This will be the last posting in the series on pUrva mImAmsA (PM), and will consider various miscellaneous topics that are important in PM. Some PM teachings will also be compared with those of advaita VedAnta and a few other schools. Since the postings ran to many pages, one might be tempted to think of this as an extensive discussion on PM and question the word "brief" in the subject line. Rest assured that PM is an ocean of literature much vaster than advaita VedAnta, and this series did not even touch the tip of an iceberg on the ocean. Jaimini's PUrva MImAmsA sUtras (JPMS) has a total of 12 chapters with over 5000 sUtras (this series did not so much as cover the first chapter fully), while the Brahma sUtra only contains 4 chapters with less than 600 sUtras. The importance of JPMS 1.1.5 cannot be overemphasized. KumArila devotes more than twice the amount of time to this verse than to any other in the JPMS. His commentary on this verse contains over 18 sections, and provides the important PM theories on words, self, world, etc. Interestingly, the verse is mentioned as BAdarAyaNa's teaching. Basic PM Epistemology --------------------- PM concerns itself essentially with Ethics, but has a lot to say regarding Epistemology that is in stark contrast to the nyAya and Bauddha schools. Therefore, it is best to study PM with these schools of thought in the background . The fundamental concern in epistemology is - what constitutes valid knowledge? We see and hear the objects of the world, and infer certain properties of the perceived objects. We also use words and meanings to convey our thoughts, and arrive at conclusions regarding the world and ourselves. We make mistakes in some of our conclusions, and rectify them when we realize our error. In all of this, what do we TRULY KNOW? Answering this question becomes especially problematic because our senses give us sensations that are known to be undependable at times. For example, viewing at an angle we may see an object as circular, but it turns out that the object is really elliptic when viewed closely and directly. Or one might hear a sound and think that there must be an object causing the sound, but it may actually be a defect in the ear that makes it hear non-existent sounds. If our senses cannot be trusted in giving us true knowledge, what knowledge can we trust as being valid, as all knowledge of the world has been "tainted" by the imprint of our unreliable senses? Appearances cannot always be trusted, and this needs to be taken into account before claiming that what we know is indeed true and valid. A comparison with Western thought : In contemporary Western philosophy of science, it is a common debate as to how we know that modern science has indeed given us precise knowledge of the physical world. It was thought for a long time, upto the beginning of the 20th century, that Newton's laws explained the mechanics of the physical universe. But that has now been replaced by Quantum Mechanics, and physicists of the stature of Feynman have declared, "Newton's laws are false." What was previously thought to be perfectly true is now known to be false. But how can we now be sure that Quantum Mechanics explains the world and that it is valid knowledge? Perhaps Quantum Mechanics also is really only an approximate theory, and a future theory will replace it? Following are the teachings of the various schools insofar as the process of arriving at valid knowledge is concerned. First will be taken up nyAya, then Bauddha, and finally the PM viewpoint regarding the validity of knowledge. 1) nyAya: prAmANyaM aprAmANyaM cha parataH . "[Both] validity and invalidity [of any piece of knowledge, require] another (i.e. corroboration or contradiction)." The naiyAyika is of the opinion that in order to ascertain whether a particular piece of knowledge we have is true or false, we need to find either corroboration or contradiction with some other piece of knowledge. For example, when a naiyAyika sees a river, he will withhold judgment as to whether it contains water. He will need to touch the water, check its property of wetness and verify the boiling point to conclude that it is indeed water! Another example: the naiyAyika sees the sky as blue. He will not immediately accept that the sky is blue. He will ask for corroboration. He will observe that the sky is black at night, orange at sunset, and then conclude that the sky is not actually blue, but only appears so. Initial reaction: "I withhold judgment on the sky being blue." Final conclusion: "The sky is not blue, but only appears so." The naiyAyika's attitude or approach can be best termed as: "Excessive testing in an attempt to arrive at certain knowledge". The naiyAyika's view is in fact one of the prevalent views of modern science - establishing the validity of any piece of scientific knowledge frequently requires corroborative evidence . Scientists often demand repeated experimentation under various conditions in order to establish a scientific theory. It would not be incorrect to state that the naiyAyika has the attitude of a scientist. 2) Bauddha: aprAmANyaM svataH , prAmANyaM parataH . "Invalidity [of a piece of knowledge] is self-revealed, [but] validity [requires] another (i.e. corroboration)." The Bauddha's opinion is that any knowledge should be doubted initially. But in case of two pieces of knowledge contradicting each other, the invalidity of both is "obvious". For example, the Bauddha sees the sky as blue, but will doubt it. He will see the sky as black at night and orange at sunset, and then say, "What did I tell you about trusting your perception - the sky is not blue, so it is good that I doubted the fact!" Initial reaction: I doubt if the sky is blue. Final conclusion: Aha! My doubt was justified - the sky is not blue! The Bauddha's attitude can be best termed as: "Excessive doubt - will gladly show the invalidity of any knowledge by pointing to contradictions in different pieces of knowledge. The validity of any conclusion is again subject to doubt." The Bauddha is never satisfied with the validity of any knowledge, and always doubts conclusions. Being a supreme skeptic, he does not arrive at a final conclusion at all . 3) MImAmsA (also accepted by VedAnta): prAmANyaM svataH , aprAmANyaM parataH . "Validity [of any piece of knowledge] is self-revealed, invalidity [requires] another (i.e. contradiction)." The mImAmsaka's opinion is that ANY KNOWLEDGE BY ITSELF IS PERFECTLY VALID and acceptable, UNLESS CONTRADICTED by another piece of knowledge. This is in exact opposition to the Bauddha's position. For example, the mImAmsaka sees the sky as blue. At that instant: "THE SKY IS BLUE" IS KNOWLEDGE! He does not doubt the knowledge that the sky is blue unless he has a cause for the doubt. But then, he sees the sky as black at night and orange at sunset, and so armed with these new cognitions that contradict his preliminary observation, he says, "I would have accepted the sky as being blue as it was my first cognition. However, since this is contradicted by other cognitions that reveal the sky as black or orange, the conclusion is that the sky is not blue, but has blueness superimposed on it by my perception." Initial reaction: The sky is blue. Final conclusion: The sky has blueness superimposed on it by perception . The mImAmsaka differs from the naiyAyika in that for the latter, establishing any knowledge requires an enormous amount of evaluation and analysis. The mImAmsaka on the other hand accepts the validity of knowledge as and when he comes across them, unless there is a good reason to doubt some knowledge (or because there exists a contradiction between two pieces of knowledge), in which case thorough analysis becomes necessary. The mImAmsaka differs from the Bauddha in that for the former, DOUBT REQUIRES A CAUSE, whereas the latter freely entertains doubt. The mImAmsaka would gladly doubt matters that are far from obvious, but will not doubt needlessly. If one begins to doubt all cognitions, it will pose huge obstacles to establishing any knowledge, which is dangerously close to Epistemological Nihilism. One of the key problems with the Bauddha's position is that he doesn't really come to any firm conclusions on any subject - there is no "central thesis" that can be called "The Final Conclusion of the Bauddha". This kind of "Extreme Skepticism" is indeed a kind of Epistemological Nihilism . (The Bauddha has a serious problem in attempting to prove that "The Bauddha scriptures are better than the Vedas" while at the same time casting doubt on any scripture. How can he be sure that his own scriptures are correct while claiming that the Vedas are of doubtful authority?) Moreover, both the naiyAyika and the Bauddha do not accept one piece of knowledge without corroboration, but then accept the second (corroborative) piece of knowledge as validating the first, which is a bit strange. Why do they not wonder about the validity of the second piece of knowledge and require a third to validate the second, and proceed ad infinitum? This procedure results in an infinite regress, each piece of knowledge requiring another for validation: A is validated by B, B is validated by C, ... (ad infinitum) Or in circular reasoning: A is validated by B and B is validated by A. Either way, the validity of the first piece of knowledge is unresolved. The mImAmsaka settles the matter of validity of a piece of knowledge immediately unless it contradicts another piece of knowledge, thereby avoiding the possibility of either infinite regress or circular reasoning . Therefore, in the PM viewpoint: A is validated by A. Hence no cognition requires "external validation" outside of itself. Of course, there is always the possibility of two pieces of knowledge such that: A contradicts B. Hence a more complete explanation of validity in the PM view would be: A is validated by A. B is validated by B. If and only if there is a contradiction between A and B, further analysis is necessary. The mImAmsaka's attitude can be best termed as: "Clear thinking. Neither given to excessive testing of the perceived objects of the world, nor excessive doubt regarding their existence. Trusts the validity of any cognition, unless there is cause to doubt, in which case deeper analysis is undertaken. Forms firm conclusions as and when required." An example of the PM method of arriving at conclusions: The mImAmsaka sees a pond far away during the middle of the day. Will he conclude that there really is a pond at a certain distance from him? One may imagine that the mImAmsaka is bound to come to this conclusion as he is always taken in by first-time appearances, but the mImAmsaka already knows that there is the possibility of a mirage happening in the middle of the day. Hence, the mImAmsaka has CAUSE TO DOUBT that there is a river in the distance. Therefore, the mImAmsaka is armed with these pieces of knowledge: * There is an appearance of water far away. * It is possible that there is really water in the distance. * It is now bright with the sun shining at mid-day. * There is also the possibility of a mirage happening under these conditions, which would make the perceived "water" unreal. MImAmsaka's Conclusion: "I have cause to doubt whether or not there is water in the distance. I would like to touch the water there to conclude that it really is water." It is not that the mImAmsaka does not doubt - he does when there is good cause for it. Nor is it the case that the mImAmsaka will not ask for corroboration - he will when there is a need to ascertain. The mImAmsaka and VedAntin completely agree on this fundamental basis of valid knowledge in their respective philosophies. Thus they begin their argumentation with a common ground. For example, both accept the Vedas as svataH-pramANa, because the Vedas have already been established as dharma. In order to controvert the Vedas as the basis of dharma, one must provide an alternative means of knowing dharma that is "better" than the Vedas. Since all the alternatives for knowing dharma fail on account of their dependence upon sense-experience, inference, or defective authorship, they're all rejected as unauthoritative on dharma. In VedAnta for instance, where the fundamental enquiry is into the nature of the Self: since prima facie the body is taken to be the Self, one takes it to be so unless this contradicts another piece of knowledge we have. In this case, one knows that consciousness is not derivable out of the unconscious elements constituting the body, and there is a difference between the subject (Self that perceives) and object (body that is perceived) of perception, and the body is not cognized during the three states of being - waking, dream and deep sleep (when the Self is). Therefore, the Self is not the body, but the body is a superimposition on the Self owing to ignorance (avidyA). It is commonly believed that advaita VedAnta teaches us the "Unreality of the world". It is correct only when one adds the caveat, "when the superimposition on the Self is destroyed". PM Ontology ----------- PM holds the reality of the objective world, and distinguishes the reality of the waking state as different from the dream state. Hence PM's ontology is not to be confused with VedAnta, where only the Self is real. In the PM viewpoint, the following are accepted as real: 1) Physical world. 2) Embodied self that can cause the body to act, and experiences pleasure/pain. 3) Words and Meanings, and the Vedas (are eternal). 4) Virtue and Vice (dharma and adharma). 5) Hypothetical unseen force that awards the results of moral actions (apUrva). Note that in PM, the ontology of the physical world is EXPANDED, not contracted. In other words, PM not only says that the physical world is real, but adds the eternality of the Vedas, the reality of Self and dharma, and the proposed reality of apUrva. This is in contrast to VedAnta, where the ontology is CONTRACTED to include nothing but the Self. PM and alternative theories of Ethics ------------------------------------- Many incorrectly imagine PM to be merely a "study of rituals", but PM really is a study of moral action, and correctly qualifies as a school of Ethics. The best way to determine the standpoint of the PM school is to take a look at the kind of pUrvapaksha that PM argues against when establishing that the Vedas are the primary source of knowledge of dharma. In this regard, two commonly held theories of Ethics are refuted by KumArila , thus revealing that PM is Ethics from the Vedic viewpoint. 1) Theory of Utilitarianism: This is the most prevalent view that forms the foundation of Ethics for worldly people. According to this theory, good action is that which results in maximum pleasure (and minimum pain) for mankind, and evil action is that which results in maximun pain (and minimum pleasure) for mankind. (A similar doctrine, but with pleasure and pain pertaining to one's own self exclusively, is called Hedonism). The very fact that KumArila sees it necessary to refute this theory of dharma is proof positive that PM is essentially Ethics. "For those who declare that dharma to be due to 'helping others to happiness' and adharma to be due to 'causing pain to others', for these people 'japa' and 'wine-drinking' would be neither dharma nor adharma. And again one who [commits adultery] ... would be incurring a great dharma, because thereby he would be conferring a great benefit of pleasure to the woman." According to KumArila, the problem with utilitarianism is that things like "japa", "wine-drinking", and "adultery" are difficult to classify as dharma or adharma. The problem with this refutation is that truly worldly people would have no problem in accepting wine-drinking and adultery as "righteous actions". IMHO, KumArila must have been aware of this, and his refutation only serves to prevent those within the Vedic tradition from using utilitarian theories of dharma to justify their actions. 2) Conscience theory: This is yet another theory of Ethics that is advocated by those who believe that all humans possess something in their minds that functions as a 'moral compass', called a 'conscience', by means of which good and evil action can automatically be discerned. This too is unacceptable to KumArila: "Then the mlechchhas who have got no qualms of conscience in the doing of any action, could never be said to be incurring any sin, if your theory [of dharma depending upon one's conscience] ... were true." KumArila's point is perfectly valid - there exist people who engage in unconscionable acts and have no feelings of repentance whatsoever. Can it be said that these people are always acting righteously? It is thus a mistake to assume that PM is a study of Vedic rituals alone. The Vedic way of Ethics is the performance of actions commanded by the Vedas, and since the Vedas command one to perform rituals, PM studies Vedic rituals. It does not imply that PM is only about ritualistic procedures. PM is providing a way of distinguishing right action from wrong action, and should rightly be called "Vedic Ethics". PM and the fundamentals of dharma --------------------------------- According to PM, the Vedas are VITAL for knowledge of dharma, which cannot be obtained through any other means. If someone somewhere is capable of giving a "scientific" reason for human action to be classified into right and wrong actions, it would render the Vedas redundant. PM is precisely against such claims that dharma can be "derived", or a treatise on dharma can be "composed" using merely sense-experience and inference. KumArila would argue that dharma cannot be considered even remotely a subject matter of science. Is he correct? Consider the following statements about science: 1) A society ought to educate children in the sciences. 2) Scientific studies should receive funding from the society. 3) If one scientist publishes another's work as his own, he should be taken to task for plagiarisation. It should be noted that the most striking fact about the above statements is that they are all of the form: "SUCH-AND-SUCH ACTION SHOULD/SHOULDN'T BE DONE." The word "should" indicates the imperative case, and none of the above statements can be derived by any amount of scientific experimentation and reasoning. These statements can only be studied as "meta-science" or "meta-physics". For example, science can tell us what will happen if a knife is used to cut a man's heart in a certain manner, but cannot tell us why that action is "good" in the context of a skilled cardiac surgeon trying to save a patient's life, and is "evil" in the context of a murder. This is precisely why in the second verse itself, PM rejects the view that experience and inference can possibly give us knowledge of dharma. Concepts such as "benefit", "usefulness", "justice", etc. are not scientific terms, and they fall under the purview of a philosophical enquiry called "ETHICS", and the study of science itself relies upon certain ethical standards. Actions of scientists such as obtaining society's funds for scientific research, encouraging students to take up scientific pursuits to propagate scientific study, ensuring that reports to scientific journals are honest, are all examples of scientists performing moral actions that do not have direct scientific justification. Without a firm adherence to ethics by scientists, science would have collapsed a long time ago, and not be the great tradition that it is today - even science cannot survive without ethics. As a matter of fact, some Western philosophers have disagreed with all of the above statements about science, and argued that they are not strictly true . Take for instance the statement that children ought to receive scientific instruction. One can easily see that it is of the nature of an obligation ("ought to" indicates it; religious persons would prefer the word "command"), and if there exists anything like an obligation, it can only be that children ought to be taught the ways and means of arriving at their obligations and duties. Therefore, children ought to first and foremost be schooled in Ethics, and if it so turns out that science is not something they are obligated to study, the study of science itself may be rejected as inappropriate. In some sense, Ethics is the ultimate practical enquiry, since it tells people what course of action is right, what the laws of a society should be, and so on. The moral dilemma can be thought of as a problem of choice: You should do X. You should not do X. You have a choice in whether or not to do X. For example, a teacher may tell the students, "You can either study history or play football for the next hour." Note that the teacher has neither commanded nor prohibited the studying of history, but has given a third option: CHOICE to the students. It is only when the element of choice appears that one has to debate on which course of action to take, and whether that is right or wrong. It is commonly believed that inanimate objects do not possess choice, for we do not imagine water "choosing to flow as a river", or an apple "deciding to fall off a tree". But there is a general belief that human beings possess choice in their actions that comes with the capacity to reason and act, and so are accountable for what they do. Logic and reasoning can merely state facts, but cannot say which of these facts is "better" or which course of action is "right". Consider the following premise and two "conclusions" that may follow from it: Premise: There exist mentally retarded people in this world. "Conclusion" 1: Therefore, the mentally retarded ought to be helped. "Conclusion" 2: Therefore, the mentally retarded ought to be killed. Neither "conclusion" follows from the premise. This is because the phrase "ought to be done" is not derivable by using sense-experience and logic. Hence taking the "right decision" is not amenable to scientific reasoning alone. This is the reason that Western philosophy has often insisted on a "moral imperative" that is generally accepted as valid so that ethical principles can be derived using the moral imperative as an axiom (e.g. Kant's "Categorical Imperative"). Certain Classifications in PM ----------------------------- Here are some PM terms that can be further classified into the following :- 1) Vidhis are of three kinds - apUrva vidhis are "New Injunctions" that command the primary action to be performed. niyama vidhis are "Restrictive Injunctions" that restrict to a particular case where many alternatives are possible. ParisaMkhyA vidhis are "Precluding Injunctions" that explain which object is inapplicable in a certain context. 2) There are four types of arthavAdas - nindA (condemnation), prashaMsA (glorification), parakR^iti (actions of others), and purAkalpa (past examples). 3) Karma is of two kinds - arthakarma and GuNakarma, the former being primary actions that produce an unseen force (apUrva), and the latter being secondary actions that serve as a means of purification. arthakarmas in turn are of three kinds - nitya (obligatory) karmas that should be performed daily, naimittika (occasional) karmas that should be performed on specific occasions, and kAmya (optional) karmas that are done with a particular object in mind. 4) PramANas or acceptable means of knowledge are six in number - pratyaksha (sense-experience), anumAna (inference), shabda (verbal testimony), upamAna (analogy), arthApatti (suggestion or implication), and anupalabdhi (non-perception). (Jaimini accepts only the first three, but the rest are accepted by KumArila as also VedAnta.) Science vs. PM's view of the Vedas ---------------------------------- I thought something had to be added on the subject of Vedas and science, since there is no end to the number of books claiming to tie the two subjects together. Many of them have even been advertised on this list. I do not believe the two subjects were ever meant to be linked, and hence the opinions below. Before trying to read science into the Vedas, one must ask the question - did the traditional VadIkas ever see the Vedas as "scientific texts"? The answer is emphatically NO! In fact, such comparisons are actually anti-Vedic, as KumArila explicitly states that the Vedas are texts for knowledge of dharma, and dharma cannot be known by sense-experience or inference. Science answers all questions by experimentation-observation-inference, so there is no way KumArila could have possibly conceived of the Vedas as a scientific text in the first place. There is not a single statement by Jaimini and KumArila (or even BAdarAyaNa and Shankara) defending the scientific validity of the Vedas. The ancients always regarded the Vedas as being in the territory of pure philosophy, serving as a means of knowing moral conduct and for removing the ignorance of those whose moral development is extraordinary. Most people begin all their philosophical enquiry with an awe of science and technology, and incorrectly imagine their religious scriptures as teaching similar ideas. To read science into the Vedas is to ignore the opinions of those VaidIkas who live by its word. None of the great traditional Vedic scholars believe that the Vedas are scientific manuals. Most of the people who make ridiculous claims about "Vedic science" know neither the Vedas nor the sciences. It is a bad attempt to make a first-rate religious philosophy into a third-rate pseudo-science. MImAmsA and VedAnta do accept the validity of science in answering questions concerning the physical world, but reject the idea that science by itself can give us answers on two important subjects: 1) Ethics and moral values. 2) Nature of the Self or Consciousness. Since science cannot shed light on these topics, the MImAmsA-VedAnta teachings are valid in these domains. PM and VedAnta -------------- The most serious objections to advaita VedAnta come from PM, and Shankara devotes more effort to the refutation of PM compared to other viewpoints in the Brahma sUtra BhAshhya. This is probably due to the fact that PM was the most well-established among the various schools of Vedic exegesis during Shankara's time (perhaps even before his time), and posed the strongest objections to establishing VedAnta. Hence it is important to understand the similarities and differences between PM and VedAnta. VedAnta's acceptance of PM:- 1) VedAnta accepts the theory of pramANas in PM. Thus, the basic epistemology as expounded by PM is shared by VedAnta also. 2) VedAnta regards PM as an authority on matters relating to dharma. If one has doubts concerning one's dharma or duty, PM alone can resolve the doubts. Whatever PM says in regard to the question, "What ought to be done?" is the final conclusion on the subject, even according to VedAnta. The how, why, when and where of the performance of Vedic rituals such as agnihotra, soma yAga, etc. are all explained in detail in PM and not in VedAnta. This is akin to the acceptance of science as authoritative on matters relating to the physical world. When it comes to questions like, "How does the earth revolve round the sun?", or "What is the chemical composition of alcohol?", the answers obtained by science are accepted as authoritative. In the same manner, all of PM's conclusions and teachings on what constitutes dharma are accepted as valid by VedAnta. VedAnta's objections to PM:- It is not possible to consider all the objections that VedAnta raises against PM, as that would take up the entire study of VedAnta by itself, but here are some important points where VedAnta deviates from PM: 1) Interpretation of upanishhadic statements As mentioned in the fifth posting on this series, PM classifies Vedic statements into vidhi/nishhedha (injunction/prohibition of action), arthavAda (praise of action) and mantra (reminder during the performance of action). Note that according to PM, all Vedic statements are associated with action. Therefore, the claim of PM amounts to saying that the Vedas are intimately connected with action - and action *alone*. VedAnta agrees with the claim of PM that the preliminaty portions of the Vedas that are known as "Karma KANDa" are connected with action. However, VedAnta disagrees with PM's claim that the upanishhads, constituting the last portion of the Vedas known as "GYAna KANDa", are also connected with action. For example, one of the statements in the chhAndogya upanishhad of the sAma Veda contains the statement: "tat tvam asi" (That You Are). It is obvious from the context that the word "tat" refers to Brahman. Can this statement be understood by PM's method of interpreting Vedic sentences? The statement "tat tvam asi" cannot be a vidhi or a nishhedha, for it neither commands nor forbids an action. It cannot be an arthavAda either, for the statement does not praise an action. Nor can it be a mantra, for there is no action that is being remembered and no deity being worshipped. If this statement cannot in any manner be related to action, what can PM say with regard to this statement? In fact, the statement is a VedAnta VAkya and is completely outside the scope of PM. The statement speaks of the identity of Atman and Brahman, and is within the domain of VedAnta. Shankara argues that once this statement is understood, the Atman is KNOWN to be unrelated to any action. It is only when the topic of upanishhadic Knowledge of Brahman arises that PM's limitations of Vedic exegesis become evident. 2) Existence of Ishvara According to PM, the results of moral action are automatically given by an unseen, but insentient force called apUrva. PM provides lengthy explanations of how there are several minor apUrvas created by each individual process of a yaGYa (the lighting of the sacrificial fire creates a minor apUrva, recital of certain mantras creates a minor apUrva, etc.), and all these minor apUrvas are "summed" into a final "effective apUrva" that is the "total unseen force" of a yaGYa, which automatically awards the fruit of the yaGYa . This is not accepted by VedAnta, for it is impossible for an unitelligent force to judge the performance of moral actions. Therefore, VedAnta holds that the results of moral action are awarded by an Omniscient Ishvara . 3) Final Goal In VedAnta, two paths are considered - Karma and GYAna mArgas, with the latter leading to mukti, while PM does not even recognize a GYAna mArga. In this context, there is difference between the two schools as to what the final goal of the Vedas is. VedAnta claims that it is mukti (liberation/salvation), whereas PM claims that it is svarga (pleasure-filled heaven). In the PM viewpoint, the Vedic path is : Birth-> Moral/immoral action-> Death-> Results of Action (svarga/naraka) VedAnta holds that the effects of Karma are transient, and results in rebirth of the individual: Birth-> Moral/immoral action-> Results of Past Action-> Death-> Rebirth ->...(Endless Cycle) Since it is impossible to break out of the endless cycle of samsAra by means of Karma, VedAnta teaches that the path leading to liberation is through GYAna, with Karma performed by one who is yet ineligible to take up sannyAsa. The emphasis is therefore not on Karma or action, but on *Karma Yoga* or *performace of moral action with detachment to its results*, which in turn leads to sannyAsa or renunciation of action, and finally to GYAna and mukti. Karma Yoga-> sAdhana-chatushhTaya-> sannyAsa-> BrahmaGYAna-> mukti Hence, the goal of VedAnta is not to attain svarga or heaven, because the fruits of action are transient, but on breaking free of the vicious cycle of birth and death and attaining Wisdom that is permanent. 4) Role of scripture Both PM and VedAnta accept the Vedas and smR^itis as shabda pramANa, but differ on the true import of the shruti vAkyas. In PM, one *gains* knowledge of dharma from the Vedas, just as one gains knowledge of music by studying under a musician. In VedAnta, the shruti vAkyas *remove* ignorance of the Self. It is not as though knowledge of the Self can be gained from shruti - for the Self is ever-revealed. But the superimposition of the world on the Self is dissolved by the shruti vAkyas, and what remains is knowledge of the Self. KumArila's Birthplace --------------------- The entry for "Kumarila" in the Encyclopaedia Britannica reads, "Flourished AD 730 also called Kumarilla-bhatta, South Indian dialectician, teacher, and interpreter of Jaimini's Mimamsa-sutras". There is reason to believe that KumArila was not born in South India: 1) Ganganath Jha writes, "KumArila's reference to Tamil loosely as AndhradrAviDa is further evidence in favour of general ignorance of the Aryans about the South" . It is unlikely that Jha would be mistaken on this point. 2) The few times that KumArila refers to Tamil, he calls it "mleccha BhAshhA". If he were really from South India, he probably would not have called Tamil by that name. A PM curiousity --------------- KumArila considers the festival of "Holi" - which he calls "HolAkA" - and concludes that it is "authoritative and dhArmic conduct" for some peoples of India! Apparently, a reference to this festival is to be found in Shabara BhAshhya as well. This festival must therefore be quite ancient.