The Purva-mimamsa (“First Reflection”), or Karmamimamsa (“Study of [Ritual] Action”), is the system that investigates the nature of Vedic injunctions. Though this is the primary purpose of the system, this task also led to the development of principles of scriptural interpretation. 

Purva Mimamsa deals with earlier portion of Vedas i.e. the Mantra and Brahmana portion and is therefore called ‘Purva – Mimansa’ and also ‘karma-mimansa’ or ‘karma-kand’. Vedanta deals with the knowledge of reality and hence called ‘uttar-mimasa’ or ‘janana-kand’.


Founder & Commentator

Jamini was the founder of Purva-Mimasa. According to Jaimini, Vedic injunctions do not merely prescribe actions but also recommend these actions as means to the attainment of desirable goals. For both Jaimini and Shabara (3rd century), his chief commentator, performance of the Vedic sacrifices is conducive to the attainment of heaven; both emphasize that nothing is a duty unless it is instrumental to happiness in the long run.


Jaimini’s central concern is dharma, which is defined as the desired object (artha), whose desirability is testified only by the injunctive statements of the scriptures (chodana-lakshano). Acc to jamini perceptual knowledge arises from contact of the sense organs with reality that is present, dharma that is not an existent reality but a future course of action cannot possibly be known by sense-experience. Therefore, only the injunctions contained in the scriptures—which, according to Mimamsa and the Hindu tradition, are not composed by any finite individual (apaurusheya)—are the sources of all valid knowledge of dharma.

The commentary of Shabara elaborated on the epistemological themes of the sutras; in particular, Shabara sought to establish the intrinsic validity of experiences and traced the possibility of error to the presence of defects in the ways of knowing. He also critically examined Buddhist subjective idealism and the theory of utter emptiness of things and proved the existence of soul as a separate entity that enjoys the results of one’s actions in this or the next life.

Kumarila commented on Jaimini’s sutras as well as on Shabara’s bhashya. Prabhakara, who most likely lived after Kumarila, was the author of the commentary Brihati (“The Large Commentary”), on Shabara’s bhashya. Kumarila, like Jaimini and Shabara, restricted Mimamsa to an investigation into dharma, whereas Prabhakara assigned to it the wider task of enquiring into the meaning of the Vedic texts. Kumarila understood the Vedic injunction to include a statement of the results to be attained; Prabhakara—following Badari—excluded all consideration of the result from the injunction itself and suggested that the sense of duty alone should instigate a person to act.


According to Purva Mimamsa, sacrificial rites that are permitted by Vedas yield good results and benefits accrue (as a result of prayoga, which means application) and sacrificial rites (such as animal sacrifices) that are not permitted by Vedas and as a result, undesirable results accrue. Purva Mimamsa gave rise to Srauta-sutras and Uttara Mimamsa gave rise to Upaniṣads. Commentary is available only for Purva Mimamsa , which is generally called Mimamsa.

Purva Mimamsa also dwells on the theory of multitudes of souls of all living beings. It also talks about souls without physical bodies and these souls are called liberated souls. Mimamsa accepts Law of Karma and souls go to heaven or hell based on the Law of Karma. Mimamsa admits the plurality of the individual souls and regards the self as an eternal(nitya), omnipresent(sarvagata), infinite (vyapaka), substance (dravya), which is the substratum of consciousness and which is real knower, enjoyer and agent (karta). The self is different from body, the senses, the mind and the understanding. Self-luminous knowledge, reveals the self as the subject and the known thing as the object with itself.

Further Reading

What is Yoga?

History of Yoga

Misconceptions about Yoga

Fundamentals Of Yoga

9 Principles Of Yoga

Yoga Basics

Panch Mahabhutas



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