Mimamsa


Mimamsa
/mee mahm"sah/, n. Hinduism.
a school of philosophy formed originally to explain the Vedas.
[1780-90; < Skt mimamsa inquiry, examination]

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Probably the earliest of the six orthodox systems (darshans) of Indian philosophy.

Mimamsa is fundamental to Vedanta and has deeply influenced Hindu law. Its aim is to give rules for the interpretation of the Vedas and to provide a philosophical justification for the observance of Vedic ritual. The earliest work of the system, the Mimamsa-sutra of Jaimini (с 4th century BC), was followed by the writings of a long line of interpreters and teachers, notably Kumarila Bhatta and Prabhakara Mishra (8th century). Kumarila is credited with using Mimamsa to defeat Buddhism in India; Prabhakara was a realist who believed that sense perceptions were true.

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Sanskrit  Mīmāṃsā 

      (“Reflection,” or “Critical Investigation”), one of the six orthodox systems (darshans) of Indian philosophy. Probably the earliest of the six, Mimamsa is fundamental to Vedānta and has deeply influenced the formulation of Hindu law.

      The aim of Mimamsa is to give rules for the interpretation of the Vedas and to provide a philosophical justification for the observance of Vedic ritual. Because Mimamsa is concerned with the earlier parts of the Vedas (called the Karmakāṇda), it is also referred to as Pūrva-Mīmāṃsā (“Prior Study”), or Karma-Mīmāṃsā (“Study of the Acts”). Vedānta, which deals with the later portion, the Upaniṣads, is called Uttara-Mīmāṃsā (“Posterior Study”), or Jñāna-Mīmāṃsā (“Study of Knowledge”).

      The earliest work of the system is the Mīmāṃsā-sūtra of Jaimini (c. 4th century BC). A major commentary was written by Śabarasvāmin (1st century BC?), who was followed by a long line of interpreters and teachers, most notably Kumārila Bhaṭṭa and Prabhākara (7th/8th century AD).

      The goal of Mimamsa is to provide enlightenment on dharma, which in this school is understood as the set of ritual obligations and prerogatives that, if properly performed, maintains the harmony of the world and furthers the personal goals of the performer. Since dharma cannot be known through either perception or reasoning, one must depend on revelation in the Veda, which is considered eternal, authorless, and absolutely infallible.

      To find out what one's dharma is on specific occasions, examples of direct or implicit command in the Vedic text must be relied upon. If the command is implicit, one must judge from parallels; if a text fails to detail how a priest proceeds with an action, this detail must be provided from other texts. This concern with precise statement necessitates meticulous examination of the structure of a sentence conveying a command.

      Although it was purely practical in origin, Mimamsa became a powerful intellectual force. Mimamsa, in the person of Kumārila, is traditionally credited with the defeat of Buddhism in India. It has also contributed to the direction, method, and content of Hindu erudition.

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Universalium. 2010.

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