Mimamsa interpretation of Vedic Injunctions (Vidhi)

by Shreebas Debnath | 2018 | 68,763 words

This page relates ‘Six Means of Proof with Reference to Order’ 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 6.2 - Six Means of Proof with Reference to Order

The subsidiaries of a main rite are to be performed maintaining a particular order. Here order means a particular kind of extension or arrangement, or it takes the form of the state of one thing being first and the other later, or the relation of prior and posterior.

With reference to that order, there are six means of proof. These are named as direct statement (śruti), sense (artha), text (pāṭha), position (sthāna), principal (mukhya) and procedure (pravṛtti). The discussion of these six proofs is also important. It will help us to know the nature of these six proofs and at the same time it will be useful for ascertaining the priority and posteriority of the subsidiary rites. Otherwise, some problems will arise when two or more subsidiaries of equal status will be available for performance. So, in the following pages these proofs are being examined.

(A) Order by Direct Statement

Among the six proofs of order, the direct statement (śruti) is a text which expresses order. The purpose of this statement is to intimate an order i.e. to show that order for which this direct statement is uttered. Some words such as ‘atha’, ‘anantaram’, the ‘ktvāc’ suffix etc. which denote order are used in such statements. Such statements are of two kinds, viz., intimating mere order and intimating things particularized by that order

. For example of statement expressing mere order,

vedaṃ kṛtvā vediṃ karoti

(Having prepared the grass-brush [vedaḥ] [heṇ prepares the altar [vediḥ]).

This sentence does not enjoins the grass-brush, altar etc. Because these things have already been enjoined (prāpta) by another text. Here the ktvāc-suffix has been used to show the posteriority of making altar after the making of the grass-brush. This is the function of this sentence through its terms.

But the sentence, “vaṣaṭkartuḥ prathamabhakṣaḥ” (The first drought [is] for the vaṣat-maker), enjoins a matter i.e., bhakṣaṇa or drinking in the case which is qualified by order. At the first stage of chanting the ‘yājyāmantra’ the word ‘vauṣaṭ’ is uttered by the hotṛ. So, the hotṛ is called the ‘vaṣaṭkartṛ’ (the maker of vauṣaṭ). His first drought is here indicated by the word ‘prathamabhakṣaḥ’. Now, the question is: How does the statement express the matter qualified by order? The purpose of this statement may be fulfilled only through enjoining the state of being the first (prāthamya) to the drought of clarified butter. So, why the draught of clarified butter is also to be enjoined by this very statement? It can be had from another statement also.

The answer of the Mīmāṃsakas is that if it were so, then it would lead to the breaking of the unity of syntactical construction (ekaprasaratā). Then there would arise the fallacy of spliting of sentence (vākyabhedadoṣa). Bhakṣa or draught has not been laid down in any other place of the Veda. So, both ‘prāthamya’ and ‘bhakṣa’ are to be enjoined by the above sentence. Then the sentence, “vaṣaṭkartuḥ prathamabhakṣaḥ’ would really mean “vaṣaṭkartā bhakṣayati, vaṣaṭkartā prathamaṃ bhakṣayati ca” (The maker of vaṣaṭ drinks, and he drinks first). This leads to vākyabheda or spliting of one sentence into two, which is a fallacy. Not only that, if order (krama) be taken to have been independently laid down here, we shall have to admit that bhakṣa is uddeśya (subject) and prathama is vidheya (predicate). But a karmadhāraya compound is impossible between an uddeśya and a vidheya. If the uddeśya term and the vidheya term are joined to make a compound then the fault ‘avimṛṣṭavidheyāṃśa’ will arise. Actually, both the uddeśya and vidheya denote separate matters. So, there is the absence of power of word of expressing the same meaning (ekārthībhāvalakṣaṇasāmarthyābhāva). For this reason, there is no possibility of compound between a uddeśya and vidheya.

The second chapter of the Mīmāṃsādarśana discusses about the utpattividhi. The difference of the rites and their application have been also discussed in that chapter by Jaimini. The applicatory injunction and subsidiariness of a rite have been judged in the third chapter of that book. The injunction regarding performance of rite is discussed in the fourth chapter. The fifth chapter focuses on the order of functions as after having the knowledge about rites one wants to know the order of those rites.

In the context of ‘Dvādaśāhasatra’ of Veda, there is a sentence,

adhvarjur gṛhapatiṃ dikṣayitvā brahmāṇaṃ dikṣayati

(After initiating the lord of the house or sacrificer the adhvarju should initiate the brahman).

Here initiation of the sacrificer, brahman etc. is enjoined. It is also said in the Veda that,

ye yajamānāste ṛtvijaḥ

(The sacrificers are the ṛtvijs in Satra sacrifice).

Now, the question is: Is there any order in the act of initiation of the sacrificers, udgātṛ etc.? The opponent says that as there is no proof of order, the act of initiation also does not have any order.

Jaimini gives the answer:

śrutilakṣaṇam ānupūrvyaṃ tatpramāṇatvāt[1]

(The definition of śruti is the order of following in succession by virtue of its authority).

It means that the order is expressed by the Veda; as sacrificial rites are based on the Veda, there order is also based on the Veda.

Another doubt regarding the rites is: Is the order of performance of that initiation enjoined or not? The opponent says that rites are enjoined, but order is not enjoined; because order is not of the form of rites. The Mīmaṃsakas say that as curd is enjoined as the qualifier of action and we get the meaning, ‘One should perform a homa in which curd is used as a means’; so also order is realised as the qualifier of rites and we obtain the meaning, ‘One should perform the rite following an order.’

In the commentary we get another explanation of the above mentioned aphorism. Is initiation enjoined in the sentence, ‘adhvarjur gṛhapatim...’ and is order understood by implication (arthāpatti)? Or, Is order enjoined by śruti? This is the doubt here. The opponent claims that by the word ‘dīkṣayet’ here initiation is enjoined; because order is nothing but the meaning of sentence. From the meaning of the sentence order is understood. And this order can not surpass or violate the power of enjoining of the śruti.

The siddhāntins say that as all ṛtvijs are considered as the sacrificers in the Satra sacrifice, so their initiation is also established by the rule of transfer (atideśavidhibalāt). Therefore initiation can not be repeated. Order is not obtained by implication. So, it has to be regulated. And maintaining that order initiation must be performed.

This śruti is strongest among the proofs. As in the case of the six helpers of viniyogavidhi, so in the case of these six pramāṇas helping the determination of order, each preceding pramāṇa is stronger than those that follow. Śruti is stronger than the other proofs because the other proofs determine order by presuming and assuming a suitable śruti or direct statement. They are totally dependent on the śruti proof for determining an order. So, they are weaker than śruti.

Jaimini said:—

karmakoporthaśab-dābhyāṃ śruti-viśeṣād arthaparatvāt ca[2]

(The pāṭhakrama is [set aside] by the arthakrama and śrutikarma by reason of special text and the desired object).

In the description of the Jyotiṣṭoma sacrifice we get the sentence,

aindravāyavaṃ gṛhṇāti, maitrāvaruṇaṃ gṛhṇāti, āśvinaṃ gṛhṇāti

(One should take the cups related to Indra and Vāyu; he should take the cups related to Mitra and Varuṇa; he should take the cups related to Aśvins).

If here we maintain the order according to the text (pāṭhkrama), then āśvinagrahagrahaṇa or taking up of the cup of the Aśvins comes third. Accordingly, we presume a śruti such as. ‘āśvinastṛtīyo gṛhyate’ (The cup relating to the deities Aśvins is taken in the third position). But there is a direct statement viz. ‘āśvino daśamo gṛhyate’ (The cup related to Aśvins is taken in the tenth position). Hence, the tenth position is the proper order for taking the cup related to Aśvins, because śrutikrama is more powerful than pāṭhakrama, which depends on an imaginary śruti for conveying the order.

It may be asked that for what reason the contradiction between śruti and artha has not been shown. The answer is that there is no real contradiction between them.

The Vārtikakāra Kumārila Bhaṭṭa said,

srutyarthayor virodhas tu naivaṃ vacanasambhave |
yathāśrutyeva hi nyāyyam arthasya parikalpanam ||”

Here the word, ‘artha’ means purpose or necessity. So, ‘arthakrama’ means the order which is postulated according to the purpose of rites. That postulation of order is done according to śruti. So, śruti and artha do not have real contradiction. Therefore, the contradiction of śruti with pāṭha has been exemplified.

(B) Order by Sense of Purpose

Where order is made according to the sense of purpose, that is order by, or based or founded on sense. The following is an illustration of this order by sense (arthakrama)—

In the context of Agnihotra sacrifice, there occur the sentences,

agnihotraṃ juhoti

(One should perform homa by Agnihotra.)


yavāguṃ pacati

(One should cook the rice-gruel.)

in this same order. Here a question arises: Which should be performed first, agnihotrahoma or yavāgūpāka ? What will be the order of these two functions? The Mīmāṃsakas help us. They say that the rice-gruel is prepared for its utilisation in the agnihotrahoma. So, rice-gruel must be ready before the agnihotrahoma. Therefore, it is made first, then the oblation is performed. This is the order by sense of purpose. Here the order by text (pāṭhakrama) is not maintained.

This arthakrama is stronger than pāṭhakrama. Because if rites are performed according to the pāṭhakrama, then there will be sublation or annulment (bādha) of the established (kḷpta) purpose and the performance would be for only an invisible purpose. If cooking of the rice-gruel is done after the agnihotrahoma, for which the rice-gruel is prepared, then it will be useless. Then we have to admit that the oblation is done by another material as the rice-gruel can not used in that oblation. It is not then prepared. Not only that, we will have to also accept that the rice-gruel prepared after the oblation and not utilised in that oblation, will create an invisible unique result. But this is against the rule of Mīmāṃsakas—an invisible purpose should not be presumed, when a visible one is possible.’

Mādhavācārya has rightly put his opinion in his ‘Jaiminīyanyāyamālāvistara’—

dravyam antareṇa homāsaṃbhavāt. dravyaniṣpattyai pākasyaiva prāthamikatvāvaśyaṃbhāvatvāt. homadravyatvaṃ ca yavāgvāḥyavāgvā agnihotraṃ juhotiiti tṛtīyayā avagamyate. tasmāt pāṭhakramaṃ bādhitvā arthataḥ kramotra abhyupagantavyaḥ[3]

It means—

“The oblation can not be performed without a substance. For the preparation of that substance or material cooking is necessary first. By the third case-ending in the word ‘yavāgvā’ in the sentence “yavāgvā agnihotraṃ juhoti ” it is known that the rice-gruel is the material which is to be used in the oblation. Therefore, the order by sense of purpose must be acknowledged by violating the order by text.”

It should be mentioned that the word ‘artha’ has several meanings. One of them is purpose. The author of Medinī says—

artho viṣayārthanayadhanakāraṇavastuṣu |
abhidheye ca sabdānāṃ nivṛttau ca prayojane ||”[4]

It means that the word ‘artha’ means matter, object, principle, money, cause, material, meaning of words, cessation and purpose.

One may ask about the order for some cases in which there is no proof of order. In the Yajamānakāṇḍa of the Darśapūrṇamāsa sacrifice there occur some hymns like “vasantam ṛtūnāṃ prīṇāmi ” (I please the spring of seasons). These hymns are called ‘Prayājānumantraṇamantra’. Is there any order of chanting these hymns? This is the question here. The opponent claims that as there is an order of chanting the hymns used in the Upāṃśu sacrifice, here should also be such kind of order. But Jaimini says, “aniyamonyatra[5] (Sometimes it is not governed by any rule). Sometimes hymns are uttered without following any specific order. Because there is no rule for regulating the order. The pāṭhakrama can not be followed here; because there is another order by text in another branch of the Veda. The arthakrama can not also be followed; because if the opposite order is maintained then there does not arise any problem as it appears in the case of rice-gruel to homa. So, in case of ‘Prayājānumantraṇa’, the order depends on the sacrificer’s desire, as there is no regulation of order.

(C) Order by Text

Order by text (pāṭhakrama) is that which is the order of the sentences which intimate certain things. And from that order of the sentences the order of the things conveyed by them, is resorted to. When the vedic sentences are read, they produce the knowledge of things, exactly in that order in which they are mentioned in the text (pāṭha). The performance of the things is also done in accordance with the apprehension or understanding of the meaning of the sentences.

This pāṭhakrama is of two kinds viz. mantra-text and brāhmaṇa-text. The mantra-text is followed in the order of offering in the honour of Agni and Agni-ṣoma on account of the order of their respective presenting (yājyā) and invoking (anuvākyā) verses in the saṃhitā. Actually, āgneya and agnīṣomīya are two of the oblations that form the full-moon sacrifice of the Darśapūrṇamāsa sacrifice. The Taittirīyabrāhmaṇa mentions agnīṣomīya first and āgneya afterwards. But the Taittirīyasaṃhitā mentions the sacrificing and invoking stanzas (yājyānuvākye) of the āgneya oblation first and the yājyānuvākyās of agnīṣomīya afterwards. So, the brāhmaṇapāṭha gives the order as agnīṣoma and āgneya ; but the mantrapāṭha gives the order as āgneya and agnīṣomīya. Now the question is: Which order should be maintained? The answer is as the mantrapāṭha is more powerful than the brāhmaṇapāṭha, so the mantrapāṭha is to be followed. So, the yājyānuvākyās of Agni are to be uttered first and the yājyānuvākyās related to Agni and Soma are to be chanted afterwards. This is the decision of the Mīmāṃsakas here.

The mantrapāṭha is stronger than the brāhmaṇapāṭha because the hymns are closer than the sentences occurring in the brāhmaṇa section of the Veda with reference to performance of sacrificial rites. The sentences of brāhmaṇa fulfill their purpose by informing us—‘this should be done’—this kind of knowledge outside the performance. They have no function at the time of executing. They do not have close relation to performance of sacrifice.

But hymns are directly used (vyāpriyante) at the time of, and during, the performance itself. A performance means various rites having certain order. This order of performance is subject to the remembrance of the rites and matters of a sacrifice. And the order of the remembrance depends on the order of the hymns, wherein these various rites, matters and deities are mentioned. The performance of all rites is done with the recitation of concerned hymns. So, hymns are said to be more closely connected with (antaraṅga) the performance. As a result of this, mantrapāṭha is stronger than brāhmaṇapāṭha.

The brāhmaṇapāṭha is followed in the order of the fore-sacrifices. The order of five fore-sacrifices as follows: ‘samidho yajati ’, ‘tanūnapātaṃ yajati ’, ‘iḍo yajati ’, ‘barhir yajati ’, ‘svāhākāraṃ yajati ’. Now the question is: Is there any order of performing these five fore-sacrifices? The opponent says that as there is no direction of śāstra, so there is not any order.

But Jaimini says,

krameṇa vā niyamyeta kratvekatve tadguṇatvāt ”.[6]

(On the other hand by reason of being subordinate in one sacrifice, [the order of performance] is governed by the order [of reading]).

All fore-sacrifices play their role in the performance of that Darśapūrṇamāsa sacrifice. So, the fore-sacrifices are to be performed according to their reading available in the brāhmaṇa section of the Veda. It should be noticed that in the brāhmaṇa-text, which refers to the prayājas by name, there is neither a gerund ending in ‘tvā’, nor a word like ‘tataḥ’ (after that) or ‘paścat’ (after that) showing the order of these sacrifices. Here ‘arthakrama’ can not be followed as it was done in the case of ‘yavāgūpāka’ and ‘agnihotrahoma’. Because a sacrificer can perform ‘Tanūnapāt’ sacrifice without performing ‘Samidh’ sacrifice first. In these circumstances, the ‘brāhmaṇapāṭha’ itself is considered as the determining factor for the order of performance. Therefore, the order of the five fore-sacrifices is determined to be the same as it is determined in the brāhmaṇa passage.

Though the Taittirīyasaṃhitā (2.6.1) mentions the order of these five fore-sacrifices and that order can be followed here, yet we can say that the order of brāhmaṇapāṭha is followed where there is no mantrapāṭha.

The commentator of ‘Sāravivecinī ’ says,

evaṃ ca yatra karmāṅgabhūto mantraḥ samasti tatra mantrapāṭhakramād eva kramaḥ. yatra ca nāsti, tatra brāhmaṇapāṭhasyāpi agatyā kramabodhakatvam aṅgīkaraṇīyam iti bhāvaḥ.”

It simply means that if mantra is available then the order is to be accepted from the order of mantrapāṭha. But if hymns are not available then the order of the brahmaṇapāṭha is to be accepted; because there is no other way. The opponent raises his finger against the authenticity of pāṭhakrama.

He says that order can not be understood from words or sentence. If a sentence can express its own meaning, then order can be understood from a sentence. But in the ‘Tadbhūtādhikaraṇa’ of Mīmāṃsādarśana (1.1.25) it is established that a sentence can not express its meaning, but the words used in it express the total meaning of a sentence. So, the knowledge of the words is the cause of verbal understanding of a sentence. According to this rule, order is not also understood from a sentence.

Jaimini expresses this view of the opponent in the aphorism—

aśābda iti cet syād vākyaśabdatvāt’.[7]

So, the opponent says that order can not be accepted according to text. Therefore, pāṭhakrama is unauthentic.

This view of the opponent has been refuted by Jaimini. According to him—

arthakṛte vā’numānaṃ syāt kratvekatve parārthatvāt svena tvarthena sambandhas tasmāt svaśabdam ucyeta.”[8]

(On the other hand there is an inference for the sake of the sense in the unity of a sacrifice; by reason of its dependence on another, there is a relationship with its own object; it can therefore be said to be a direct expression).

The opponent said that the pāṭhakrama is not expressed by words because it is not expressed by sentence. This view is illogical. The meaning of a sentence can be understood through having the meaning of the words used in the sentence. So, it is established that though a sentence can not itself express its meaning—it looses that power, yet the meaning of a sentence is not non-verbal (aśābda), because through words it can express its desired meaning. Similarly, the order of meaning of words is also understood from words. Moreover, the meaning of the words which are not understood at the time of reading is also received by the ‘svādhyāyavidhi’. In the same way primarily the order related to the meaning of the words is not received. Yet it is received by the power of ‘svādhyāyavidhi’. It can not be denied that an adhvarju can not perform all the subsidiary rites of a principal rite simultaneously. For this reason, order is automatically implied there. The remembrance of all hymns or injunctions is impossible at a certain point of time. One remembers the hymns or injunctions one after another. So, if there is no cause of hindrances (bādha) of the order obtained by the ‘adhyayanavidhi’, then that order must not be violated. It must be followed. Therefore, the sentences ‘samidho yajati’, ‘tanūnapātaṃ yajati’ etc. are remembered in the order in which they are received at the time of reading according to the ‘svādhyāyavidhi’. In the same order all rites are to be performed at the time of performance. The order received by ‘svādhyāya’ (reading of one’s own branch of Veda) is called the pāṭhakrama.

This paṭhakrama is supported by another reason by Jaimini. He said,

tathā cānyārthadarśanam”.[9]

(And similarly another case is seen).

There is an injunction in Veda

abhicaratā pratilomaṃ hotavyam

(The person practising black magic for malevolent purposes should sacrifice in an opposite way).

This sentence informs us about the pāṭhakrama because it enjoins the opposite procedure of performing a sacrifice. If there is the absence of regular order or natural order then the opposite order of sacrifice can not be enjoined. And this regularity (anulomatā) or irregularity (pratilomatā) is possible only when there is a fixed order of sacrificial rites according to pāṭhakrama. If it were not so, then there would not be any difference between the regular procedure (anulomakrama) and the irregular procedure (pratilomakrama) of sacrifice. So, pāṭhakrama is essential at the time of performance.

(D) Order by Position:

The next proof of order is position. Position means presentation or presenting oneself. There is a special kind of Somayāga named Sādyaska or Sādyaskra.

The Veda declares in this Sādyaska context,

saha paśūm ālabhate

(One should kill [three] animals together [i.e. in immediate consecution]).

This is a modification. So, the rites of the model sacrifice are to be borrowed in this modification. The model sacrifice is Jyotiṣṭoma. In this Jyotiṣṭoma sacrifice three animals viz. agnīṣomīya, savanīya and anubandhya are sacrificed on three successive days. Thus, the agnīṣomīya is offered on the aupavasthya day, the savanīya on the sautya day (on which Soma creeper is pressed and juice is extracted) and the anubandhya on the avabhṛtha day at the end (ante) of the purificatory bath. But in the Sādyaska sacrifice these three animals are to be slaughtered together i.e. on one and the same day. This is to be performed on the sautya day after taking the āsvinagraha (a cup for oblation of soma). It should be mentioned that the Sādyaska sacrifice also lasts for three days. The sautya day of it is choosen for slaughtering of three animals. There are two reasons of choosing this day.

These are:

  1. proximity to the main action i.e. the pressing of soma (pradhānapratyāsatti) and
  2. equality of removal from proper place (that results from such procedure).

The main action in a soma sacrifice is of course the pressing of soma. This is performed on the savanīya day. Therefore, if the three animals are sacrificed on the savanīya day of Sādyaska sacrifice, they would be close to the main action viz. sautā or savana (pressing). So, this day has been choosen for sacrificing of the animals. This is first reason.

The second reason ‘equality of removal from proper place’ (sthānātikrama-sāmya) will be clear from the following diagram:

1. agnīṣomīya — 1. aupavasathya day;
2. savanīya — 2. sautya day;
3. anubandhya — 3. avabhṛtha day.

Now, if three animals are sacrificed on the savanīya day of the Sādyaska sacrifice, then the first and the last animals leave their own place and go savanīya day each taking only one step. As both take only one step each, so their is equality of removal from original place (sthānātikrama-sāmya).

But if aupavasathya day is choosen, then the savanīya animal has to move one step. But the anubhandya animal has to cross two steps. Consequently, their will not be equality of removal.

Similarly, if the avabhṛtha day is choosen for the act of sacrifice, then the agnīṣomīya animal has to cross two steps. But the savanīya animal has to move only one step. Here also will be the absence of equality of removal.

As a result of this, the savanīya day is choosen for sacrifice of three animals in the Sādyaska sacrifice, instead of three successive days as in Jyotiṣṭoma.

Now, the question is: Which of these three animals is to be sacrificed first? The order of sacrificing the animals in the model sacrifice is agnīṣoma, savanīya and anubandhya. Is this order to be maintained in the derivative also?

Here the problem is solved by utilising the sthāna (position) proof. Jaimini declares,


(By position and the original text).

The position proof applies here for considering the order. So, the savanīya animal is to sacrificed first according to position. Because it is present because of proximity. The region of the savanīya animal comes after the taking up of the cup of the Aśvins.

In the arche-type sacrifice the savanīya animal has been enjoined after the taking up of the cup of the Aśvins by the sentence,

āśvinaṃ grahaṃ gṛhītvā trivṛtā yūpaṃ parivīya āgneyaṃ savanīyaṃ paśum upākaroti

(Having taken up the cup of the Aśvins [and] having tied round the sacrificial post with a triple cord [he] leads on or offers [upākṛ] the savanīya animal).

Thus, in Jyotiṣṭoma the region of savanīya is after the taking up of the cup of the Aśvins on the sautya day. In the Sādyaska sacrifice also, when the cup of the Aśvins is taken up, the savanīya animal first presents itself for offer. This presenting of itself after āśvinagrahaṇa by savanīya animal is sthāna or upasthiti for which the savanīya animal comes first and the agnīṣomīya and anubandhya come afterwards.

Out of agnīṣomīya and anubandhya animals, the agnīṣomīya will be offered first and the anubandhya will be sacrificed next. For, there is no reason for abandoning their order.

The Sāravivecinī rightly judged this view like this,

tayor api (agnīṣomīyānubandhyayor api) madhye kasya prathamam anuṣṭhānam iti cintāyāṃ tatra prakṛtidṛṣṭakramasya parityāge pramāṇābhāvena prathamato’gnīṣomīyasya anantaram ānubandhyasya ityeva kramo boddhyavyaḥ.”[11]

It is be remembered that the epithet Sādyaska arises from the fact that everything is performed quickly (sadyaḥ) i.e. on one and the same day. This sacrifice is also called Sādyaskra which is derived from sadyaḥ and the root ‘krī ’ added after it. So, Sādyaskra means a sacrifice which is performed with recently purchased soma. This sacrifice is unmanifest (avyakta) because there is no mention of deity in honour of whom Sādyaskra is to be performed. So, the deities are borrowed to this sacrifice by transfer from the model Jyotiṣṭoma.

(E) Order by Principal

The order of subsidiaries settled according to the order of their principal rites—that is order by or based on principal. There are seven oblations or offering (havis) in the Citrā sacrifice. The Veda says about the articles of offering for the fourth and fifth offerings of those seven oblations, “sārasvatau bhavataḥ” (These two articles of offering would be related to Sarasvatī deity and to Sarasvān deity).

Here the word ‘sarasvantau’ is formed through the ‘ekaśeṣavṛtti ’ giving the meaning:

sarasvati ca sarasvān ca

(The deities Sarasvatī and Sarasvān).

Then the suffix ‘ṣṇa’ is added to it to express the meaning, ‘sarasvantau devate yayoḥ tau’ and to form the word ‘sārasvatau’. It denotes the meaning ‘Two articles of offering which are related to the deities sarasvatī and sarasvān.’

This explanation is supported by the clause:

etad vai daivyaṃ mithunam

(This is for twin deities).

The word ‘mithuna’ means a twin of a female deity and a male deity. In the oblations to those two deities, there are some sacrificial functions like ‘nirvāpa’ (seperating) etc. which are preformed according to the rules transferred from the principal rite. Now the question is: Are these ‘nirvāpa’ etc. to be performed first to the female deity and then to the male deity?

The opponent accepts that as there is no regulator ascertaining the order and ‘śruti ’, ‘artha’, ‘pāṭha’, ‘sthāna’ and ‘pravṛtti’—these proofs do not help us here, so the sacrificer can start the act of nirvāpa etc. according to his own will. He may choose Sarasvatī first or Sarasvān.

But Jaimini makes this conclusion,

mukhyakrameṇa vāṅgānāṃ tadarthatvāt[12]

(The order of the subordinate acts [is governed] by the order of their principal, by reason of their being subservient to it).

The subsidiary rites are performed for the principal rite. They have no separate entity. They help the principal rite to reach its completion. So, there must be proximity between the principal rite and the subservient rites. For maintaining this proximity, the order followed in the principal rite, must also be maintained in the subsidiary rites. For, if the subsidiaries are performed exactly in the same order in which the principal act is performed, then all subsidiaries will be separated from their respective principals by equal interval or distance (vyavadhāna). But if the subservient rites are done in the reverse order (vyutkrama), then some of the subservient rites would have complete want of distance from, or extreme proximity with, their principals, while others would have extreme distance from their principals. And that is improper or illogical, because it would involve (āpatti) the violation or annulment of togetherness, or connectedness or contiguity (sāhitya) of the actions, understood from the injunction of performance. So, the order followed in the principal rite becomes the cause of determining the order of subsidiaries.

In the principal rite of Citra sacrifice oblation is made for Sarasvati first and then offering is performed to Sarasvān. So, in the subsidiary rites like ‘nirvāpa’ etc. also, oblation must be made to Sarasvatī first and then to the deity Sarasvān. This order is called ‘mukhyakrama’. ‘Mukhyakrama’ means ‘mukhya iva kramaḥ’. It really means ‘mukhyānāṃ kramaiva kramaḥ’ (An order like the order of the principal rite). Actually, the word ‘mukhyakrama’ is a ‘Madhyapadalopisamāsa’ and it gives different dissolutions like ‘mukhyanirṇītaḥ kramaḥ’, ‘mukhyaiḥ karmabhir nirṇītaḥ kramaḥ’, ‘mukhyānāṃ karmaṇāṃ krameṇa nirṇitaḥ kramaḥ’ etc. all of which give the meaning ‘the order which is considered by the order of the principal rite’ approximately. Though such a dissolution of compound is incorrect from the grammatical point of view, yet this is accepted to explain the real purport of the word ‘mukhyakrama’.

This ‘mukhyakrama’ is obtained from text. For, it is seen in the ‘Hautrakāṇḍa’ of Veda that the ‘yājyā’ and ‘anuvākyā’ of the female deity Sarasvatī are read by the hymn “pra ṇo devī sarasvatī ” and then the ‘yājyā’ and ‘anuvākyā’ of the male deity Sarasvān are read by the hymn “pīpivāṃsaṃ sarasvataḥ”. Therefore, according to the order of these ‘yājyā’ and ‘anuvākyā’ the sacrifice related to the female deity Sarasvatī is to be performed first and then the sacrifice related to the male deity Sarasvān is to be performed. The subsidiaries of these sacrifices are also to be performed according to this order.

So, Mādhavācārya says in his ‘Jaiminīyanyāyamālavistara’—

mukhyārthatvena dharmāṇāṃ syān mukhyakramataḥ kramaḥ.”

It means, the order of the subsidiary rites will be taken from the order of the principal rite; for the subsidiary rites are performed for the principal rite.

This will be also clear from the following example:

There are two principal rites in the ‘darśa’ sacrifice of the ‘Darśapūrṇa-māsa’ sacrifice. They are ‘āgneya’ sacrifice and ‘aindra’ sacrifice. The ‘āgneya’ oblation is made of a cake prepared in eight potsherds, while the ‘aindra’ oblation is made of curds.

Here the related vedic sentence is:

yadāgneyo’ṣṭākapālo’ māvāsyāyāṃ bhavati, aindraṃ dadhi...”.[13]

Firstly, the ‘āgneya’ oblation is done. Then ‘aindra’ oblation is performed. This is the order. This is fixed according to the ‘yājyā’ and ‘anuvākyā’ hymns. The ‘āgneya’ and ‘aindra’ oblations are offered for the performance of the prayājas (fore-sacrifices). The Veda enjoins, “prayājaśeṣeṇa havīṃṣi abhighārayati ” (One should sprinkle with ghee, remaining after the prayājas are performed, over oblation). This sprinkling is done before the oblations are actually presented. So, abhighāraṇa or sprinkling with ghee is a subordinate rite, which belongs to the ‘āgneya’ and ‘aindra’ oblations. Now the question is: What will be the order of sprinkling with ghee on these two oblations? The ‘mukhya’ proof will help us to get the answer. It tells us that the order of the subsidiary rite abhighāraṇa with reference to the two oblations must be the same as the order of the principal rite viz. āgneyayāga and aindrayāga. Thus, the order of abhighāraṇa is ‘āgneyahavirabhighāraṇa’ and ‘aindradadhyabhigāraṇa’.

If this order is maintained, there becomes equal distance between the principal rite and its subsidiary. But, when a reverse order is followed for sprinkling, ‘āgneyahavirabhighāraṇa’ and ‘āgneyayāga’ would be too close to each other, while ‘āindradadhyabhighāraṇa’ and ‘aindrayāga’ would be too far from each other.

The following diagram will make it clear:

Sprinkling done by ‘mukhyakramaSprinkling done by ‘vyutkrama;
1. Sprinkling over āgneya oblation (aṅga) — 1. Sprinkling over aindradadhi (aṅga);
2. Sprinkling over aindradadhi (aṅga) — 2. Sprinkling over āgneya oblation (aṅga);
3. āgneya sacrifice (pradhāna) — 3. āgneya sacrifice (pradhāna);
4. aindra sacrifice (pradhāna) 4. aindra sacrifice (pradhāna).

It is clear from the above diagram that if sprinkling with ghee over oblation is done according to the ‘mukhyakrama’, then the interval between the principal rite and its subsidiary is just one. In between them, there is only ‘aindradadhyabhighāraṇa’. Similarly, ‘aindrayāga’ and ‘aindradadhya-bhighāraṇa’ are also separated by just ‘āgneyayāga’. If ‘vyutkrama’ is followed, ‘āgneyayāga’ and ‘āgneyahvirabhighāraṇa’ become too close, while ‘aindrayāga’ and ‘aindradadhyabhighāraṇa’ become far away being separated by two viz. ‘āgneyahvirabhighāraṇa’ and ‘āgneyayāga’. Because of this long interval, reverse order is not followed and ‘mukhyakrama’ is followed.

With these two illustrations of two examples it is proved that like other proofs ‘mukhyakrama’ is also important and in some cases we take resort to it.

This mukhyakrama is weaker than pāṭhakrama. What is the cause of this weakness? The knowledge of mukhyakrama is achieved in a delayed or retarded manner. Why there is delay? Because to know the order of the subsidiary rites we have to depend on the knowledge of the pradhānakrama (the order of the principal rite). This pradhānakrama also depends on pāṭhakrama which consists of the ‘yājyā’ and the ‘anuvākyā’ hymns. But what happens in case of pāṭhakrama ? In this order we have to depend only on the ‘svādhyāya’ i.e. one’s own branch of Veda, which he has got traditionally from his family (svakulaparamparāgataśākhārūpaḥ svādhyāyaḥ). So, here only one step is necessary. This will be clear in this following example with illustration.

The Darśapūrṇamāsayāga is performed in the new-moon and full-moon days. There are three main sacrifices in the new-moon day and three are also three main sacrifices in the full-moon day. The three main sacrifices of the full-moon day are āgneyayāga, upāṃśuyāja and agnīṣomīyāga. The order between the āgneyayāga and agnīṣomīyayāga has been discussed according to the pāṭhakrama of their yajyā and anuvākyā.

In between these two sacrifices the upāṃśuyāja should be performed by the injunction,

upāṃśuyājam antarā yajati

(One should sacrifice by the upāṃśuyāja in between).

This is the order of these three main sacrifices. Now, the consideration on the rite named ‘havirnirvāpa’ which is a subsidiary act of these sacrifices is to be done. ‘Nirvāpa’ means “separating the materials like rice etc. which are to be used in the sacrifices”.

Here, the Veda says,

agnaye juṣṭaṃ nirvapāmyagnīṣomābhyām

(I separate the preferable material for the deity Agni and for the deities Agni and Soma together).

So, according to pāṭhakrama the seperation or cutting of the sacrificial material for āgneyayāga and for agnīṣomīyayāga is to be done. Because the separation of clarified butter for the upāṃśuyāja has been read after these two sacrifices. But according to the mukhyakrama this seperation for the upāṃśuyāja is to be performed after the agneyayāga and before the agnīṣomīyayāga. Now, the question is: Which order should be maintained? Which proof out of pāṭha and mukhya should be followed? The answer is that as mukhyakrama depends on the pradhānakrama and pāṭhakrama does not depend on anything, so pāṭhakrama is stronger than the mukhyakrama. Therefore, according to pāṭhakrama after the seperation for the āgneyayāga and agnīṣomīyayāga, the seperation of sacrificial materials for the upāṃśuyāja is to be performed. This is the decision of the Mīmāṃsakas.

Here it can not be denied that if the order by mukhya proof is followed, then there will be equal distance among the three sacrifices i.e. āgneya, upāṃśu and agnīṣomīya.

Then the order becomes like this:

  1. āgneyahavirnirvāpa,
  2. upāṃśuyājājyanirvāpa,
  3. agnīśomīyahavirnirvāpa,
  4. āgneyayāga,
  5. upāṃśuyāga and
  6. agnīṣomīyayāga.

From this order it is clear that in between the āgneyahavirnirvāpa and āgneyayāga, there are two rites i.e. the upāṃśuyājājyanirvāpa and agnīśomīyahavirnirvāpa; in between the upāṃśuyājājyanirvāpa and upāṃśuyāga, there are two rites i.e. the agnīśomīyahavirnirvāpa and āgneyayāga; in between the agnīśomīyahavirnirvāpa and the agnīṣomīyayāga there are also two rites i.e. the āgneyayāga and the upāṃśuyāga.

But if the order by text (pāṭhakrama) is maintained, then there will not be equal distances. Because then the order will be like this:

  1. āgneyahavirnirvāpa,
  2. agnīśomīyahavirnirvāpa,
  3. upāṃśuyājājya-nirvāpa,
  4. āgneyayāga,
  5. upāṃśuyāga and
  6. agnīṣomīyayāga.

Here though the āgneyayāga and upāṃśuyāga are each separated from their respective subsidiaries by two and one rites respectively, but the agnīṣomīyayāga is separated by three rites. So, there is the absence of equal distance accepted and supported by prayogavidhi. Yet the pāṭhakrama is accepted as stronger than the mukhyakrama. There is no deficiency in the comperative strength of pāṭhakrama.

Because Jaimini said,

prakṛtau tu svaśabdatvāt yathākramaṃ pratīyeta[14]

(In the model sacrifice [Darśapūrṇamāsayāga] by reason of the direct authority, the order as laid down should be followed).

The word ‘svaśabdatvāt’ used in the aphorism signifies that the pāṭhakrama is the characteristic of the words expressing the state of being subservient. The purport of Jaimini is that as the previous proof among śruti, liṅga, vākya, prakaraṇa, sthāna and samākhyā is stronger than the later, the previous proof expresses the subsidiariness and the later proof does not get any chance to be utiliesd with reference to its stronger previous proof and its subject is stolen by the previous proof, so also is the case with reference to śruti, artha, pāṭha etc. If the order is expressed and understood by the previous proof of order, then the later proof becomes redundant with reference to its previous stronger proof. But there is a difference between these two groups of proofs. In the proofs of vinyogavidhi, the subject of the later proof is stolen. Here, in case of order of prayogavidhi, the subject of the later proof is sometimes stolen, sometimes the proof becomes redundant because of delay.

The pāṭhakrama directly presents the order. So, we get direct knowledge of order from it. But from mukhyakrama we have to imagine or infer the order. But a direct knowledge is more strong than an inferred knowledge. Therefore, the order is quickly understood by the pāṭhakrama long before the mukhyakrama expresses the order. The mukhyakrama becomes without any subject which causes its redundancy. Pāṭhakrama independently expresses the order. So, the mukhyakrama is weaker than the pāṭhakrama.

(F) Order by Procedure

When several principles are performed together and their indirectly helping subsidiaries (sannipātīni aṅgāni) have to be performed one after another (āvṛttyā), the order of the second and the following things, which is determined by the order of the first performed—that is the order by procedure (pravṛttikrama). Here ‘sannipātīni aṅgāni ’ means ‘sannipatyopa-kārakāṇi aṅgāni ’. The definition of ‘sannipatyopakārakakarman’ has been stated before as the works which are enjoined for the sacrificial material, deity etc.

This order by procedure is applied in the subsidiaries of the animals of Prajāpati. In the Vājapeya sacrifice seventeen animals are necessary. These animals are sacrificed for the deity Prajāpati. The Veda declares, “saptadaśa prājāpatyān paśūn ālabheta” (One should sacrifice seventeen animals to Prajāpati).

There are some subsidiaries related to those animals. These subsidiary rites are:

  1. upākaraṇa (bringing near),
  2. niyojana (tying),
  3. añjana (anointing or smearing with oil, ghee etc.),
  4. paryagnikaraṇa (waving lights around the animal),
  5. saṃjñapana or viśasana (killing) etc.

These rites are performed with regard to all those animals. There are two ways of performing these rites. All these rites can be performed with regard to one animal and then these can be done to the next animal and others. The other way is that the first rite can be performed with regard to all animals one by one. Then the second rite can be performed to all the animals and in the same way the other rites can be performed. Now, the question is which way should be followed? The first way is called ‘kāṇḍānusamaya’ and the second way is called ‘padārthānusamaya’.

The opponent says,

sannipāte pradhānānām ekaikasya guṇānāṃ sarvakarma syāt[15]

(On a collection of the principles, the subordinate acts should, one by one, be performed till all are over).

According to the opponent all rites like upākaraṇa, niyojana etc. should be done to one animal. After they are finished, they should be performed to the next animal. Because if this technique is maintained then there will be proximity of subsidiary rites with the principal act. On the other hand, if all rites are not done one by one to one animal, then this proximity to principal act is not maintained. Not only that, in the model sacrifice named ‘Nirūḍhapaśubandha’, there is togetherness of the rites. According to the model sacrifice also, there should be togetherness of rites in the modification. So, according to the opponent the way named ‘kāṇḍānusamaya’ is to be followed here and not the way named ‘padārthānusamya’.

But the conclusion of the Mīmāṃsakas is,

sarveṣāṃ vaikajātīyaṃ kṛtānupūrvatvāt[16]

(On the other hand, one kind of sacrificial act be performed on all, in order to maintain the order).

According to the ‘Padārthānusamya’ the first rite should performed to the animals from the first to the seventeenth. Then the second rite should be done in the same way. The other rites should also be done in the same procedure.

Because there is a vedic injunction expressing simultaneity of these rites, i.e.,

vaisvadevīṃ kṛtvā prājāpatyaiś caranti

(Having performed the Vaisvadevī, [they] proceed with Prajāpati’s [animals]).

The third case-ending used in the term ‘prajāpatyaiḥ’ denotes the instrumentality of the meaning of the word Prajāpati. This instrumentality is in the form of the generator of the result (phalajanakatvarūpam). The principal rite itself can not produce the result. Only the principal is not ‘phalajanaka’ (producer of the result). If the principal rite is assisted by the subsidiary rites, then only it can produce the result. So, the principal with its subsidiaries becomes the essential cause of urge (bhāvanā). According to this rule, all these seventeen animals are to be honoured by upākaraṇa etc. in the same time. But it is obviously impossible for one and the same person to perform the subsidiaries all at once with reference to the seventeen animals. So, one by one, all seventeen animals are honoured in an uninterrupted manner. Though there is not simultaneity and there is distances of performing rite, yet this kind of distance is accepted. Because it is unavoidable. But there is no cause of performing the ‘niyojana’ rite of an animal after having done the ‘upākaraṇa’ rite of another animal. Therefore, the ‘upākaraṇa’ rite is done with regard to all animals and then in the same order ‘niyojana’ and others are performed. This is pravṛttikrama. The following table will help us to grasp this subject:


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17


  1. upākaraṇa,
  2. niyojana,
  3. añjana,
  4. paryagnikarṇa,
  5. saṃjñapana etc.

A person can take any animal of the seventeen animals to start his upākaraṇa rite. If he choose the eighth animal and perform the act of upākaraṇa with it, then he should perform the next rite niyojana with it. In that case there will be an interval of 16 moments between the upākaraṇa and the niyojana of that eight animal. Thus, all animals get equal interval of time between two rites. But if the upākaraṇa and the niyojana are done with regard to the first animal after having done the upākaraṇa with regard to the eighth animal, then there will be unequal interval of time between two rites of the first animal with regard to the eighth animal. The prayogavidhi does not tolerate it. So, the pravṛttikrama applies here according to ‘padārthānusamaya’.

The order by ‘kāṇḍānusamaya’ applies in the acts of consecration of puroḍāśa (sacrificial cake). There all acts of consecration are performed with regard to one puroḍaśa. Then they are performed to the next puroḍāśa. Because there is a reason of repetition.

So, Jaimini says,

kāraṇād abhyāvṛttiḥ”.[17]

If one rite of consecration is done to all cakes one by one, and then the other rites are performed in the same way to all cakes, then the cakes will burn. Then our target will not be fulfilled. So, the pādarthānusamaya rule does not apply here. The kāṇḍānusamaya rule applies here.

This pravṛttikrama is weaker than all proofs. Its weakness than mukhyakrama is illustrated below.

Earlier, we have known that the prayogavidhi aims at promptness of performance. To maintain this promtness it enjoins a definite order for the performance of the subservient rites. When several subservient acts have to be performed, their order is fixed by the pravṛttikrama. By fixing this order the pravṛttikrama aims at securing togetherness (sāhitya) of these subsidiaries. Pravṛttikrama does not tolerate any unnecessary interval between the subsidiaries. This is the nature of pravṛttikrama in short.

There are three main sacrifices in the ‘Darśayāga’ of the ‘Darśapūrṇa-māsa’ sacrifice. These are āgneyayāga, upāṃśuyāga and ‘aindrāgnayaga’. The Upāṃśuyāga is offered with sānnāyya i.e. with milk and curds. So, this sacrifice has got the nomenclature ‘sānnāyyayāga’.

The subsidiaries of the āgneyayāga are:

  1. avadāna (cutting or dividing of the cake),
  2. abhighāraṇa (sprinkling with ghee) and
  3. havirāsādana (bringing near the oblation).

These are called the āgneyadharmas.

The subsidiaries of the sānnāyyayāga are:

  1. śākhāharaṇa (collecting the palāśa branch),
  2. vatsāpakaraṇa (removing of the calf),
  3. dohana (milking);

And also:

  1. avadāna,
  2. abhighāraṇa and
  3. havirāsādana.

These are ‘sānnāyyadharmas’. Of these, the first three rites must be performed on the previous day i.e. on kṛṣṇacaturdaśī tithi. For, unless milk is collected from the cow on the previous day after removing the calf from it with the help of a palāśa branch, curd can not be prepared for sacrifice on darśa. The last three rites are to be performed on the darśa day at the time of the actual presentation of the oblation.

If the pravṛttikrama is here followed then all sānnāyyadharmas should be performed together. Because the pravṛttikrama aims at the togetherness of the subsidiaries.

Then the order will be:

  1. All subsidiaries of sānnāyyayāga,
  2. All subsidiaries of āgneyayāga,
  3. āgneyayāga and
  4. sānnāyyayāga.

Herein many subsidiaries of sānnāyyayāga are far too removed from their principal sacrifice. On the contrary the subsidiaries of āgneyayāga and this sacrifice are far too close.

But if we follow the mukhyakrama, then the order of subsidiaries will be the same as the order of the principals. It is true that the first three subsidiaries of sānnāyyayāga i.e. śākhāharṇa etc. in any case must be performed on the previous day. So, these come first in the order of performance. Then according to mukhyakrama the other subsidiaries should be performed in the same order in which the principals are performed. The order of the principal sacrifices is fixed viz. āgneyayāga and sānnāyyayāga. It can not also be changed in any case. So, the subsidiaries have also to be done in the order of āgneyadharmas and sānnāyyadharmas.

Therefore, according to mukhyakrama, the order of performance is:

  1. The first three subsidiaries of sānnāyyayāga (śākhāharaṇa etc.),
  2. Subsidiaries of āgneyayāga,
  3. The residuary subsidiaries of sānnāyyayāga like avadāna etc.,
  4. āgneyayāga and
  5. sānnāyyayāga.

Here the subsidiaries of sānnāyayāga are brought a little nearer to this sacrifice than before and at the same time equal distance between the subsidiaries of āgneyayāga and it, and the subsidiaries of sānnāyyayāga and it, is attained.

For this reason mukhyakrama is more powerful than pravṛttikrama.

With the help of these proofs the prayogavidhi ascertains the order of rites. A sacrificer must have good knowledge about these proofs and their comparative strength to perform a sacrifice in a good and logical manner. For this, a comprehensive study of the Vedas is necessary. The Mīmāṃsā philosophy provides the logical aspects to this comprehension.

Footnotes and references:






Jaiminīyanyāmālāvistara, page-265.


Quoted in ‘The Arthasaṃgraha of Laugākṣi Bhāskara’, page, 182, by A. B. Gajendragadkar and R. D. Karmakar.














Quoted in ‘Artha-saṃgraha of Laugākṣi Bhāskara’ by Dr. Vāchasparti Upādhyāya, page, 137.













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