pUrva mImAMsA question

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Sep 8 00:00:59 UTC 1998

While analyzing sureSvara's vArttika on Sankara's commentary to the
bRhadAraNyaka upanishad (BU), I find a particular argument very hard to
follow. I would appreciate pointers from list members regarding the
pUrva mImAMsA aspect of the following.

One distinctive position held by Sankara and his disciple is that, as
the Atman is beyond all action, meditation on the Self cannot be
enjoined in the scripture. This argument does not automatically mean
that meditation on the Self is prohibited. The thrust of this argument
is that Self-knowledge cannot be obtained as a result of ritual action
(which may be enjoined), consisting of meditation on Brahman. Therefore,
there is no need to combine ritual karma and jnAna.

Still, as regards the sentence "AtmA vA are drashTavyaH, SrotavyaH,
mantavyaH, nididhyAsitavyaH" (maitreyI brAhmaNa - BU 2. 4. 5; 4. 5. 6),
Sankara accepts that it can be seen as a restrictive injunction (niyama
vidhi), regarding meditation on the Self, while sureSvara accepts that
it can be seen as an excluding injunction (parisaMkhyA vidhi), that
eliminates meditation on the not-Self. Practically, the two
interpretations mean the same thing - while Sankara accepts meditation
only on the Self, sureSvara rejcts all meditation on the not-Self. What
they both reject is the possibility that the above quoted sentence is an
initial injunction (apUrva vidhi) or an injunction regarding eligibility
(adhikAra vidhi). This portion of the argument makes perfect sense
within advaita vedAnta.

What is extremely difficult to follow is this. In the discussion under
BU 4. 4. 21-22, the vArttika-kAra argues that if an injunction is only
restrictive (niyama vidhi) or eliminative (parisaMkhyA vidhi), then it
has no eligible person to address itself to. In such a case, an
injunction concerning karma or its fruit would not be possible. This is
so even for the karmakANDa, so that it would be quite impossible for the
jnAnakANDa to enjoin meditation on the Self.

My question is, do not even the niyama or parisaMkhyA kinds of
injunction presume action, and therefore, a sense of agency? It would
seem that even in restricting a certain kind of action or in excluding
other kinds of action, an intelligent agent is necessarily assumed. The
adhikAra aspect can be taken care of by saying that all human beings are
entitled. What does the pUrva mImAMsA system say about the agent, with
respect to niyama and parisaMkhyA vidhis? Or is this particular argument
of sureSvara meant only against the possibility of adhikAra, and not
really about the basic sense of agency itself?


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