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Pujya Dr. K.C. Varadachari - Volume -2

The term Mimamsa is used for the same purpose as the word Nyaya which means the method of interpretation or understanding experience.  It is therefore sometimes equated with the latter.  However, there seems to have been some understanding of the differences.  Anviksiki is the means which goes beyond the given or that which attempts to bring all experience under a formula of understanding the buddhi.


            If Nyaya devoted itself to the field of perceptive experience and sought to gain the knowledge of objects of sense-experience and devised the rules for inference based on invariable concomitance (vyapti) observed between any set of facts of perception, the field of transcendental or supersensory knowledge was sought to be covered by the Mimamsa.  The usual term Nyaya is used to embrace also the general rules of conduct.  The word ‘Naya’ in Jaina logic is again a modification of the work Nyaya as it means a lead or perspective or road or path based on experience.  Saptabhangi in Jaina is a way of analysis of experience in terms of being and non-being and their unity and inexpressibility.  We can see that the three terms Nyaya, Samkhya and Mimamsa refer perhaps to the three levels of our experience, the perceptual – inferential, enumerative casual inferential, and the supre- sensorial and scriptural inferential.


            This conclusion seems to be justified from the fact that the term originally was restricted to the inferential propositions within the field the scripture (Sabda and aptavacana).  The level of the perceptual brings up the problems of error and illusion so much so the truth of the propositions referring to perception and inference is to be determined.  There arise the questions of tarka or dialectical determinations by confronting one proposition by another.  Thus two propositions which are given may be both false, or both true or one of them false and the other true.  The necessity of determining the principles which should help decide the truth when both the given propositions are false, must be some other than both of them.  This is the reason for rising above the antimonies in experience, seeking a higher kind of knowledge.  Within perceptual experience when it is shown that both propositions are false and also that all perceptual experiences are false then it becomes imperative to seek a higher level experience which will be true.  The rationale for the search after God or Absolute truth which has no falsehood in it any where is this alone.  Having arrived at that knowledge or area of knowledge the statements made then are all true statements.  Scripture or vada is this field of true statements.  If apparent contradictions are observed between them, all that is needed is not the logic of exclusion or contradiction but reconciliation (Samanvaya not tarka).


            Thus it follows that the statements of the Upanisads and the Vada had to be reconciled rather than dialectically decided on the basis of the law of contradiction or excluded middle.  The scholars were very much put to the problem of seeking to know the meaning of the propositions which appeared to wear the garb of contradictions.  The search for meaning led to their considering the meaning of the letters, the words and sentences, and the meaning of the meaning.  We are presented with several types of investigations.  The origination of letters or individual sounds, their eternality of form and their individual meanings formed one vast branch of study varna-sastra.  How the individual letters go to make up the word, and whether the word has to be understood in terms of letters, their arrangement and the fixity of the order of letters became another branch of study Pada-sastra.  The problems of philosophy have shown that the words themselves depend upon the roots or their original (Dhaiu) which express actions or intentions or some such functions which make them capable of manifesting meaning or intelligibility.  The words themselves seem to get a kind of arrangement which leads to the knowledge of the sentence.  In fact a sentence or proposition is a single act of judgment expressed in words that express or manifest the meaning of that act, the words being so to speak those which are appropriate to express that meaning.  There are various discussions on the nature of this; some claim that in a sentence of judgment (or imperative etc.)., the words are to be so linked up as to yield a meaning or rather it is the purpose of the speaker to link up appropriately the words so as to express the meaning (Abhihita-anvaya).  Some others hold that the natural method is to express the meaning through words which can express it (anvita-abhidha).  Thus the total effect of these discussions is that we are confronted with the problems of interpretation of the sentences, grammatically, logically, philologically on the one hand and on the other we are forced to explain our words on the basis of physical objects (Adhibhautika), psychological experiences (adhyatmically) and spiritual truths (adhidaiva or adhi-moksa).  This extraordinary range of interpretations had revealed that the whole scope of Mimamsa is very vast.


            Thus divisions of Mimamsa include grammar and Philology and logic and psychology, and supernatural functions.  Words connecting in one sense are at certain levels only denotative or pointing.  They even take up the role of being just symbols (or linga or leaders to that which they signify or symbolize lingi).


            Properly thus the field of inspection for Mimamsa is the Super sensory field.  Inference of a different order is called for as Badarayana has put in his Vedanta Sutra 1.1.3 & 4 “Sastrayonitvat” and ‘Tat tu Samanvayat”.  The knowledge of the Transcendent Brahman as cause etc., is from the Sastra (Veda) and to be known only through Reconcilational Logic (Samanvaya) not disjunction.


            It is to be noted that the scriptural sentences (Vakyas) have a particular order which is fixed and is asked to be so fixed permanently (eternally fixed by the Godhead) and any attempt to change either the order or the pronunciation is said to be a grievous error.  It is true that later agamas have not conformed to this prescription and therefore became what was called secular writings and though agama not Veda.  The questions about the eternity of the Veda or its dependence on the retention by the Isvara or creation by the Isvara are in fact closely linked up with the necessity to grant these Veda a fixed meaning and fixed order of anvaya for the words used in such sacred work.  The greatness of the interpreter lies in trying to understand the meaning of the same naturally.  It is true that in verse forms or mantra or metrical forms there are those who seek to work out the anvaya of the words by what they mean or by the terminals and case-endings and Linga (in Sanskrit).  But the attempt to restore these to prose constructions is always counseled in such cases where the need arises for granting a meaning.  This being the rule generally in ordinary verse-constructions and analysis, it is said that abhibitaanvya is correct; but in fixed forms and arrangements and in logical discourse it is necessary to gather the unity of the whole sentence and determine the meaning of each word in the context of it and find whether the words have a direct meaning or indirect Yogic or conventional (Rudhi) meanings and their relevancy.  Thus the principles of Akanksa, expectancy, Yogyata (appropriateness) and Sannidhi (nearness) and also prayojana are applied in these cases of fixing the meaning of words in a sentence or in bringing the words into apposition.  I have dealt with this aspect in a different paper.  The ordinary laukika or world perceptual knowledge is capable of beig communicated in so many ways and it may be complete or incomplete and may require the knowledge of the meaning of each word and their synthesis.  But in scriptural texts (Aptavacana of the Veda), the words are meant in contexts and in their determination by the whole.  Ambiguity is avoided by fixing the meanings, and in a language such as Sanskrit it becomes necessary to have univalency rather than multi or poly-valency or meanings of words.  The need to deduce this existent conventional multi-meanings to single meaning is said to be the technical meaning within the context.  Thus arises the necessity to inspect the nature of language and how the words have to be explained or determined in meaning in logical and metaphysical thought that goes beyond the pale or area of perceptive and social dimensions.  Attempts to interpret the scripture with the help of the conventional and common and perceptual as such leads to grave misinterpretations of scripture and ingenuities the most scandalous.


            As the Samkhya has stated the scriptural authority reigns duly in matters concerning the super-sensory.  The Mimamsa-logic thus also seems to subscribe to this views.  The two mimamsas consider the Philosophy of Karma or Dharma (Sacred rites, Yajna, Yagas) as taught in the Veda and the Philosophy of Brahman (Upasanas) as taught in the Veda (Upanisads).  Both Dharma and Brahma are supersensory truths of conduct and attainment.  They are the Rta and Satya of the Veda.  Dharma of this restricted kind should not be confused with Niti (Rajaniti, also called Rajadharma, Santi-dharma, Apaddharma and other secular societal rules of behaviour or principles of Government).  In fact the ethical dharma also comes under the secular when it is social. There was a time when all was considered to be sacramental and as such men looked to the Veda for such dharna too.  However, the whole scope and area of dharna, as the Mimamsas show, is sacred rite and neither the results predicted by the Veda nor Karma that has to be done are matters for which secular and social understanding can give a meaning at all.  Surely the rules of interpretation are based on the general line of consistency, appropriateness and non – self contradiction with the general tenour of the Vedic teaching.


            Problems germane to this field are of course the Karma-doctrine that every act produces a fruit or result – or every cause produces a fruit an effect and ought to.  There is freedom for the individual either to do the karma or not thus gain the effect or not.  Doing that which is prohibited will get results for wrong doing, even as not-doing that which ought to be done also produces results of non-doing.  But above all the most important part of the principle is that results which ought to come about later or after death or after one departs to another word (svarga), or, as later people have interpreted in a life after rebirth.  Individual differences and deserts which are inexplicable are said to come about in this delayed result of effectuation.  Several reasons are adduced, the most important being that the result or effect is obstructed by certain impediments which death removes.  The principle of karma effectuation is called Apurva, in sense that it is something produced.  Only in respect of action or dharna performed does this arise not otherwise.  Results of dharna –activity are apurva not natural productions which perhaps have their presence already a kind of Sat-karya-Vada and a kind of asat – karya-vada to blended with its.


            Thus the principles of Mimamsa interpretation have to take into consideration in reconciliation of the texts and practices introduced by the ancient seers who are credited with the knowledge of them thoroughly. Therefore, too the interpretation of the scripture is said to demand the six preliminaries, Siksa, Nirukta, Jyotisa, Vyakarana, Chandas, Kalpa.


            Problems of great interest arise out of the conception of place of words in the sentence (Vakya).  The grammatical sentence has to be distinguished from the logical sentence or proposition.  Both indeed have to be distinguished from the poetic constructions of words and meanings.  Double entendre may have a legitimate place in poetry but not in logic which aims at arriving at truth and in ethics which aims at unambiguous direction for conduct.  The West has realized the importance of these distinctions.


            A more definite problem of the derivation of words from roots arises when the same or identical words is used in different contexts necessitating a reflection about the root from which the word has been derived.  This yaugic method has been used plentifully in arriving at connotation from denotations as in the bhasyas referring to Sahsranamas.  This yaugic method has been very useful but it has also led to very many ingenuities, and even today it bedevils most of our philologists.  A comparative study of the words and their roots has undoubtedly proved a corrective but it is yet at the stage of infancy.


            All these show that a more rational appreciation of the problems as a language and meaning to which modern logicians are paying great attention is a great desideratum.


            Mimamsa would have to take into consideration all these problems as it had done previously.  There is a vast field for rediscovery and reinterpretation in the light of our increasing knowledge. The ancient Mimamsakas have indeed along with grammarians done great work in this field which requires the close attention of the modern scholars.  However, the analytical approach and the attempt to generalize one theory over the whole field of human understanding has led to exaggerated emphasis on all sides.  A unified theory would have to take cognizance of the several areas of human activity, secular as well as spiritual, perceptual as well as revelational.


            This leads us to the consideration of one more urgent problem, the problem of the relation between inference (anumana including upmana) and revelation.  As the word anumana itself signifies it is a method or reason that waits upon some experience or datum other than itself.  It is either perception observation dependent or revelation dependent.  Its dependence on material for cogitation on the two extremes of sentience (including the sensory sentience and supersensory sentience, sentience being taken to be experience of being or reality) makes it formal and the modern thinkers or logicians think that the proper knowledge or reason is to gain its infinite (?) symbolic possibilities in argument and formal deduction.  This field is thus marked out as the field for knowledge of Reason.  Such a reason is an instrument (Karana) for deduction or induction or reconciliation.


            Reason is an instrument for discovery of truth or Reality but by itself it is not truth or reality.  It is clear that it is a valid instrument provided it is used carefully within the limits fixed for it.  This was the reason for the famous works of Kant known by the name of Critiques.  Mimamsa, Samkhya and Nyaya when properly understood restrict the areas of operation of reason or understanding anumana to the supersensory – revelational, the casual inferential, and the perceptual fields of time-space-generality, non-existence, qualities and things.  But this gives rise to the problem of the sphere of reason’s function when it has to decide between the scriptural and the perceptual.


            Great Mimamsakas have tried to grapple with this problem of the function of Reason in Revelation.  The field of Revelation embraces fields incapable of being covered by other sources of knowledge or objects of knowledge.  There can possibly be some objects which are embraced by the perpetual also falling in the field of revelation. In such contexts the perpetual field and the scriptural field coincide.  If there is unanimity between the two then there is nothing more to be said, the validity of the perceptual is fully guaranteed.  But if there is difference between the two which should prevail and it will rule out (badhita) the revelational for the revelational encroaches on the field of the perceptual.  Some others will hold that the revelational knowledge will rule out or override the perceptual knowledge and all other knowledge as well, for the revelational in addition to being super sensory also legislates for the perpetual.  Herein comes most of the struggles between the systems and sections of the Vedanta (Mimamsa).  The autonomy of the perceptual is sought to be maintained by those who claim that all knowledge is of the true and true; but the autonomy and sovereignty of the revelational is claimed by the revelationists who stick to the field of Mimamsa.


            In any case we are presented with the problem of revelation embracing the ordinary common man’s perceptual fields and the common man trying to legislate about the super sensory.


            One of the profoundest points not noted by the expositors of Sankara’s standpoint is that he had made the disjunction of fields as also the interpretation of reality dependent on these two standpoints.  The contrariett between the two is trenchantly stated in the form that what the revelation teaches is the Reality (Paramatrthika-satta), what the perception teaches or delivers is phenomenal reality (Vyavaharika Satta).  If you are the latter the perceptual is invaluable guide, and the area of its operation is all life as we know if of artha-karma and such dharma as are related to their preservation etc.  But if the Real Reality is sought after one has to accept the scriptural truth as real and true whatever may be the deliverances of perception and other instruments of knowledge.


            The radical diversity between the revelational and perceptional truths, however, was sought to be overcome by the revelational formula of Oneness (Ekamaevaadvitiyam ekam sat,) along with the equally emphatic utterances of the absolute non-duality, and the call to perceive oneness and not duality anywhere. The entire empirical field of experience as well as the linguistic usages and epistemology have provided only the possibility of dualism of duality and as such get set aside or overruled or obstructed by the scriptural knowledge. Further, it is only the scripture that gives utterance to this non-duality and Oneness not the other instruments of knowledge (Pramanas).  As such these texts of Oneness or Monism are unique differentiating features of the Veda-Upanisads.  Whereas the other texts of duality or organic even and behda-abheda are not so very unique.  This exclusive truth has its source only in the Upanisads.  Therefore, the arguments of Sankara give high or supreme priority to the monistic texts as the differential between the Sabda Pramana and the other pramanas.  It would appear this kind of reasoning on revelation in the realm of apologetics.  One could hardly charge Sankara of not being most loyal to the scripture provided we accept this differentiating view.  It is clear that it had led to the attempt to explain the other world which vanishes once this knowledge of experience of the truth of the Sabda becomes accomplished.


            The other acaryas do not think the same and try to reconcile, the world presented to other pramanas with the unique distinguishing feature or the Sabda – the monism.  But it is the attempt to bridge the gulf between the two realms, however, different in this respect that forms the basis of mimamsa.  Ramanuja seeks to reconcile the two by means of the conception of the Organic relationship of Saria-sariri between the Divine and the Universe and individuals which he held to be the Pradhana Pratitantra (Supreme or differentiating doctrine of his from other systems).  The empirical and the transcendental meet in the Unity of the organic experience of self-body where the former is the body and the latter is the self. The Sabda teaches the self (Sariri), and the others teach the body, both physical and physical (Sarira).  No doubt the bheda-abheda doctrine seeks the unity or oneness but it struggles with the atomistic psychology and physics, and hardly understands the functional monism that is exemplified in all experiences, spiritual or secular.  It is this truth that is expressed in the Upanisad which counsels dynamic Organism of Reality which embraces all levels of consciousness and all levels of reality, infinite down to the finite, spatial and temporal and cosmical.


            The Mimamsa has thus to mould itself to the patterns of Reality in the transcendental experience, whilst it joints hands with the nyaya and the samkhya in order to unify the transcendental with the psychological and the physical, external and internal, and the epistemological.  The Metaphysical Reality thus is the meaning of the empirical in Mimamsa of the Organic experience and explanation.


            Thus we can see that the logic of the Mimamsa moulds itself in the pattern of our most ultimate experiences.  To subordinate Mimamsa to the necessities of nyaya is to transform it utterly and make it meaningless in respect of the transcendental experiences.  The attempts to rationalize the yajnas and others have led to strange results and modifications and they too have failed to convince any one of their efficacies.  To identify all experiences and make them fall into one class has also been disastrous.  It is true that we can see universal and transcendental significance and symbolism in all things perceived or sensed, in the limited and the finite too but that does not entitle poetic imagination to the status of mimamsa.  Even when it is vision of the poetic nature it does not rise to the status of Mimamsa.  A clear seer-like triple awareness of the Oneness in all and as having become all, and paradoxically as All-containing which the Isa-Seer speaks of as the peak of Divine gnosis is the Mimamsa.


            If the basic principle of the Logic of the Mimamsa is reconciliation of valid utterances, the it follows that the principle must be stated in a wider form than it has originally appeared in the Systems.  The principle of consistency or non-self contradiction may be useful only within the limited sphere where one meets with contradiction.  The principle would be found to be at cross-purposes in the context of valid statements.  It is not itself, the test of validity and cannot be the rule or principle of validation.  The principle of coherency would demand the acceptance of the system or Absolute and awareness of its nature itself.  The question arises whether the instruments of knowledge that we have, including the Sabda do give or present the knowledge of the Whole.  Even the Sabda itself says that it is beyond all speech-na vag gacchati –and mind which are all capable of giving partial knowledge which can hardly fit in to yield us the whole knowledge.  But the question yet is though it may be impossible to arrive at the knowledge of the whole from the knowledge of the parts of sense, should it be so when the parts of knowledge  -valid statements of the Veda are put together? The principle of coherence is an idealistic principle but restricted to the field of perception it cannot lead to the knowledge of the whole from the knowledge of juxtaposing of the parts .The principle of synthesis of opposites thought of in Dialectical thought by Hegel also is restricted to the field of Change and evolution or the Organic, and should be able to embrace both the transcendent and the immanent but in the formulation of this principle again we have great difficulties for it includes other dialectics as well, such as the dialectic of the distincts. The dialectic principle underlying the relationship of distincts formulated by Benedetto Croce seems to come near the principle of reconciliation of the valid and the true or the real.  But it is a dynamic principle.


            Can we say that this Samanvaya principle is identical with this principle of Groce? This is a question of some importance to all who seek to give an explanation of the efforts to embrace divergent truths of several fields of experience for formulating a Real Philosophy.


            The logic of Mimamsa is dependent upon the method of reconciliation (Samanvaya) rather than Samnya (generalization) on the basis of common qualities.  Thus the work Mimamsyayam (Kena II.I) really seeks to enunciate the principle of reconciliation of diverse texts teaching diverse material so as to arrive at that real meaning and leading to that intuition of the Ultimate which is the Reality.  Thus we find the Samkhya also uses the two methods Samanya and Samnvaya.  Thus by the methods of inference which is samanyato drsta one arrives at the nature of that which is or has the qualities through the observation of qualities in all effect (Vikrtis) (Sam-Karika i67 Samnyatasu drstat atindriyasnam praturanumanat sam.  Karika 11: trigunam aviveki visayah Samnayam acetaman prasavadharmi).  Generalisations from common experiences like indictive inferences are indeed helpful in respect of non-sensuous objects or entities or which are extra-sensory or subtle.  But they have to be in the relation of causes and effects.  But this is certainly not applicable in the case of transcendental realities as such and one has to depend on aptavacana and Veda.  The term Samnvayat is used in the 15 Karika and almost all the commentators have taken this to mean Samnya or homogeneity which is but a variation of the word samanya (Generality).  The need for samanvaya is to show that diverse effects or differences have to be considered and reconciled and all this leads to the conception of one singly Avyakta and not many avyaktas.  The avibhaga nature of the whole universe (vaisvarupasya) is Being.  We have yet a question of great importance to settle and that pertains to the question of reality.  It is sometimes held that Sruti-Pramanas must be checked by the perceptual and the inferential.  If the scriptural is supersensuous and the super-inferential, then it appears that the demand that the scriptural should come to the bar of perception and inference is simply unthinkable.  Of course, in matters which are within the field of perception and inference it may be claimed that they are absolute and not the scriptural which may seek to throw a new light on the objects of perception and inference.  The perceptual and the inferential deal with the limited and fragmented reality for that is all that we get through them.  But the scriptural can throw a universal consciousness and give a new reality and truth to them in the context of that vast luminative consciousness.  Thus the claim that perception is valid and binding over the scriptural is extravagant on the whole.  No one can deny that there is not a difference in kind between the scriptural and the perceptional, the one being divine and the other being of the finite.  Unless there is claim that the two are one consciousness it is impossible to grant any comparison or parity between them.  The scripture itself says that the atman and brahman are one; is it with reference to their consciousness or essence or both.  The Vedanta Sutras claim that in all respects except in respect of Universal creative functions the soul and the brahman are equal.  If then the emancipated soul and the Divine are one except for this incapacity on the part of the not arrived at through generality or Samnayato drasta but through samanvaya.


            That the two methods were well-known and the approach through samanvaya is also the method of the Vedanta sutras as of the Samkhya can be seen.  The modern thinkers also find that these methods are valuable.  Comparative studies depend on both these methods in the interpretation of scriptures as well as philosophies.  Sentences and words are also sought to be interpreted by these two methods side by side. The usage statistics that is revealed in the philogical field of words and phrases is a method of Samanya (Generality or common meanings), and the reconciliation of passages called different import passages require certain mediating texts (ghaska srutis) that bring about reconciliation through insights and intuitions immanent in the scripture and help resolve the paradox of contradictory truths in the single Rality which is one and individible (Avibhagad vaisarupasya) or which is one (Ekam-nadvitiyam) (Avibhagena drstatvat V.V.IVin.4 & avibhaga vacanat; IV.2.15 ibid) Thus Samkhya speaks of prakrti as avibhaga in its form as Visva, whilst the Vedanta Sutras speak of the Brahman as avibhaga.  Both these are due to the samanvaya – harmonization – of the texts and experiences of the transcendental and the extra-sensory or super – sensory.


            It is accepting certain basic axioms of Reality that we are enabled to seek Samanvaya of al various and diverse experiences (anubhavas which lead us to the Real idea of the One undivided individual, is it a difference in kind or merely extensiveness.  It appears that it is a difference in kind for there are powers of consciousness denied of the soul.  But the question is whether perception is merely a question of degree of consciousness or difference in kind from the scriptural.  Those who claim that there is only limitation but not difference in kind hold that all knowledge, perceptive, inferential and scriptural are different only in degree and that all are of real objects.  But the question is whether the quality of knowledge is such as makes for correction action or activity, and it is precisely this inability to perform actions fully correctly with the help of perceptive knowledge that is mainly of the present condition (Vartamana), that leads to disease, disruption, defeat and sorrow (Duhkha).  God’s knowledge embraces the past, present and the future (Mattah Smrtir Jnanam apohanamca Gita. Xi). It is also seen that quality changes when quantity changes – concentration and expansion do vary inversely and in fact there is inversion in the flow of consciousness also.  This principle of inversion in movement is expressed as wave motion, or circular motion etc., there seem to be two axioms in mystic knowledge : (1) As in the macrocosm so it is in the microscosm and (2) There is always and invariably an inversion; the higher is the inversion of the lower, and vice versa.  These two principles reveal that the world knowledge is the inversion of the higher or transcendent knowledge, and in the intermediate steps there are inversions also alternation from one plane to another.


            It is this inversion of the above in the below that has given rise to the theories of unreality, illusion, reflection, (Prati-bimba) and so on, and whilst it shows that there is difference between the two yet there is also identity between the two conditions and statuses, where as the formal causality is different in both, the former being considered to be subtle and potential and the latter being considered to be gross and potential in the one theory and new and original in another system.  Whatever it is it is clear that the theory of inversion is profound truth which when recognized links up the whole in one Reality.

            Mimamsa logic in so far as it seeks to reconcile the other ways of knowing with the scriptural tries to connect and link up the many statuses of the One Reality as manifestations of the One Reality, and only in so far as the valour considerations are concerned does it affirm that the Highest is the One which manifests itself in and through the values of the many.  The Unity sustain the manyness.  Thus arise several kinds of logic, the logic of the Infinite, the logic of Systematic Unity, the Logic of the Universal and the Collective Society, the logic of the Organic mind and the logic of the Mechanical aggregates and machines.  If the real is all, these several logics should have to be reconciled and spared the contradiction that is the feature of their impact – the logic of negation, contradiction and illusion.


            Not only in respect of the practical rituals and rites and their ordering but also in the realm of beliefs and knowledges, vidyas, methods of attainment of the supramental knowledge, do we require a different logic the logic of the Mimamsa, the logic that is of the supersensible and super reasoning or inference and super analogy.  Aparoksa, divya, Jnana, Divya pratyaksa, Divyapramana is the transcendental knowledge (divyanubhavan which is no longer an anubhava but a bhava, a birth and a being in the Divine brahmabhuta, brahmaja).