Mimamsa interpretation of Vedic Injunctions (Vidhi)

by Shreebas Debnath | 2018 | 68,763 words

This page relates ‘Niyamavidhi (Introduction)’ 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 8 - Niyamavidhi (Introduction)

When many alternatives are in hand the Niyamavidhi [niyama-vidhi] recommends only one alternative and denies the other alternatives. If ‘A’ is to be done and there are so many means like ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’ etc. and ‘A’ should be done only by ‘B’, then if anyone takes the other means than ‘B’, the niyamavidhi applies here. It restricts that ‘A’ is to be done only by ‘B’ and not by other means.

The definition of niyamavidhi as given by Laugākṣi Bhaskara is:

nānāsādhanasādhyakriyāyām ekasādhanaprāptau aprāptasya aparasādha-nasya prāpak vidhir niyamavidhiḥ

(An injunction of restriction is the injunction, which establishes or makes available or enforces another instrument which has not been established, when one instrument has been established [i.e. is likely to be adopted] in [the case of] an action which can be done by different means.)

This injunction makes available the unobtained matter among many alternatives.

So, the commentator of ‘Arthāloka’ says,

pākṣikāprāptaprāpakatvaṃ niyamavidhitvam ityarthaḥ.
aprāptipakṣaṃ niyamayati iti niyamavidhir iti bhāvaḥ

It restricts or takes the unobtained or rejected alternative which helps us to reach our desired goal like having an invisible unique result etc.

For example;

vrīhīn avahanti

(He should thresh the rices).

There are so many ways for threshing rice-grains. This threshing or husking of the chaff from paddy can be done by nail, pestle, machine etc. If the sacrificer threshes by pestle, then this injunction does not apply here. But if he does it by nail or by machine, then this injunction applies. Here ‘vrīhīn avahanti ’ restricts the way and says that the paddies should be kept on a wooden mortar and the chaffs should be detached or cleansed by using a pestle. So, this injunction does not mean threshing only. Because it can be had by the method of agreement (anvaya) and the method of difference (vyatireka). If there is ‘A’, there is ‘B’—this is the structure of the method of agreement. If there is not ‘A’, there is not ‘B’, or, if there is not ‘B’, there is not ‘A’—this is the form of the method of difference. Here if any of the means is there, there will be husking and if the means are not there, there will not be husking i.e. it will not take place. But this is not the purport of this vedic sentence. If some invisible result is to be produced by husking, then it should be done only by mortar and a pestle. This injunction fulfills the unobtained alternative which must be followed. When the sacrificer threshes the rices by nails, then threshing by mortar and pestle becomes unobtained.

This niyamavidhi makes threshing by mortar and pestle obtained. ‘Arthāloka’ describes,

tuṣavimokāya yadā nakhavidalanaṃ sādhanaṃ parigṛhṇāti tadāvahananasya yā aprāptiḥ tatprāptisampādanam ayaṃ vidhiḥ karoti ityarthaḥ”.

From this the difference between the apūrvavidhi and the niyamavidhi is clearly understood. Niyamavidhi also makes an unobtained matter obtained like apūrvavidhi. Yet it is different from apūrvavidhi ; for in an apūrvavidhi the matter is known from that injunction only. The Veda is the only source of knowledge of that matter. The other proofs have nothing to do regarding the validity of that knowledge of the apūrvavidhi. But in a niyamavidhi the matter of that injunction is sometimes obtained and sometimes unobtained. When the matter is obtained then the niyamavidhi does not apply. But when it is unobtained then niyamavidhi is applied.

Paṭṭābhirāma Sāstrin lucidly made their difference:

etenāpūrvavidhito niyamavidher bhedo’bhihitaḥ. apūrvavidhau sarvathāpraptaprāpakatvaṃ vidheḥ; niyamavidhau tu pākṣikāprāptāṃśapūra-katvam iti dvayor bheda iti bhāvaḥ.”

The nature of this niyamavidhi has been beautifully expressed by Kumārila Bhaṭṭa in Tantravārtika

aprāptasya tu pakṣe yo vidhir niyamasaṃjñāsau ||
sa ‘vrīhīn avahantī’ti vidhir ityapi gṛhyatām |
vaituṣyārthatvam etena nāvaghātasya bodhyate ||
anvayavyatirekābhyāṃ tatsiddher niyamastataḥ |
bodhyate vidhinaitena taccāprāptāṅgapūraṇam ||
upāyāntaram ādātum udyuṅkte’yaṃ vidhistadā |
aprāptasyāvaghātasya vidhānaṃ kurute tataḥ

Laugāksi Bhāskara has given a short definition according to Kumārila Bhaṭṭa—

pakṣe’prāptasya prāpako vidhir niyamavidhiḥ

(The injunction, which establishes a matter, which is not established in the alternative, is an injunction of restriction).

Here ‘pakṣe aprāptasya’ means ‘sometimes the matter is obtained because of its acceptance and sometimes the matter is unobtained because of its rejection.’

In ‘Sāravivecinī ’ it is clearly explained like this:

pakṣe aprāptasya kadācit prāptasya kadācit aprāptsya ityarthaḥ. vituṣībhāvarupaṃ prayojanaṃ hi avahananena nakhavidalanena aśmakuṭṭādinā vā ityanekair upāyaiḥ sādhayituṃ śakyate. tatra nakhavida-lanādibhiḥ vituṣībhāvaṃ yadā saṃpādayitum ārabhate, tadā avahananasya prāptyabhāvāt asti tasya kādācitkī prāptiḥ. tasyāṃ ca daśāyaṃ yā aprāptiḥ tadaṃśe’pi, avaghāta-prāpako yo vidhiḥ sa niyamavidhir ityarthaḥ.”

Here ‘aśmakuṭṭanam’ means ‘pounding by stone’.

A. B. Gajendragadkar and R. D. Karmakar have stated the distinction between the apūrvavidhi and the niyamavidhi in their book ‘The Arthasaṃgraha of Laugāksi Bhāskara’. They said:

“The distinction between vidhi (apurvavidhi) and niyama (niyamavidhi) may thus be stated: But vidhi and niyama enjoins things, which are aprāpta. But while vidhi enjoins a matter, which is atyantam aprāpta or pramāṇāntareṇa aprāpta (not known from any other source), niyama lays down a matter, which is only pakṣe aprāpta (not established in the alternative). Secondly, vidhi represents an injunction, pure and simple, of a matter not known from any other source; niyama on the other hand asks us to perform a thing, already known from another source, in some special manner. Thirdly, vidhi performs a single function viz. enjoining a thing unknown before; but niyama performs two really, because it restricts us to one of the many alternatives and excludes the others.”

Another example of this niyamavidhi is “same yajeta” (One should sacrifice at an even place). When the competent sacrificer performs the sacrifice at an uneven place, then the even place becomes unestablished or unobtained part. But the above injunction restrains the sacrificer from performing sacrifice at an uneven place and instructs him to do it at an even place. If he does not care to this vedic law, he will not get any good result; rather it will cause sins. Besides this, an action like sacrifice can be done well at an even place. So, this injunction enjoins an even place for sacrifice. Here is the utility of a niyamavidhi or an injunction of restriction.

Footnotes and references:


As quoted in ‘Mīmāṃsānyāyaprakāśa’, Edited by Dr. Biswarup Saha, page–411-412.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: