Mimamsa interpretation of Vedic Injunctions (Vidhi)

by Shreebas Debnath | 2018 | 68,763 words

This page relates ‘Parisamkhyavidhi in Shravana’ 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 9.3l - Parisaṃkhyāvidhi in Śravaṇa

Sureśvarācārya authored ‘Bṛhadāraṇyakavārtika’. Some followers of this ‘Vārtika’ think that as the person engaged in the discussion or consideration of ‘Carakasaṃhitā’, ‘Suśrutasaṃhitā’ etc. for acquiring the knowledge of medical science, sometimes performs another work, similarly, the striver engaged in the consideration of Vedanta for acquiring the brahmajñāna, may have tendency to another work. For the prevention of that tendency to another work, parisaṃkhyāvidhi is accepted in the word ‘śrotavyaḥ’.

Because the ‘Chāndogyopaniṣad’ declares abstination from the works other than the thinking about Brahman as the means for salvation, by the sentence:

brahmasaṃstho’mṛtatvam, eti[1]

(A person firmly established in Brahman attains immortality).

The root ‘sthā’ prefixed by ‘sam’ means ‘completion’. So, the word ‘brahmasaṃsthā’ means ‘completion in Brahman’. In another words, it means, end of works other than the thinking about Brahman.

Other works or engagements have also been prohibited by the sentence,

tam evaikaṃ jānatha ātmānam anyā vāco vimuñcathāmṛtasyaiṣa setuḥ[2]

(Know that one soul only. Give up all sentences or words which are opposed to the knowledge of soul. This knowledge of soul is the way to immortality).

The smṛti-text also declares that as long as a person does not sleep and as long as he is alive, so long he should spend his time by thinking the Vedānta.

The gist of this view is that when a person follows śravaṇa, manana and nididhyāsana along with other works like reading of the medical science etc., then the parisaṃkhyāvidhi applies. Consequently, the means which do not lead him to brahmajñāna are eliminated at first. Then he follows the right means to brahmajñāna. This is the function of parisaṃkhyāvidhi with reference to the śravaṇavidhi. Accepting parisaṃkhyāvidhi in śravaṇa is necessary because only śravaṇa etc. lead us to brahmajñāna ; but other activities like reading the medical books etc. do not help us to attain brahmajñāna.

Objection: There is no other means of brahmajñāna along with śravaṇa etc. So, it is unnecessary to admit parisaṃkhyāvidhi in śravaṇa for the prohibition of the activities other than śravaṇa etc.

Reply: No. It can not be said. Because Saṃkarācārya had admitted niyamavidhi in ‘mauna’ or ‘nididhyāsana’ by the sentence,

yasmin pakṣe bhedadarśanaprābalyāt na prāpṇoti, tasmin eṣaḥ vidhiḥ iti.”[3]

(Niyamavidhi is accepted in that case in which ‘nididhyāsana’ is alternatively unattained because of excessiveness of dualism nourished by a striver).

Appaya Dīkṣita explained it in his ‘Siddhāntaleśasaṃgraha’ in this way—the person who has śravaṇa of the Vedānta and who is contended with only the knowledge obtained from that śravaṇa, or the person who engages himself in any work not related to Brahman, may no longer engage himself in nididhyāsana which is conducive to brahmajñāna which removes ignorance. So, some unnecessary and misguiding means are alternatively obtained. To prevent this, niyamavidhi is acknowledged in nididhyāsana. When the right means and the misguiding means are collectively obtained with regard to śravaṇa, the parisaṃkhyāvidhi may be accepted to prohibit the misguiding means.

Sureśvarācārya has accepted both niyamavidhi and parisaṃkhyāvidhi in śravaṇa for different strivers in his ‘Naiṣkarmasiddhi’. He said—

niyamaḥ parisaṃkhyā vā vidhyartho’pi bhavet yataḥ |
anātmādarśanenaiva paramātmānam upāsmahe ||”[4]

(The meaning of the injunction in śravaṇa, may be regulation or exclusion, because we worship the Supreme Soul only through not seeing the objects other than the soul.)

Footnotes and references:


Śāṃkarabhāṣyam on Brahmasūtra—2.23.1.




Śāṃkarabhāṣya on Brahmasūtra—3.4.47.



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