Yogamimansa | Mimansa Darshan | Mimansa Yoga | Mimansa Yoga Philosophy


Of the six orthodox
schools of Vedic knowledge, the Mimamsa school is now little-known and may even
be said to have died out entirely in India. However, as a philosophical
approach dedicated to the proper performance of Vedic ritual and the recitation
of mantras, its influence can still be felt very strongly. As a school of
?prior inquiry?, or Purva Mimamsa, it
is concerned with the theory behind ancient Vedic practice – the correct
performance of sacrifices. This topic actually forms the bulk of the Vedas
themselves, which list thousands of Mantras to be used in Vedic ritual and
precise instructions on how to use them. These rituals still form the backbone
of Hindu religious practice in India, and the precision behind their
performance is a direct legacy of Mimamsa philosophy.

The Importance of
Vedic rituals.

Mimamsa means ?inquiry?
and this philosophical school often goes by the name Purva Mimamsa, or ?prior inquiry? distinguishing it from the
?latter inquiry? (UttaraMimamsa) of
the Vedanta school. The ?prior inquiry? in question concerns the karma-kanda or ritualistic parts of the
Vedas, in contrast to the jnana-kandaor
knowledge-based philosophies arising from the study of the Upanishads. Mimamsa
philosophy may be seen as the philosophy that supplies the rational basis for
the precise and faithful practice of original Vedic ritual. It considers the
entire Veda as revealed scripture, and provides a rationale for the powers
contained within the Vedic hymns, or mantras. As such, the Mimamsa philosophy
is strongly in favour of ritualism and social duty, and against mysticism, or
any philosophy arising from the individual?s inner experience.

Mimamsa Philosophy.

The ritualistic
instructions of the Vedas were thought to have their own exceptional power,
representing the highest source of knowledge available to man. It is important
to note that early Mimamsa was an atheistic doctrine placing all its faith on
the Vedic injunctions themselves ? meaning that the correct performance of
mantra and ritual was itself possessed of ultimate power. Only Vedic ritual
could bring about the simultaneous illumination of knowledge, knower and known,
and was therefore the highest action available to man. The correct performance
of Vedic scacrifice was considered the only source of dharma (righteousness)
and also the mechanism of karma. Correct performance of ritual led to reward,
and the failure to perform ritual led to punishment, which individuals would
receive in Heaven or Hell, respectively. The correct operation of reward and
punishment was attributed to a secret, unseen power or Shakti called apurva.

Developments in
Mimamsa Philosophy.

Early Mimamsa was very
strictly based upon the rewards and punishments achieved from the proper
performance of Vedic ritual, to such an extent that one of its main proponents,
Prabhakara taught that all parts of the Vedas not containing instructions should be ignored. In Mimamsa?s later
developments, we see changes that could be attributed to developments within
the contemporary Vedanta school, or to the influence of Buddhism. The focus on
Heaven and Hell, or reward and punishment, shifts tomoksha (enlightenment) based on the detached performance of dutiful
action. The performance of necessary Vedic rituals in a state of detachment
would ultimately lead to the cessation of karmas; mind and sense organs would
withdraw, and the soul would retreat to something like a deep-sleep state.

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