Mīmāṃsā authors deal with conflicting commands according to a decreasing scale of preferences, which seems to me comparable to the scale of preferences according to which one deals with legal conflicts. Starting from below, 4) The least preferred option is to say that the commands at stake are meaningless or purposeless (nirarthaka). This is the least preferred one because it leads to the fact that the commands are not fulfilled.
Then comes 3) vikalpa, which is equivalent to flipping a coin, i.e., arbitrarily choosing one of the two commands to be fulfilled. This is also not ideal, because one of the two commands is not fulfilled and because this is arbitrarily done.
Then comes 2) bādha, which is equivalent to temporarily suspending the more general command and applying the most specific one. The suspension allows one to retain the general command as the default one for future undetermined instances.
Then comes 1), i.e., understanding the conflict as due to a failure in understanding the commands. One then rephrases the seemingly conflicting commands in a way which shows that no command is even suspended and that there was an exception embedded in the first command. 1) is only applied in the case of conflicts between a prescription and a prohibition.
By contrast, the most favoured solution for conflicts among prescriptions is samuccaya, i.e., fulfilling both prescriptions (e.g. “Do x given a” and “Do y given a” can be solved by doing both x and y given the situation a). If this is not possible, Mīmāṃsā texts speak of recurring to vikalpa (equivalent to flipping a coin to decide which prescription to fulfil). This is the least preferred option, because it implies disregarding one of the two prescriptions. Hence, vikalpa is reserved to the limit case of exactly equivalent prescriptions (e.g., “bake a rice-cake” and “bake a millet-cake”) which fulfil exactly the same role and are interchangeable.
What about the intermediate cases, i.e., cases in which the two prescriptions cannot be both fulfilled, but there are reasons to prefer one over the other? One applies bādha, i.e., suspension of the more general prescription in favour of the more specific one. Suspension is generally not the most preferred solution for deontic conflicts, because it implies the temporary suspension of a command. Mīmāṃsā authors prefer to rephrase both conflicting commands in a way as to embed one within the other in order to respect both. This embedding of one within the other implies the embedment of an exception within a general rule. I.e., out of the conflict between “Do x in every case” and “Don’t do x in case a”, one embeds the second command as an exception of the first as “Do x in every case but a”. This device is called paryudāsa and it is the preferred way to solve conflicts between a prescription and a prohibition.
But why is it the case that the conflict between two prescriptions cannot be solved through the device of paryudāsa (i.e., embed the more specific command as an exception of the more general one)?
Is it because paryudāsa is by definition reserved for cases of conflicts between prescriptions and prohibitions? Is it an a priori decision or a reasoned one? I am currently working on this topic (reasoned suggestions, as usual, are welcome).