of the new-and full-moon sacrifices. So, the new-and full-moon sacrifices are the incentive to fore-sacrifices. Similarly, the injunction regarding the adding of the curd makes adding to be performed for the sake of fresh cheese (āmikṣā) and not for the whey; for if the adding of the curd is performed for the sake of the fresh cheese, the whey (vājina) is automatically produced. So, the fresh cheese is the incentive to the adding of the curd.

In [the following injunction, the tile is prescribed as an accessory to the act of separation of the husks],—

puroḍāśakapālena tuṣān upa vapati

(He should separate the husks with the thin tile used for the cake),

Yet we can not say that this separation is the incentive to the tile, because the tile is mainly used for the sake of the cake and with that tile separation is done. So, the cake is the incentive to the tile.

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