The Mimansa & Vedanta Philosophy

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The Mimansa & Vedanta Philosophy:

The Mimansa & Vedanta Philosophy Dr Kanchan Saxena


THE MIMANSA PHILOSOPHY The Mimansa is called the Purva-Mimansa while Vedanta is called the Uttra-Mimansa. The former is earlier than the latter, in the sense that it deals with rituals, while the latter is concerned with knowledge.


Literature Jaimini’s sutra in twelve elaborate chapters, laid the foundation of Purva Mimansa. Sabarswami wrote the major commentary or Bhashya on this work. The two most important are Kumarila Bhatta and Prabhakara, who founded the two schools of Mimansa. The philosophy of the mimansa school may be discussed under three heads namely, theory of knowledge Metaphysics religion and theology

Literature (contd..):

The mimansa believes in the reality of the world with all its diverse objects. It rejects, therefore the Buddhist theory of voidness and momentariness as well as the Advaita theory of the unreality of the phenomenal world. The souls are permanent eternal substances and so also are the material elements by the combination of which the world is made. Mimansa metaphysics is pluralistic and realistic. Literature (contd..)

The Mimansa’s conception of soul:

The Mimansa’s conception of soul The soul is an eternal, infinite substance, which is related to a real body in a real world and it survives death to be able to reap the consequences of its action performed here. Consciousness is not the essence of the soul, but an adventitious quality which arises when some conditions are present. There are as many souls as there are individuals.

Concept of Dharma in Mimansa:

Concept of Dharma in Mimansa Jaimini defines dharma as a good which is of the nature of a command. It is a prescription of the Vedas, which indicates the nature of good and evil, and impels the self to realize the highest good. Dharma can be revealed by the vedic prescriptions only, it is not apprehended by perception, inference, comparison or any other means of knowledge.

Concept of Dharma in Mimansa (contd..):

Kumarila recognizes two kinds of duties, secular and scriptural or non temporal. The secular duties fulfil perceptible secular ends. The scriptural duties fulfill imperceptible supersensuous ends. They are of the two kinds, i.e. conditional duties and unconditional duties. The former are empirical duties for the realization of desired ends. The latter are obligatory occasional duties i.e. bath in the Ganges on the occasion of the solar eclipse and the lunar eclipse. Concept of Dharma in Mimansa (contd..)


Apurva The performance of prescribed acts generates an unseen agency (Apurva) which produces their fruition at a later time. The deferred fruition of the performance of duties is due to the mediation of Apurva.

Liberation and its Means :

Liberation and its Means Kumarila and Prabhakara consider the nature of liberation, and the means of its attainment. Kumarila regards liberation as negative in character, and consequently, eternal. Liberation is due to absolute extinction of merits and demerits. When they are completely destroyed, the body, which is the vehicle of experience, is destroyed. Kumarila regards action and knowledge necessary for the attainment of release. An aspirant for release should refrain from forbidden acts which produce suffering and prescribed acts which generate happiness.

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‘Vedanta’ literally means’ the end of the ‘Vedas’. Primarily the word stood for the Upanishads though afterwards its denotation widened to include all thoughts, developed out of the Upanishads. The Vedanta Philosophy

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The central theme is that enunciated in the Upanishads - the doctrine of Brahman and the embodiment of the unconditioned self. The great aim of all vedanta teaching is to prove the reality of Atman and Brahman and to establish their complete identity. It teaches the essential oneness of all things. Badrayama’s Brahma-sutra is the chief text of Vedanta philosophy

Schools of Vedanta:

Schools of Vedanta Advaita Vedanta (Shankaracharya) Visistadvaita Vedanta (Ramanujacharya) Dvait Vedanta (Madhvacharya) Dvaitadvita Vedanta (Nimbarkacharya) Shudhadvaita (Nimbarkacharya) Achintaya (Chaitanya Maha- Bhedabheda prabhu)

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The most common question on which the schools of the Vedanta are divided is; What is the nature of the relation between the self (JIVA) and God (Brahman)?

Shankara-Vedanta (Advaita Vedanta):

Shankara-Vedanta (Advaita Vedanta) Shankaracharya was the greatest philosopher among the Indian thinkers. He emphasizes the monoistic tendency in the Upanishads and develop it into a systematic Advaitavada. He emphasizes the reality of unconditioned and unqualified (Nirguna) Bhahman, and regards God, the individual souls and the world as appearances due to indefinable principle called cosmic nescience (Maya) which is neither real nor unreal, but indefinable.

The Atman:

The Atman According to Shankaracharya the Atman is the universal self. It is Brahman, the absolute, the supreme reality. Jiva is the individual or empirical self. It is the Atman limited by the body, the sense organs , manas, buddhi and the likes, which are its limiting adjuncts. Atman is the transaendental, metaphysical self. Jiva is the empirical phenomenonal self.

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The Atman is of the nature of pure consciousness. It is eternally pure, conscious, and liberated. It is the eternal, unchangeable, absolute, formless, one supreme reality. It is different from the empirical self. But the empirical self is not different from it. The Atman is its reality.

The Empirical self (Jiva):

The Empirical self (Jiva) The empirical self is the knower, enjoyer and active agent. It acquires merits and demerits and experiences there fruits. It is subject to transmigration, lives an embodied life in the empirical world, and is capable of bondage and liberation. Though it is non-different from the Atman, the supreme self and immortal in its essential nature, mortality is attributed to it owing to its actions due to nescience.

The Concept of Brahman:

The Concept of Brahman Brahman is the only ontological reality in Shankara-Vedanta. Brahman is existence, knowledge and bliss. Brahman is limitless and infinite. Brahman is the eternally accomplished being. It does not change, increase and decrease, grow and develop.

Ishvara (God):

Ishvara (God) God is the determinate Brahman-in Shankara-vedanta. He is not the unconditioned, indeterminate, attributeless Brahman. He is Brahman conditioned by cosmic nescience (maya). Though Brahman is attribute- less it is said to be endowed with empirical attributes for the sake of prayer.

Maya: (Avidya):

Maya: (Avidya) Shankaracharya uses ‘Maya’ and avidya, the two words synonymously. Brahman conditioned by Maya is Ishvara (God). Maya is his power or energy, the source of the names and forms, which are modified into the phenomena of the world, and which are neither real nor unreal, but indefinable.

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Maya is cosmic nescience. It is an indefinable principle. It is ontologically unreal, since Brahman is the only ontological reality. But it is not absolutely unreal like a hair’s horn, it is real enough to project the multiple world of appearances.

Ramanuja-Vedanta (Visistadvaitavad):

Ramanuja-Vedanta (Visistadvaitavad) Ramanujacharya was the chief propounder of the doctrine of qualified monoism (Visistadvaitavada). He criticized Shankaracharya’s monoism and established the ontological reality of God, the individual souls and the world and regarded the souls and the world as attributes or modes of God.

The concept of Brahman: God:

The concept of Brahman: God Brahman is the ‘Supreme person’ endowed with innumerable supreme and auspicious qualities and devoid of all impure qualities. He is the infinite reality by nature and qualities; there is no other supreme reality. He is possessed of truth or reality, knowledge and bliss.

The Self (Jiva) and consciousness :

The Self (Jiva) and consciousness The Jiva is the individual self. It is different from the body, life, the sense-organs, mind and intellect, it is different from the psychophysical organism. It is the knower, enjoyer and active agent. It is self luminous and manifests itself without the aid of knowledge. It is the abode of knowledge and has attributive consciousness.

Bondage and Liberalion:

Bondage and Liberalion Bondage and liberation depend on the will of God, according to Ramanuja. The essential purity of the self is concealed by a beginning less series of Karmas due to avidya at the will of God. This is bondage. The veil of Karmas is removed by devotion, meditation, and knowledge as His will. This is release which is community of nature with God, and not identify with Him. The self does not lose its identity in God in the state of release. The self is not indentical with Brahman. The Identity texts indicate the essential similarity between them. They are different from each other.

Refutation of Maya :

Refutation of Maya Ramanujacharya has refuted Shankara’s doctrine of maya. Shankaracharya maintaisn that one undifferentiated, inderminate, self-luminious absolute (Brahman) is real, and that God, souls and the material world are unreal appearances due to some defect. First Ramanuja contents that nescience must subsist in something. It can not abide in the individual soul (Jiva), since it is a product of nescience, an unreal appearance. Nescience can not abide in Brahman, since it is self luminuous and of the nature of knowledge which is contradictory to nescience.

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Therefore Brahman, which is of the nature of pure knowledge, can not be the locus of nescience. Nescience can not abide in any locus. Secondly, nescience can not veil the self-luminous nature of Brahman, since self–luminosity which is its essence would be destroyed. Third and fourth Shankaracharya maintains that the self-luminious subject-objectless consciousness apprehends itself as countless subjects and objects owing to some defect in itself. Sixthly Shankaracharya maintains that nesciene is destroyed by the integral knowledge of the identity of Brahman and the self. Lastly, there can be no cessation of nescience, since there is no knowledge which can destroy it.

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