The Validity of Knowledge and the Different Views according to Mimamsa Philosophy

Read this article to learn about the validity of knowledge and the different views according to Mimamsa philosophy!

When we receive the knowledge of an object through any source, then the question with which we are confronted is whether that knowledge is in itself valid or whether there is need of any other proof of its validity.

Does every source independently provide knowledge? Is that knowledge in itself valid?

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Or, is it that one source generates knowledge while another gives evidence of its validity? Pramanyavada is aimed at a consideration of this very question. Nyaya philosophers support the theory of extrinsic validity (paratahpramanyavada), while in the Mimamsa, the theory of intrinsic validity (swatahpramanyavada) is given greater credence.

Two main principles arc involved in the theory of intrinsic validity or svatahpramanyavada—

1. The validity of knowledge is present in the material that creates the object.

2. The awareness of the validity of knowledge arises simultaneously with knowledge itself.


In this way, knowledge arises from the determinate source and after it has arisen, we accept it as valid, without waiting to examine it on any criterion. In perceptual knowledge we see the object clearly. Knowledge by testimony is received through meaningful and clear sentences. Inference is based upon an adequate middle term. Hence, there is no need of examining knowledge.

There is no contradiction between knowledge and action. Knowledge is real, the quality of the truthfulness or validity of knowledge is contained in it. In this way, truthfulness of knowledge is proved by itself. On the contrary, evidence is needed to prove falsity or untruth. Any knowledge can be known to be false by us only when it is contradicted by some other knowledge.

In this way, the falsity of any knowledge can be inferred. But this inferential evidence is needed only when there is some hindrance to belief, otherwise knowledge by itself generates belief. We do not hesitate in moulding our behaviour according to the knowledge received from perceptual sources, because we accept it at its face value without any discussion. Practical life is possible only because of this acceptance and belief.

Prabhakara has distinctly stated that it is contradictory to say that there is false knowledge. Kumarila has also accepted this view. The main cause why the Mimamsa philosophers accept the theory of intrinsic validity of knowledge is that they believe in the Vedas. They believe the Vedas to be eternal, impersonal and intrinsically valid. Hence, it is only logical for them to look upon knowledge as having intrinsic- validity.


Validity of the Vedas or-by the Vedas in itself implies intrinsic validity. In this way, the Mimamsa followers began to look upon the other sources of knowledge .as intrinsically valid also. Otherwise in the Mimamsa, the only source of valid knowledge is the Vedas.

Prabhakar’s View:

On the question of the validity of knowledge are three opinions among the Mimamsa philosophers all of which accept intrinsic validity of knowledge, but this theory most closely resembles the view of Prabhakara. According to him, knowledge is self evident and self-enlightening. The intrinsic validity of knowledge is proved by its being self-enlightening. Hence it does not need support from any other source to establish its validity.

Kumarila Bhatt’s View:

Bhatt’s view is also amenable to the principle of intrinsic validity, but according to it, validity is not imparted by knowledge but by ‘knowability’. In this view, in spite of knowledge being self-enlightening, there is no immediate aware­ness of it. Knowledge is generated by the senses. Actually, in the knowledge of the pot, a quality called knowability is generated in the pot upon its becoming known and it is this knowability that is perceptually known.

Knowability will result only when there is knowledge of the pot, and the pot’s becoming known depends upon there being knowledge of the pot. In this way, knowability cannot be created without there being some knowledge. The Mimamsa philosophers accept the existence of knowledge originating in postulation in order to have a basis for the creation of knowability.

Murari Misra’s Opinion:

According to Murari Misra, validity is determined not by ‘knowledge’ but by ‘anuvyavasaya’. In this way, when the sense organs and the object come into contact, there is knowledge that this is a pot. In order to lest the accuracy of this knowledge or to determine it, there is the anuvayavasaya that I know this pot.

The latter anuvyavasaya determines both the awareness of knowledge of the pot as well as its validity. It differs from the Nyaya view in that in the latter’s opinion, there is doubt in the first knowledge whereas in Misra’s opinion there is no such doubt.

Theory of Extrinsic Validity:

Contrary to the Mimamsa view, the Nyaya philosophers advocate the theory of extrinsic validity (paratahpramanyavada). For example, when there is knowledge of the pot resulting from the contact between the pot and the sense organ, this knowledge is marred by doubt. This is named ‘vyavasaya’ by the Nyaya philosophers.

I have knowledge of the validity of vyavasaya or previous knowledge. Thus, knowledge is not self-evident, but rather it is extrinsically valid. This view of the Nyaya philosophers has been refuted by the Mimamsa philosophers.

Criticism of the Nyaya View:

(1) According to the Nyaya view, the validity of every knowledge is generated by causes other than those which create that knowledge. The validity of perceptual knowledge is dependent upon the perfectness and freedom from defect of the sense organs concerned. But according to the Mimamsa, causes, in addition to the freedom from defect of the sense organs, are also of assistance to perceptual knowledge.

(2) According to the Nyaya view, the validity of every knowledge is deter­mined by inference. Contrary to this; Mimamsa asserts that no validity of knowledge would he established in this manner, and that it would also lead to the defect of infinite regress. The validity of ‘a’ would have to be proved by ‘b’ and that of ‘b ‘by ‘c’ and so on, and this chain of validations would never cease.

Besides this, before knowing the validity of any knowledge and accepting it, it is necessary to have recourse to inference. Its purpose is to remove the obstacle from the path of knowledge. Once the obstacle is removed, the validity as well as the knowledge of this validity, besides the knowledge itself, becomes evident. If inference fails to remove the obstacle, that knowledge cannot arise again.

But the principle of intrinsic validity of Mimamsa is the commonsense view and it keeps a number of problems unsolved. Actually, this philosophical system does not have a particularly important place in the epistemological field. Its specific- field is ritualism. It is more a theory of ritualism than a philosophy. But this does not mean that Mimamsa has no importance whatsoever. It has been rightly said that for a Hindu the Mimamsa literature is of the utmost importance.

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