Read this article to learn about the philosophy of religion according to the Mimamsa philosophy!
In the religion of Mimamsa philosophers, Vedas occupy such an important place that they hardly need any God.
The Vedas are eternal, impersonal and reservoirs of knowledge. They are lull of those eternal principles by following which one may reach the summum bonum of religion.
Hence according to Mimamsa, religion means fulfilment of duties prescribed by the Vedas. The statements of the Vedas are the criteria for duties. Good life means living according to the Vedas.
Mimamsa philosophy is a branch of the Vedic religion. In the Vedic age, yajna were performed to propitiate Indra, Varuna, Surya and other gods with the object of obtaining their help to the devotees in the realization of their goals and in eradicating evils. In the Mimamsa School, ritualism was given so much importance that the status of gods became secondary.
They only remained names to which offering were made while performing rituals. There is hardly any description of their qualities or of their worship in the Mimamsa scriptures. The author of Prakarana Panchika has gone to the extent of saying that the chief aim of yajna is not the worship or propitiation of gods but purification of soul.
One should selflessly act upon the duties prescribed by the Vedas. The Vedas distinguish between actions due to desire, routine actions and actions as means to achieve some purpose. While the first are performed lo achieve certain worldly aims, the last two are performed solely because of their prescription by the Vedas.
Thus, ultimately, Vedic ritualism becomes a duty for duty’s sake. This, however, is different from the concept of duly in the Gita. In the Gita, duty is not for duty but for deity. The Mimamsa concept of duty, on the other hand, is a secular principle. It resembles Kant’s concept of duty.
Heaven and Liberation:
The old Mimamsa philosophers maintain that whoever wants to go heaven must perform Yajna. Thus, the summum bonum of life, according to them, is heaven or permanent pleasure. But the later Mimamsa thinkers, like other Indian philosophical systems, accepted liberation as the ultimate end. Liberation is freedom from bondage.
One who acts due to desires has to take birth again and again. After knowing that the worldly pleasures are mixed with pain, one becomes disillusioned and leaves all desires. Desireless action and self-realization lead to the annihilation of bondage and cessation of the cycle of birth and death. According to Prakarana Panchika, in the state of liberation the self is emancipated from the bondages of body, senses, mind, etc., and is never again caught in the cycle of birth and death.
There remains no consciousness in the self and hence it cannot experience pleasure and pain. Liberation, according to the Mimamsa philosophy, is not a state of bliss. In it, the self achieves its real nature beyond pleasure and pain. No more description of the state of liberation is possible. It should be remembered here that some later Mimamsa philosophers, as pointed out by Pashupati Nath Shastri, accepted the Vedant theory of liberation as bliss.
Though Mimamsa has been given a place in the traditional six systems of Indian Philosophy, there is hardly any metaphysics in it. In fact, it is not a philosophy but a science of rituals. It is known as Purva Mimamsa because historically, it is earlier than Uttara Mimamsa.
It explains action, and, as action precede knowledge, it is also logically prior to Uttara Mimamsa. Being the science of action, it is different from other systems of Indian philosophy. Its conception of bondage and liberation has been borrowed from other systems. Its conception of self is inadequate. The theory of validity of knowledge, as found in it, is a commonsense principle. It has not tried to solve the subject-object relation in knowledge.
The concept of religion in Mimamsa is also undeveloped. The status of Vedic Gods has become so much secondary in it that they are almost useless. Ritualism has overshadowed religion so much that it has hardly any relation with God. Ritualism again is not based on any independent rational analysis but on the literal obedience to Vedic prescription. This extreme emphasis on ritualism in Mimamsa philosophy led to reaction in the form of many religious cults which tried to free religion from the clutches of ritualism.
Thus, while Mimamsa does not present any philosophy worthy of its-name, it is useful in the understanding of Vedic religion. In fact, its aim was not an enquiry into reality but an enquiry into “Dharma”, as is clear from the opening statement in Jaimini sutra. Thus the system is more important from the pragmatic and worldly points of view. It is a source for the understanding of various aspects of the Vedic religion, law, morality, ritualism, heaven and hell, worldly duties, etc. It is valuable as a guide to ceremonials and rituals of Vedic religion.