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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

The sutras of Mima@msa are attributed to Jaimini


Purva Mima@msa (from the root _man_ to think--rational conclusions) cannot properly be spoken of as a system of philosophy. It is a systematized code of principles in accordance with which the Vedic texts are to be interpreted for purposes of sacrifices.


[Footnote 1: The word "_dars'ana_" in the sense of true philosophic knowledge has its earliest use in the _Vais'e@sika sutras_ of Ka@nada (IX. ii. 13) which I consider as pre-Buddhistic. The Buddhist pi@takas (400 B.C.) called the heretical opinions "_ditthi_" (Sanskrit--dr@sti from the same root _d@rs'_ from which dars'ana is formed). Haribhadra (fifth century A.D.) uses the word Dars'ana in the sense of systems of philosophy (_sarvadars'anavacyo' rtha@h--@Sa@ddars'anasamuccaya_ I.). Ratnakirtti (end of the tenth century A.D.) uses the word also in the same sense ("_Yadi nama dars'ane dars'ane nanaprakaram sattvatak-@sanam uktamasti._" _K@sa@nabha@ngasiddhi_ in _Six Buddhist Nyaya tracts_, p.20). Madhava (1331 A.D.) calls his Compendium of all systems of philosophy, _Sarvadars'anasa@mgra@na_. The word "_mata_" (opinion or view) was also freely used in quoting the views of other systems. But there is no word to denote 'philosophers' in the technical sense. The Buddhists used to call those who held heretical views "_tairthika._" The words "siddha," "_jnanin_," etc. do not denote philosophers,

in the modern sense, they are used rather in the sense of "seers" or "perfects."]


The Vedic texts were used as mantras (incantations) for sacrifices, and people often disputed as to the relation of words in a sentence or their mutual relative importance with reference to the general drift of the sentence. There were also differences of view with regard to the meaning of a sentence, the use to which it may be applied as a mantra, its relative importance or the exact nature of its connection with other similar sentences in a complex Vedic context. The Mima@msa formulated some principles according to which one could arrive at rational and uniform solutions for all these difficulties. Preliminary to these its main objects, it indulges in speculations with regard to the external world, soul, perception, inference, the validity of the Vedas, or the like, for in order that a man might perform sacrifices with mantras, a definite order of the universe and its relation to man or the position and nature of the mantras of the Veda must be demonstrated and established. Though its interest in such abstract speculations is but secondary yet it briefly discusses these in order to prepare a rational ground for its doctrine of the mantras and their practical utility for man. It is only so far as there are these preliminary discussions in the Mima@msa that it may be called a system of philosophy. Its principles and maxims for the interpretation of the import of words and sentences have a legal value even to this day. The sutras of Mima@msa are attributed to Jaimini, and S'abara wrote a bha@sya upon it. The two great names in the history of Mima@msa literature after Jaimini and S'abara are Kumarila Bha@t@ta and his pupil Prabhakara, who criticized the opinions of his master so much, that the master used to call him guru (master) in sarcasm, and to this day his opinions pass as _guru-mata_, whereas the views of Kumarila Bha@t@ta pass as _bha@t@ta-mata_ [Footnote ref 1]. It may not be out of place to mention here that Hindu Law (_sm@rti_) accepts without any reservation the maxims and principles settled and formulated by the Mima@msa.

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