(redirected from Mimansa)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.



one of the six traditional schools of Hindu philosophy that deals with the interpretation of the Vedas. It is also called Karma Mimamsa (the Mimamsa of action) and Purva Mimamsa (the first Mimamsa), as distinguished from Uttara Mimamsa, or Vedanta. The founder of Mimamsa is considered to be Jaimini, who lived between the fourth century B.C. and the second century of the Common Era. Jaimini expounded the ideas of Mimamsa in the form of sutras.

The practical aspect of Mimamsa was formulated for the purpose of ordering the complex Vedic ritual. The theoretical problems of Mimamsa arose during the codification of the Vedic texts as the supreme religious authority of Hinduism. These problems dealt with the formal verification and semantic interpretation of the Vedic formulas (mantras), the definition of language norms, and the correlation of Vedic utterances with ritual procedures. For this reason, social philosophy and the philosophy of language were of major importance. In both instances, Mimamsa doctrine developed from an extreme ontological realism. The doctrine asserts the eternalness and uncreatedness of the Vedas and declares changes in the world of things impossible, since all things are only derivatives of the eternal models of Vedic actions. The absence of the problem of the creation and destruction of the world led Mimamsa to deny the necessity of god. Nevertheless, sacrifices should be made to the gods for the preservation of traditional social harmony.

The problem of liberation (moksa), cardinal for Indian philosophical ethics, has no real social significance for Mimamsa. Proceeding from an absolute understanding of ritual norms, Prabhakara (seventh century) formulated a doctrine of the foundations of social existence that anticipated I. Kant’s categorical imperative. The Mimamsa theory of cognition provides a de-tailed treatment of the problems of dogmatic justification of the truth and elaborates methods of using authoritative testimony as the source of truth.

The ontological realism of Mimamsa in its approach to the philosophy of language made it possible for Kumarila Bhatta (seventh century) to develop a linguistic theory in which different levels of linguistic structure and speech behavior were distinguished. In the field of logic, the followers of Mimamsa (particularly Prasastapada, sixth to seventh centuries) contributed to the realistic theory of relations later developed in Nyaya.

Denying the necessity for religious liberation and asceticism, Mimamsa affirms the positive ideal of an active life in society ( Grhastha-dharma). Mimamsa, along with Vedanta, contributed to the formation of the social system of Hinduism, where rigid adherence to a ritual norm coexists with the broadest dogmatic tolerance.


Edgerton, F. Mimamsa Nyaya Prakasa of Apadevi. Oxford, 1941.
Jha, G. The Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini Allahabad, 1910.
Keith, A. B. The Karma Mimamsa. Calcutta, 1921.
Sastri, P. Introduction to Purva Mimamsa. Calcutta, 1923.