From the Jacket
Tantravarttika is the magnum opus of Kumarila Bhatta, a seventh century thinker and greatest exponent of the Purva Mimamsa system. Founder of the Bhatta school of Mimamsa, he was a native of South India. This work is a commentary on a part of Kumarila's commentary on Purvamimamsa Sutra of Jaimini and Sabara-svamin's Bhasya, mainly in prose, running from Adhyaya I, Pada II to the end of Adhyaya III. This is a unique work showing the deep scholarship of the author. Here Kumarila has shown his mastery over other schools of thought as well. His other works are Slokavartika, a commentary on I. 1 of the Purvamimamsa Sutra of Jaimini. This great work was translated for the first time into English by Dr. Ganganatha Jha and published in Bibliotheca Indica Series, of which this is a reprint.
The translator, Dr. Ganganatha Jha. (1871) was a versatile scholar. He was a Professor of Sanskrit in the old Muir Central College Allahabad, then the Principal of the government Sanskrit College, Banaras and then the vice-Chancellor of the Allahabad University for nine years. Though engaged in all these multifarious duties he was able to write more than fifty works on different Indian philosophical systems. In addition to the tantravarttika, he also translated Kumarila's Slokavarttika and Sabara's Bhasya into English. He was the first scholar to write a thesis on 'The Prabhakara School of Purvamimamsa'
The Introduction to a book like the Tantra-Vartika is expected to contain (1) an account of the Author and (2) a brief account of the contents of the work. As regards (1), I have secured a contribution from my esteemed friend, Pandit Gopinath Kaviraj of the Sanskrit College, Benares, which is given below. As regards (2), I have nothing very much to add to what I have already said in my work on the Prabhakara School of Purva Mimansa. I have however come across certain criticism upon this latter work, and I shall take the opportunity afforded by this in Introduction to state how far, if at all, I am prepared to modify my earlier opinions in the light of the said criticisms.
Pandit Pashupatinath Shastri has just brought out his book on the Introduction to Purva Mimansa. On page 10 of this book the learned writer demurs to my view that Kumarila has denied the creation of the world by God. He admits that "Kumarila has said that God does neither superintend nor is the cause of this creation, and that the creation or dissolution of the world is impossible." This is enough for my purposes; what was the motive that led Kumarila to deny all this belongs to a sphere of psychological research which is beyond the purview of my somewhat dull intellect.
As regards Prabhakara's view, Pandit Pashupatinath Shastri says: "If we accept this view (that the Upanisads are Arthavada) the Vedanta darshana will be lost to the Prabhakaras. The loss of such a system is not a trifling matter. If it be admitted that one text is not Arthavada, it can be no longer said that other texts of the same class are mere Arthavada."
One is surprised at finding such an opinion coming from a professed student of Purva Mimansa, which teems with Adhikaranas among which, while some passages are regarded as Arthavada, others "of the same class" are not regarded as such.
The writer admits here also that "the Prabhakaras have denied the creation of the world"; but here, as before, he proceeds to examine the motive underlying the denial.
In an important matter like this, writers like Kumarila and Prabhakara, having made a categorical denial, would certainly have supplemented it by an equally categorical affirmation of creation by God if they had held it to be true; and they would not have left their motive to be unraveled by a writer appearing more than 1, 000 years later.
We know that Kumarila and Prabhakara were firm believers in the soul and therefore they have both devoted a section of their works to that subject. If they had been equally firm in their belief in a creator-God, they would certainly have devoted an important section of their work to that important subject also. This they have not done; and their negative view also with regard to the existence of a creator they have brought in only as a side issue. The learned Shastri is at pains to show that these two writers are not atheistic, Nastika. I may be permitted to point out that there is a confusion of thought on this question. In the domain of Sanskrit philosophical literature, the word 'Nastika' is not generally synonymous with 'Atheist.' In fact the common definition of the Nastika that we meet with is that he is one who decries, i.e., does not believe in, the authority of the Vedas;-or in more philosophical works, as one who does not believe in the existence of a soul or a world other than the physical. If we take the word 'Nastika's in these connotations, certainly neither Kumarila nor Prabhakara is a Nastika, because both the them uphold the authority of the Vedas and believe in the existence of soul and of the other world. This disposes of the reference to the Nyayaratnavali, which has declared the Bhatta and the Prabhakara systems to be Astika.
In Chapter II, the writer, towards the end, has drawn a distinction between words conveying their meaning and giving rise to valid cognitions. But in this he has apparently missed the whole point of the theory that every, cognition is self-sufficient in its validity. If the word conveys a meaning, that is, it brings about a cognition, that cognition must be valid per se, and for the sake of validity there need be no dependence upon anything else; so that if according to the author a word has to be dependent, for the sake of validity, upon other words, it comes to the same thing as to say that it does not convey any meaning at all.
As regards the cognition of the soul, if the cognisor is Ahampratyayagamya, it means that he is 'the object of the notion of I'; and I would certainly accept the verdict of the Shastradipika rather than that of its very modern commentary.
Further, we have understood Kumarila's position to be that a knowledge and recognition of the soul is essential for the purpose of the performance of one's duties, and in that sense it is essential in a way to final liberation. But it is not the direct cause of liberation, as has been held by other philosophers. Knowledge is certainly necessary; but only as an accessory. It is in this sense also that knowledge of the soul is subservient to Karma. The writer admits that knowledge alone is not enough to destroy all Karmas and hence lead to liberation. That is exactly the view that I hold as Kumarila's, and I fail to see where I have not paid attention to the context.
As regards Pandit Kuppuswami Shastri's remarks in the paper read by him at the Oriental Conference, I have nothing to say. Until we have actually discovered the works of the various Vrttikaras, we must agree to differ on the subject; but I do feel inclined to accept the conclusions which the learned Pandit has drawn. But this question, as also the question of the relationship between Kumarila and Prabhakara must remain an open one, until the older vrttis have been discovered and also until the work of Prabhakara himself must hold our should in patience and welcome all contributions from such learned colleagues as Pandit Kuppuswami Shastri and Pandit Pashupatinath Shastri.
I cannot let this opportunity pass of acknowledging my obligations to (1) Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Chitradhara Mishra, with whom I read all the Mimansa that I know, (2) to my fried, Babu Govinda-dasa, of Benares, my life-long 'literary mentor,' and (3) to my patron, the late Maharaja Laksmishvara Singh Bahadur of Darbhanga to whose kindness and loving care I owe what I am, have, and am going to be in the world.
The work has taken long to be completed. This has been due to causes over which no one seems to have had control
Brahma Sutras (79)
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