Quick summary of Maṇḍana’s view on sacrificial duties

We concluded today a great workshop on Maṇḍana’s Vidhiviveka and these are my first comments on what we could establish. My deepest gratitude goes to all participants. (For more on the workshop, read here: https://philosophy.utoronto.ca/event/workshop-maṇḍana-on-ritual-duties/)

vv. 2.1–2.6: Maṇḍana’s siddhānta on iṣṭābhyupāyatā (chapter 11 in Elliot Stern’s forthcoming edition)

v. 2.7: summary of chapter 11, opening the new topic (chapter 12)

v. 2.8: yathāśakti provision applies to nitya sacrifices, sarvāṅgopasaṃhāra in kāmya ones (chapter 13)

v. 2.9: time needs to be the distinguishing factor between nitya/namimittika and kāmya rituals. For the former, kāla is included in nimitta, that ensures avaśyakartavyatā (chapter 14)

Summary of Chapters 13–14:
Chapter 13 tries to find a suitable candidate as phala for nitya sacrifices. The Prābhākara opponent insists on akaraṇe pratyavāya, whereas the siddhāntin (or quasi-siddhāntin) prefers pāpakṣaya. A first proposal in this sense, however, is refuted, because it would lead to just vāstava nityatva, and this would not guarantee the application of the yathāśakti provision. This can only be guaranteed by the ought-implies-can metarule and thus by a śābda nityatva, prescribed as such by the Veda. Hence, Maṇḍana wants both levels.

The akaraṇe-pratyavāya alternative is discussed at length. A preliminary possibility saying that akaraṇe there is pratyavāya, and that the sacrifice, being duḥkha, leads in an ānuṣaṅgika way to the production of pāpakṣaya.
This is finally refuted because there is no Vedic text justifying this view (it would be just inflicting whimsical pain to oneself).

At this point, the discussion becomes more technical. The acceptance of the yathāśakti provision implies that one contracts (saṅkoca) the meaning of either the mention of the adhikāra (so that only a samartha adhikārin is meant) or of the various aṅgavidhis. Which one is better? The constant risk to be avoided is that the same view could be applied to nitya and kāmya rituals, thus ending up in their being non-different.

The opponent suggests the application of Kāmsyabhojinyāya and of bādha based on bhūyastva in order to get to the result that the single adhikāraśruti should be contracted and not the many aṅgavidhis. By contrast, Maṇḍana (atha matam, p, 671 in ES’ edition, 17.5.2023) thinks that the aṅgavidhis are restricted, bc otherwise two unwanted consequences would follow (vaicitrya-risk in the prayoga) and because a single śruti is not evidence, since words are used in context (naitat sāram, p. 672).

Thus, this solution is putting much wait on yāvajjīvam-śruti, whereas chapter 14 will put in the context of naimittika sacrifices.

In this chapter, the new risk is adhikārātikrānti and the additional hurdle are naimittika sacrifices, which are not performed every day, but are otherwise identical to the nitya ones. To the atha matam and naitat sāram positions mentioned above something else is added, namely the definition of nimitta as not being a viśeṣaṇa of the adhikārin (this is what the Prābhākara opponent argues for), but just a nimitta. Time (kāla) also belongs to the nimitta in the case of nitya and naimittika sacrifices, although it is an aṅga for kāmya ones and can hence be a distinguishing factor (v. 2.9).

One point we did not have the time to discuss: Vācaspati (on 13.5) discusses a tantra vs prasaṅga approach and concludes that the first one should be preferred. What two things are centrally performed via tantra? Vācaspati clearly says that one is a kāmya and the other one is a nitya ritual (e.g. ubhayor api kāmyanityayoḥ karmaṇoḥ […] tantram anuṣṭhānam" ortasmān na kāmye ‘nuṣṭhīyamāne prāsaṅgikatvaṃ nityasya”, p. 660), but what are these referring to? A suggestion: There is a nitya sacrifice corresponding to the śābda nityatva, and a kāmya sacrifice corresponding to the vāstava nityatva and the two are performed at the same time.

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.

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