Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Are Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta the same śāstra?

Veṅkaṭanātha discusses in his Seśvaramīmāṃsā, in his Mīmāṃsāpādukā and in his Śatadūṣaṇī the unity of Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta. The topic is not completely new and Veṅkaṭanātha insists on the fact that his endeavour is perfectly harmonised with what has always been the trend in the Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta school, quoting mostly Nārāyaṇārya, Yāmunācārya, Rāmānuja and Dramiḍācārya. A big evidence in favour of the unity of Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta is the fact that Bādarāyaṇa, the author of the Brahmasūtras often mentions Jaimini and agrees with his opinion. After having discussed it, Veṅkaṭanātha adds:

Alternatively, there is no contradiction as for the unity of meaning, even in the case of the thesis of the [PMS, UMS and SK] having been put together (saṃ-dhā) by extracting (uddhāreṇa) singular passages (ekadeśa) which are contradictory, like when one fills (pūr-) what remains with a cement (saudhā), etc., in a [building] made by another.
athavā parakalitasaudhādiśeṣapūraṇavat viruddhaikadeśoddhāreṇa saṃhitatvapakṣe 'pi nārthaikyavirodhaḥ.
 In other words, contradictory passages may need to be excerpted, and holes filled with new cement and still the building remains the same. So the PMS, UMS and SK convey the same meaning even if they have been done by different people.
I have to admit that I struggled with the simile of the cement until I found a parallel in Veṅkaṭanātha's Śatadūṣaṇī 3:
Is it the case that there is no unity of a building if one completes what remains [to be done] by taking away the uneven parts, which where the parts of the palace previously done?
kiṃ pūrvakṛtaprāsādakhaṇḍaviṣamāṃśāpanayanena śeṣanirmāṇe tadaikyaṃ nāsti?
I am personally fascinated by the idea of Veṅkaṭanātha modifying the same passage because he likes the simile but does not want to repeat it verbatim. Which passage do you think was the first one to be composed?
We probably know the answer, since the Seśvaramīmāṃsā is referred to in the Śatadūṣaṇī and one would hence think that the former passage precedes the latter. This is interesting, because I would have thought that the Śatadūṣaṇī's passage is clearer and that, accordingly, the Seśvaramīmāṃsā's one is a more cryptic version of it, a hint to what readers would have already read in the Śatadūṣaṇī. Since the actual sequence appears to be the opposite one, I wonder whether Veṅkaṭanātha felt he had to add a further explanation regarding the equation between contradictory sūtras and uneven parts to be taken away from a palace because some readers/listeners did not grasp the simile while reading it in the Seśvaramīmāṃsā.

Which criteria would you recommend to determine the priority of one or the other parallel passage?

For further posts on Veṅkaṭanātha see this one (and its links).


andrew said...

what a wonderful comparison: the structural unity of a building and the unity of meaning of a text (or texts). i don't think i understand all of the correspondences, though: are the "contradictory passages" the damaged portions of a building that need to be cleared away before restoring it? where, if anywhere, do these "contradictory portions" end up? and is the UMS the "restored" version of the PMS? or are each of the texts (PMS, UMS and SK) different "restorations" of a unitary original?

i also think saudhā in passage 1 corresponds to prāsāda in passage 2.

elisa freschi said...

Out of context, I would say that the damaged portions are clearly the contradictory sūtras (viruddhaikadeśa) within the (Pūrva) Mīmāṃsā Sūtra and the Vedānta Sūtra. Nothing in the text warrants one to say that the UMS is the restored version of the PMS, nor that the three PMS, SK and UMS are the restored version of an Ur-text. Rather, they are a single text (prabandha) forming a single system (śāstra) and some contradictory sūtras need to be excerpted and the corresponding voids filled.

elisa freschi said...

Why should saudhā correspond to prāsāda? I see that they occupy a similar position, but the meaning seems different… Or do you have a different translation to offer?

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