free ebooks

A History of Sanskrit Literature by MacDonell

Is the Purva mimamsa or First Inquiry


of the later Upanishads are largely concerned with the Yoga doctrine. The lawbook of Manu in Book VI. refers to various details of Yoga practice. Indeed, it seems likely, owing to the theistic point of view of that work, that its Sankhya notions were derived from the Yoga system. The Mahabharata treats of Yoga in considerable detail, especially in Book XII. It is particularly prominent in the Bhagavadgita, which is even designated a yoga-castra. Belief in the efficacy of Yoga still prevails in India, and its practice survives. But its adherents, the Yogis, are at the present day often nothing more than conjurers and jugglers.

The exercises of mental concentration are in the later commentaries distinguished by the name of raja-yoga or "chief Yoga." The external expedients are called kriya-yoga, or "practical Yoga." The more intense form of the latter, in later works called hatha-yoga, or "forcible Yoga," and dealing for the most part with suppression of the breath, is very often contrasted with raja-yoga.

Among the eight branches of Yoga practice the sitting posture (asana), as not only conducive to concentration, but of therapeutic value, is considered important. In describing its various forms later writers positively revelled, eighty-four being frequently stated to be their normal number. In the hatha-yoga there are also a number of other postures and contortions of the limbs designated mudra. The best-known

mudra, called khechari, consists in turning the tongue back towards the throat and keeping the gaze fixed on a point between the eyebrows. Such practices, in conjunction with the suppression of breath, were capable of producing a condition of trance. There is at least the one well-authenticated case of a Yogi named Haridas who in the thirties wandered about in Rajputana and Lahore, allowing himself to be buried for money when in the cataleptic condition. The burial of the Master of Ballantrae by the Indian Secundra Dass in Stevenson's novel was doubtless suggested by an account of this ascetic.

In contrast with the two older and intimately connected dualistic schools of the Sankhya and Yoga, there arose about the beginning of our era the only two, even of the six orthodox systems of philosophy, which were theistic from the outset. One of them, being based on the Vedas and the Brahmanas, is concerned with the practical side of Vedic religion; while the other, alone among the philosophical systems, represents a methodical development of the fundamental non-dualistic speculations of the Upanishads. The former, which has only been accounted a philosophical system at all because of its close connection with the latter, is the Purva-mimamsa or "First Inquiry," also called Karma-mimamsa or "Inquiry concerning Works," but usually simply Mimamsa. Founded by Jaimini, and set forth in the Karma-mimamsa Sutras, this system discusses the sacred ceremonies and the rewards resulting from their performance. Holding the Veda to be uncreated and existent from all eternity, it lays special stress on the proposition that articulate sounds are eternal, and on the consequent doctrine that the connection of a word with its sense is not due to convention, but is by nature inherent in the word itself. Owing to its lack of philosophical interest, this system has not as yet much occupied the attention of European scholars.

The oldest commentary in existence on the Mimamsa Sutras is the bhashya of Cabara Svamin, which in its turn was commented on about 700 A.D. by the great Mimamsist Kumarila in his Tantra-varttika and in his Cloka-varttika, the latter a metrical paraphrase of Cabara's exposition of the first aphorism of Patanjali. Among the later commentaries on the Mimamsa Sutras the most important is the Jaiminiya-nyaya-mala-vistara of Madhava (fourteenth century).

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us