Mimamsa interpretation of Vedic Injunctions (Vidhi)

by Shreebas Debnath | 2018 | 68,763 words

This page relates ‘Category of the Svadhyayavidhi’ 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 9.2b - Category of the Svādhyāyavidhi

The Mīmāṃsakas say that the whole Mīmāṃsa philosophy is known as something to be praiseworthy from the ‘Svādhyāyavidhi’ [svādhyāya-vidhi]. The opponent argues that this Mīmāṃsa-śāstra (a branch of knowledge) is not known as something to be studied from the ‘svādhyāyavidhi’.

If the sentence ‘svādhyāyodhyetavyaḥ’ incites us to study the Mīmāṃsasāstra, then it must have been included in apūrvavidhi, or niyamavidhi or parisaṃkhyāvidhi. But the above vedic sentence can not be included in any kind of injunctions discussed above. The opponent nourishes his opinion by putting arguments. He says that the ‘svādhyāyavidhi ’ is not an apūrvavidhi ’ for the meaning i. e. ‘the svādhyāya should be studied for acquiring knowledge’ is not unobtained by other proofs. Because it is contradictory to our perceptual knowledge that a person having the knowledge of words and their meaning can not understand the meaning of a book when he reads that book. Reading a text by a well-learned person leads him to his knowledge. So, the reading of the Vedas by an erudite person will also produce the knowledge of the Vedas. From this inference it is proved that the ‘svādhyāyavidhi ’ is not an apūrvavidhi’ because it does not enjoin a matter which is totally unobtained. The matter of this sentence is established or obtained by other means of proof i.e. inference. The apūrvavidhi enjoins an unobtained matter. So, the ‘svādhyāyavidhi ’ can not be regarded as an apūrvavidhi’. It can not be judged as a niyamavidhi also. The injunction ‘vriīhīn avahanti ’ is read in the context of the ‘Darśapūrṇamāsa’sacrifice. So, threshing of rice becomes an accessory to that sacrifice. If threshing of rice enjoined by the above injunction is not performed, then the sacrifice will not be complete. But the ‘adhyayanavidhi’ is not read in any context related to sacrifice. So, this injunction is ‘anārabhyādhīta’. If there is not any ‘niyamāpūrva ’ produced from maintaining the ‘adhyayanavidhi’ (i.e. if Vedas are read thoroughly with their organs from the teacher) then there will be no loss or deficiency. Simply, if ‘niyamāpūrva’ is not accepted here, there will not be any loss. It is not also true that the knowledge obtained from other sources than a teacher will not help in the sacrifice. Only knowledge is essential. There is no hard-and-fast rule that this knowledge is to be had from a teacher only. The sacrificer can acquire the knowledge about sacrifice by his own effort. He himself can study the Vedas. Besides this, reading of Vedas is not a suisidiary act of sacrifice. So, it is not kratvartha. The ‘svādhyāyavidhi ’ is not read in the context of sacrifice. The most important thing is that reading of the Vedas is not subservient to any principal rite, for reading of the Vedas has not been prescribed after begining some matter in the Vedas. For this reason, the ‘ādhyayanavidhi ’ is called anārabhyādhītavidhi. Therefore, the ‘adhyayanavidhi ’ is not conducive to any invisible unique result unlike the injunctions relating to the sprinkling, threshing etc.

According to the opponent philosopher the ‘adhyayanavidhi’ is not a parisaṃkhyāvidhi also. Because by this injunction the reading other than the svādhāya is not prohibited. So, the discussion of the meaning of the Vedas by the Mīmāṃsā philosophy is not laid down by injunction. Then, what is the necessity of the ‘adhyayanavidhi ’? The purport of this injunction is that if the Vedas are learnt from a preceptor then it will lead to heaven. Here learning means ‘akṣara-grahaṇa’ i.e. uttering the Vedas according to the pronunciation of the preceptor. Heaven is not directly understood as a result from the adhyayanavidhi. Yet the purport of this vidhi is not the understanding of the meaning of the Vedas, for in the absence of this vidhi also a learned person can understand the meaning of the Vedas. But an injunction can not be worthless or useless. It has some purpose. Because the whole Veda is meant for the four principal objects (dharma-artha-kāma-mokṣāḥ) of human life. How a man can fulfill his objects is established in the Veda. So, the injunction, ‘svādhyāyodhyetavyaḥ’ also must have some purpose. According to the visvajit-nyāya the result of this injunction is heaven. If there is no mention of any result in any injunction heaven is regarded as its result. The siddhāntin refutes the previous arguments of the opponent. The Mīmāṃsāśāstra is to be started by the power of the ‘adhyayanavidhi’ only. The niyamavidhi is to be accepted in this injunction. By this injunction not only the reading as ‘akṣara-grahaṇa’ is intended, but the understanding of the meaning of the Vedas is also intended; for understand the meaning is the visible result of reading. An invisible result should not be postulated where a visible result is possinble. If the invisible result is accepted here, then there will be three faults, i.e. ‘kṛtanāśa, akṛtābhyāgama and kalpanāgaurava. It will be vitiated by ‘kṛtanāśa’ because of the rejection of the obtained meaning. The fault ‘akṛtābhyāgama’ will arise there because of the postulation of result heaven which is unobtained. The fault ‘kalpanāgaurava’ will also peep into the matter because primarily heaven is imagined as result. Secondly, it is also to be postulated that ‘svādhyāya’ results in heaven i.e. ‘svādhyāya’ is charactrized by the state of being the means of heaven. So, heaven is not the result of ‘svādhyāya’, but understanding the meaning of the Vedas is the result of it.

The Vedas should be learnt from a teacher only, and not by self study. What is the necessity of this ‘niyamavidhi’? Does it help to produce any invisible result which will help in producing knowledge or in performing the sacrifice or in producing the result of the sacrifice? The answer is ‘darśāpūrvavat astyatra kratvapūrvaṃ niyāmakam’ (The invisible result is the regulating factor as the regulator in the Darśa sacrifice produced from it).

As this invisible result is accepted in the case of ‘vrīhīn avahanti ’, so also all the invisible results which are going to be produced by the future sacrifices are the instigating factor of the ‘adhyayanavidhi’. If the Vedas are learnt from the teacher with maintaining the essential rules, then only it will produce an invisible result which will help the sacrifices which are going to be performed. A sacrifice can not be performed without its knowledge. If the techniques of ‘likhitapāṭha’ (reading of the written text by one’s own effort without taking help of a teacher) etc. are followed, then it will not lead to any invisible result as in the husking of the paddies by nails etc. In the absence of this invisible result no final result will come. But if niyamavidhi is accepted in ‘adhyayanavidhi’, then it can be easily explained that this injunction, if followed, will create the invisible result. This invisible result will combine with the knowledge obtained from reading of the Vedas to finish the sacrifice.

Actually, the purport of the ‘adhyayanavidhi’ is to regulate the eligibility of the sacrificer in Agnihotrayāga. The Veda declares, ‘agnihotraṃ juhoti’ (One should offer the Agnihotra). But it does not mention the eligibility of the sacrificer. Then who is entitled to perform the sacrifice? This question arises. All brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras can perform sacrifice by reading the Vedas with their own effort. All can do the Agnihotra for attaining heaven. But in the seventh adhikaraṇa of the first Pāda of the sixth chapter of ‘Mīmāṃsādarśana’ it is established that a person belonging to the śūdra caste can not perform a sacrifice. This prohibition is possible only when the owner of the ‘adhyayanvidhi’ is regulated. There is no mention of caste in the ‘adhyayanavidhi’.

On the other hand, in another section, the Veda declares,

vasante brāhmaṇam upanayīta, grīṣme rājanyaṃ’, saradi vaiśyam

(The teacher should give the sacrificial thread [by a ceremony] to a brāhmaṇa in the spring, to a kṣatriya in the summer and to a vaiśya in the autumn).

Here three castes have been mentioned. The ceremony is meant for them. This rite is a subsidiary rite. So, it must be subservient to any principal rite. But there is no mention of any principal rite. We have seen before that the ‘adhyayanavidhi’ is waiting for an agent. Now, it is seen that the persons related to the three castes are waiting for a principal rite after wearing the sacrifical thread. What will they do after wearing the thread—this question is also arising. The principal rite is waiting for its subsidiary rite and the subsidiary rite is also wating for its principal rite. Thus the above two injunctions are mutually connected. So, it is established that the ceremony of wearing the sacrificial thread is a subsidiary rite to the act of reading (adhyayana) enjoined by the ‘adhyayanavidhi’. This ceremony indirectly tells about the eligibility of the reader for reading the Vedas. The reader is consecrated by this ‘upanayana’. This ceremoney is called ‘upanayana’. He becomes eligible to read the Vedas after his ‘upanayana’. The visible purpose of reading is to obtain the knowledge of the Vedas. The purpose of this knowledge is to perform Agnihotra etc. So, the Agnihotra etc. can not be related to a śūdra because the ‘upanayana’ ceremony is not prescribed for him.

Consequently, the ‘adhyayanavidhi’ can not be applied to him. This injunction regulates the three castes for reading the Vedas. So this is a niyamavidhi.

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