Rājaśekhara on mīmāṃsā and ānvīkṣikī as two distinct types of philosophical śāstras—a guest post by Christophe Vielle

(I am grateful for the following learned and thought-provoking guest post I received from Christophe Vielle, dealing with an emic way to define “Philosophy” in the Indian context. EF)

Rājaśekhara’s classification of śāstras in the Kāvyamīmāṃsā, adhyāya 2 (śāstra-nirdeśa)*, is the following:
1. apauruṣeya = śruti (mantra-brāhmaṇa) + upavedas + vedāṅgas
2. pauruṣeya = purāṇa, ānvīkṣikī, mīmāṃsā, smṛti-tantra
2.1. purāṇa (+ itihāsa)
2.2. ānvīkṣikī
2.2.1. pūrvapakṣa : arhat, bhadanta, lokāyata
2.2.2. uttararapakṣa : sāṅkhya, nyāya, vaiśeṣika :
(ta ime ṣaṭ tarkāḥ | tatra ca tisraḥ kathā bhavanti vādo jalpo vitaṇḍā ca |
madhyasthayos tattvāvabodhāya vastutattvaparāmarśo vādaḥ |
vijigīṣoḥ svapakṣasiddhaye chalajātinigrahādiparigraho jalpaḥ |
svapakṣasyāparigrahitrī parapakṣasya dūṣayitrī vitaṇḍā |)
2.3. mīmāṃsā : (nigamavākyānāṃ nyāyaiḥ sahasreṇa vivektrī mīmāṃsā | sā ca dvividhā vidhivivecanī brahmanidarśanī ca |)
2.4. smṛtayaḥ

The matter is in fact a bit more complicated, with a discussion on the number of vidyāsthānas occuring between 2.4. and 2.2.1-2 (these vidyāsthānas are numbered 14 if 4 vedas + 6 vedāṅgas + 4 [types of pauruṣeya] śāstras are counted; different views are quoted), and the special place given here and there to the art of poetry. At the end of the chapter, there are interesting definitions of formal types of works: sūtra, in which the śāstras were originally composed, vṛtti, paddhati, bhāṣya, samīkṣā, ṭīkā, pañjikā, kārikā, vārtika and prakaraṇa.

Rājaśekhara’s distinction between mīmāṃsā and ānvīkṣikī as two different types of śāstras is noteworthy. For him (dated to the early 10th century) the former is of two kinds, corresponding to karma- (‘pūrva”) and brahma- (“uttara”) mīmāṃsā, the aim of both being to discriminate among/to interpret the Vedic vākyas by means of/on the basis of thousand of nyāyas. The latter corresponds to six tarkas “logics” (tarka can also be here equated to darśana), three belonging to the pūrvapakṣa: the Jaina (arhat), Bauddha (bhadanta) and materialistic ones; three to the uttarapakṣa: the Sāṅkhya, Nyāya and Vaiśeṣika ones. These 6 tarkas use 3 types of kathās “[argumentative] talks”: vāda (the sound argument for convincing mediators in disputes), jalpa (the attempt to defeat one’s rival by means of unsound arguments) and vitaṇḍā (destructive criticism, without substantiating one’s own point of view).(**)
I would be interested by textual parallels to, or scholarly comments on, such a classification.

(*) For the GOS edition, see: https://archive.org/details/kvyammsofrajasek00rjauoft
there is an input of the text on GRETIL, with a few typos:
http://gretil.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gretil/1_sanskr/5_poetry/1_alam/rajkmimu.htm
(**) On these three kinds of kathā “debate“ (vāda “discussion“, jalpa “disputation”, vitaṇḍā “wrangling”) according to the NS (1.2.1-3) and their commentaries, see Esther A. Solomon, Indian Dialectics I, pp. 101-134: https://archive.org/details/SOLOMONIndianDialecticsI . Nadine Stchoupak and Louis Renou, La Kāvyamīmāṃsā de Rājaśekhara, traduite du sanskrit, Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1946 (Cahiers de la Société Asiatique, 8), translate here by “controverse”, “argutie” and “calomnie”.

About elisa freschi

My long-term program is to make "Indian Philosophy" part of "Philosophy". You can follow me also on my personal blog: elisafreschi.com, on Academia, on Amazon, etc.

7 thoughts on “Rājaśekhara on mīmāṃsā and ānvīkṣikī as two distinct types of philosophical śāstras—a guest post by Christophe Vielle

  1. Thanks for this. I remember Halbfass saying anvīkṣikī was the closest indigenous term to “philosophy”, but it had always struck me that mīmāṃsā was much closer in literal meaning to philosophia. Interesting to see an indigenous thinker who directly juxtaposes the two.

  2. Thanks, Christophe.
    I can only point to the (not identical, but comparable) classification found in Jayanta’s Sarvāgamaprāmāṇya (NM 4), whose translation can be read OA here: https://www.academia.edu/32246344/Jayanta_on_the_Validity_of_Sacred_Texts._Annotated_English_Translation_and_Study (see especially table XIII). Jayanta does not oppose mīmāṃsā and anvīkṣikī, but he distinguishes only two branches of what we would call “philosophy”, namely mīmāṃsā and nyāya. And, you might remember that elsewhere Jayanta uses anvīkṣikī as a synonym of nyāya, so that the two classification end up being closer than expected.

  3. But why is Mīmāṁsā not part of ānvīkṣikī? Is the idea that Mīmāṁsā is “simply” interpretive, and elicits meanings that are already found in some form in Vedic texts, as opposed to the other branches of ānvīkṣikī, which have nothing in particular to do with the Vedas?

    Obviously Rājaśekhara thinks that ānvīkṣikī is at least partly characterized by its method (otherwise he wouldn’t talk about the types of argument it employs), but he does seem to think that the domain of systematic thought (roughly: whether its domain is already a śāstram in his classification or not) is important, too. But I wonder what consequences this classification has for the “ecosystem” of scholarship in his time, which systems are seen as ancillary to or congruent with which others, etc.

  4. Thank you for these three comments. In reading Hugo David’s contribution to a very interesting new special issue (on the relationships between religion and philosophy in Ancient India) of the on-line journal TheoRèmes (co-ed. by V. Eltschinger, see: http://theoremes.revues.org/1132), I come across, as pointed out by David, a further statement of Rājaśekhara in the Kāvyamīmāṃsā, adhyāya 8, enabling to better understand his view: dvividhaḥ prāmāṇiko maimāṃsikas tārkikaś ca. David translates: «Il existe deux types de théoriciens, le philosophe (tārkika) et l’exégète (maimāṃsika)»; I would translate: “The philosopher (pramāṇa-user) is of two kinds: the Mīmāṃsaka and the Logician”. The rest of the passage deserves to be examined more closely, but again the Tārkikas are given as Sāṅkhya, Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Bauddha, Jaina, Lokāyata + here Śaivasiddhānta and Pañcarātra followers, so distinct from the Mīmāṃsakas.

  5. Thanks for this interesting post and discussion. I also find Rājaśekhara’s text discussed by Christophe quite remarkable. But on the specific point of the anvīkṣikī/mīmāṃsā pair I think it reflects a position which is quite widespread in the 10th century, namely that Mīmāṃsā is not a tarka (that is, a doctrine based on reasoning alone), the six tarkas being those enumerated in the KM like in a number of other sources (on this, besides the work of Halbfass’ already mentioned by Amod, one may recall the landmark study by Gerdi Gerschheimer: “Les Six doctrines de spéculations”, published in the 2007 “Halbfass” volume edited by K. Preisendanz). This, no doubt, was about to change already by Rājaśekhara’s time, with various attempts at including Mīmāṃsā in similar lists of tarkas, starting with Haribhadra and ending with the familiar list of six darśanas (for which I still lack an early reference, any help?). That surely does not mean that there was no “philosophy” in Mīmāṃsā before the 10th century (like when Mīmāṃsakas do what tārkikas normally do), nor that nobody at that time considered Mīmāṃsā to be a tarka (as does Kumārila in the Bṛhaṭ̣īkā-verse quoted in my article, where he speaks of a “mīmāṃsāsaṃjñakas tarkaḥ”); maybe rather that nice structural classifications and actual philosophical practice were different things already by that time.

    • Hugo, Halbfass discusses the early references to six darśanas in his Darśana, ānvīkṣikī, Philosophy, where he suggests that the number six is earlier than the filling of these slots with the six darśanas we all learnt about in our indological primary school.
      Thanks also for your other comments and learned references. My impression is that tarka (just like ānvīkṣikī) happened to be used almost synonymously with Nyāya by Nyāya authors, so that it would have been odd to put Mīmāṃsā sic et simpliciter under the same label. Perhaps this tells us also a lot about how Mīmāṃsā and Nyāya were the two fundamental actors in the Indian philosophical debate in the second half of the first millennium (and until the Age of Vedānta)?

  6. According to Dvaita Vedanta writer Sri Bannanje Govindacharya
    apaureseya is not authorlessness. Every member of the humanity
    past, present and future are contributors to the work. How ? When
    a driver is asked to write an essay on driving for several pages,
    his deepest experience slips from his pen to paper. This poignant
    experience, which the driver writer will be surprised at is apoureseya.
    This is not mind experience but soul experience. Every soul is eternal. Its experiences are eternal. Output of experience is eternal.This is irrespective of whether the soul has started taking
    on physical bodies. Consolidated experience of the entire humanity is perhaps apouruseya Vedas which is infinite. It is the document of mankind’s experience. Hinduism is best derived therefrom. Sri
    Madhva has written Bhashya for Vedas and established theism

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