Retrieving the Purva Mimamsa of Jaimini

Author: 
Clooney, Francis Xavier
Year: 
1984

     This thesis situates itself in the Mimamsa tradition, and has announced as its goal the 'retrieval' of the Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini as a text and system of thought distinguishable from Sabara's Bhasya. . . . the 'retrieval' attempted here is an effort to set apart the earliest Mimamsa text, the Sutras themselves, in order to study it in terms of the questions it imposes on us when we approach it. . . . I . . . suggest that these Sutras constitute an ancient and interesting understanding of the Vedic ritual, a 'theology' of the sacrifice expressed in a rational, manageable, and focused form." The study shows that it is "possible to comprehend the original text and the system it implies and articulates: a system of thought in which action and not substance is the fundamental reality; in which human values and goals are subordinated to the larger perspective of the sacrifice as the actualization of the Vedic world; and which thus presents an important alternative to the views of the person and the sacrifice presented in the Upanisads, the Brahmanas, and early Buddhism."
     To understand the contours of Jaimini's text, we . . . examine four texts chosen from four different adhyayas, attending to the differences among them in manner of reasoning, style, and purpose: (a) 9.4.22-27: whether or not certain Vedic texts require modification when introduced in ektypal rituals; (b) 8.1.11-19: a discussion of the source of derivation of certain ektypal rituals; (c) 7.1.1-12: an exposition of the general principle of the authorization and transfer of details. . . .; (d) 1.1.6-23: a discussion of the eternity of the word." The next chapter's "project . . . is to describe and discuss some of the words Jaimini uses regularly in the course of his arguments." After approaching "the Mimamsa of Jaimini through attention to the method and structure of his thought" and "investigating the kinds of thinking present in the text and the patterns of organization apparent in his terminology of argumentation," the study turns to "defining more precisely the major project of the Sutras: what are they about? . . . . The Sutras are about the sacrifice or, in Jaimini's own words, they are about dharma." In this chapter, "we . . . investigate the specificity of Jaimini's thought by asking about his view of the uniqueness of the Vedic ritual -- how it is different from ordinary experience and action -- and his understanding of dharma." The study then takes up the "theme of the place of the human in regard to the sacrifice by examining how Jaimini treats three 'human' issues: the status of the Vedic rsis in regard to the texts of each Veda with which they are traditionally connected; the status of the various Vedic sakhas, schools, each of which presents the sacrifice in its own fashion; the question of adhikara, concerning who is capable to perform Vedic sacrifices, to what extent and under what conditions. My thesis in regard to these issues is that Jaimini removes rsis, schools, and ritual eligibility from central focus, showing the human person to be simply one element in a much broader network of values and connections." Although the study does "not attempt to answer specific historical questions or establish a definite chronology, it . . . [does] afford new insights into the likely intellectual affinities of the Sutras and their system. In particular, Chapter 6 . . . take[s] up the question of Mimamsa's relation to the Brahmanas and Buddhism, and show[s] how it can be interpreted within the range of values and ideas available there." The concluding chapter approaches "the tradition of post-Jaimini Mimamsa by examining the role of apurva in the Bhasya of Sabara, with attention to the development of the doctrine in the schools of Kumarila and Prabhakara. . . . Our approach . . . [is] to trace the use of the word apurva and to ask what this use presumes and implies in marking out the contours of post-Jaimini Mimamsa.