In his Bhāvanāviveka, Maṇḍana reproduces the view of an objector who maintains that karman is not a separate category but just an unnecessary postulation. All that we can see is conjunctions and disjunction (which are qualities) and there is no necessity to postulate anything else beyond that. Maṇḍana criticises this view and then presents his theory of bhāvanā. Due to this sequence, it is easy to argue that he considers bhāvanā as an alternative explanation of movement.
He repeats Kumārila's definition of bhāvanā as the “interruption of a previous state of rest (audāsīnya)”, and interpreted this “rest” rather loosely, in both physical and psychical sense. Accordingly, he further defins the bhāvanā as consisting in effort (prayatna) and movement (parispanda). In this way, mental activities can also be labelled by him bhāvanā). Finally, Maṇḍana explicitly acknowledges the differences between his position and the Vaiśeṣika one:
For us, it is not so that movement alone is the only action (kriyā), as it is [instead] for Kaṇāda (the author of the Vaiśeṣikasūtra, the foundational text of the Vaiśeṣika school).
Due to this double criterion, Maṇḍana's definition of action (bhāvanā) can apply to both movement and effort without recurring to metaphorical usages. It can hence easily explain cases such as "the chariot goes", where no effort is seen.
As for the objector's claim, one could integrate Maṇḍana's exposure by making explicit that conjunctions and disjunctions inhering in a thing as their qualities are instead just the movement's result.