The Veda, as per the commentary of Sayana, is the superhuman means to know the way of attaining the desired result and alleviating the undesired one. The incantations of the Veda are of diverse import. In course of time, the meaning of the Vedic incantations became unintelligible due to various reasons and commentaries were required to explain the meaning. Mimamsa is the sastra developed in India as an aid to understand the meaning of the Veda. It gives various principles in twelve chapters for the interpretation of the Vedic incantations. Its main focus is of course on the performance of the rituals.
The principles of interpretations became very important in course of time that the later writers on Dharmasastra and other sastra too resorted to them for drawing conclusion in their sastra. M.M.P.V. Kane gave a description of them in his History of Dharmasastra. Shri Sarkar and other also wrote books on this subject. The present book by Dr. Limaye is a book on the influence of Mimamsa rules of interpretation on popular commentaries of Dharmasastra. It explains how the commentators on Dharmasastra were influenced by the rules of interpretation of Mimansa sastra.
Dr. S. K. Limaye was a Sanskrit scholar from Nagpur who got his education in Amaravati and Nagpur. Out of his love for Sanskrit he approached the then famous scholars in Nagpur and studied Mimamsa and other subjects. He served the Morris College in Nagpur and retired from services as Sanskrit Lecturer. He rendered his services even after his retirement to various institutions. He was the member of Academic Council of Kavikulaguru Kalidas Sanskrit University, Ramtek. This thesis by Dr. Limaye was appreciated even by Dr. Gopinath Kaviraj, one of the referees.
Mimamsa, which etymologically means the thought inspired by the desire to know, is the science of interpreting the Vedic sentences. It is the traditional way of explaining the Vedas. It is also called as the Nyaya. The Mimamsa sastra developed at a time when people got lost in the Vedic tradition and the Vedas were exposed to misintepretation by the mediocre people.
बिभेत्यल्पश्रुताद वेदो मामयं प्रहरिष्यति।
Thus it is popularly stated in the texts of philosophy that the Veda is afraid of a person who is ill-versed in the Vedic tradition that he would definitely disturb the Vedic import. This age old saying may look funny and symbolic but the content is very serious that the people of less knowledge will pollute the ideology of the Vedas with their immature thoughts. This is exactly what happened in the past which brough t an opportunity for the creation of various Mimamsa principles to systematize the Mimamsa sastra. This was the need of time thousands of years ago and the things have not changed drastically now. Even now there is an obvious need to interpret the Vedas in the light of the principles.
The actual performance of the srauta sacrifices involves many intriguing issues like the deity, substance, order, procedure, injunctions and arthavadas. Many a time it poses problems regarding proper interpretation. The Mimamsa sastra .Iias developed many priciples or maxims discussing the very intricate problems of these performanes. These principles were found very useful in ascertaining the import of the Vedas. The maxims are very popular among the Sanskrit scholars that very frequently do the Sanskrit scholars resort to them while interperting their principle texts. Major part of the Sanskrit commentarial texts of shastric content derive authenticity for their final theories from the Mimamsa maxims only.
The Vyakarana, Nyaya and Sahitya texts are clear examples of this feature.
There were scholars in the past who gave a serious thought to the analysis of principles of Mimamsa. But, around the third century B. C., Jaimini studied many of his predecessors and had given an orderly shape to the Mimamsa sastra. His text, the Mimamsa sutra, is in2745 sutras divided into twelve chapters. His scholarly text required an exhaustive scholium for a clear understanding of the system and Sabaraswamin of the fifth century A.D. explained the sutra in a very detailed manner dividing the sutra in 907 sections or adhikarana each presenting the discussion about a particular Mimamsa topic and the final conclusion arrived at Later, Prabhakarabhatta and Kumarilabhatta of 600-650 A. D., commented on the Bhasya of Sabara in their own paving way to the formation of two distinct schools. In course of time many scholars also at- tempted at presenting the summary of the sections and maxims in small treatises.
In recent times, Dr. K. L. Sirkar worked on the Mimamsa rules of interpretation in the Tagore lecture series for the first time: Dr. Ganganath Jha, Dr. Garge, Dr. P. V. Kane, Dr. Devasthali and others also threw light on the utility of these Mimamsa principles in vyavahara and other contexts. The relation of Mimamsa with many other sastras became evident in passing time.
Now, coming to the relation of the Mimamsa and Dharmasastra it can be stated without any hesitation that the very subject matter of the Mimamsa sastra is Dharma only. The very first sutra of the Mimamsa sastra reads अथातो धर्मजिज्ञासा.
meaning: 'now therefore a desire to know the Dharma'. The famous sentence of Slokavartika of Kumarila also substantiates this as:
It means that when the Veda makes an exposition of Dharma, the Mimamsa sastra fills the part of being an apparatus for knowing Dharma. It supplies the directive principles. These principles are sometimes found to be applicable in the context of the Vedic sacrifices and common daily life also. Hence, a need arose to interpret these principles demarcating their jurisdiction. Hence, the principles too have to be carefully sifted out keeping in view the utility of respective sastra.
Both the Mimamsa and Dharmasastra deal with Dharma with a different objective; the Dharma dealt with in the Mimamsa has more sacrificial significance and the Dharma of the Dharma sastra has social application. The ultimate motive for both of them is one: Dharma. The ancient Mimamsa tradition considers the performance of sacrifices as per the injunctions of the Veda as Dharma while the Smrti and Dharma sastra texts present a wider view and include broad range of Dharma in consonance with the social requirements.
The Dharma sastra texts make it very clear that their source of Dharma is the Veda alone. The Manu smrti (2-13) says: धर्म जिज्ञासमानानां प्रमाणं प्रमाणं परमं श्रुति: The Veda is the ultimate authority for those who desire to know the Dharma. It also mentions clearly (2-6) that the entire Veda is the source of Dharma followed by Smrti and the conduct of the knowers of those Smriti: वेदोखिलो धर्ममूलं स्मृतिशीले च तदविदाम् I Thuswhen the Dharma sastra texts deal with the exposition of Dharma it is but natural for the expounders to turn now and then to the Mimamsa texts for substantiating their views John Edge, the Chief justice, Allahabad High Court aptly remarked question is how the texts of the Vashishtha are to be construed. It must clearly be construed according to the rules of the Hindu Law, if athoritative rules on the subject exist rules for the construction of the sacred text and law of the Hindus do exist cannot be disputed, although those rules have been frequently overlooked or not referred to by Mr. Colebrook" (From the book-Introduction to the Purva Mimamsa by Dr. Pashupatinath Shastri).
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