Sabda in Mimamsa and Advaita System Sabda- pramāna are given the greatest importance in Mimamsa. Sabara defines testimony as the knowledge of an object which is not present to a sense-organ produced by the knowledge of words. Kumarilla divides testimony into human and superhuman. The former is the testimony of 9 trustworthy persons while the latter is the testimony of the Vedas. The former is valid if it is uttered by persons of trustworthy character, while the latter is valid in itself. Authority may either give information as to the existence of objects or give directions for the performance of some action. The Mimamsa is primarily interested in the impersonal authority of the Vedas because the Vedas give directions for performing sacrificial rites. The Vedas are looked upon as the book of commandments. According to most of the pro-vedic schools, the authority of the Vedas lies in their being the words of God. But Mimamsa, who does not believe in any creator or destroyer of the world, believes that the Vedas like the world are eternal.

According to Mimamsa, the Vedas are eternal and authorless. It is not the work of any person, human or divine. The sages are only seers and not authors of the Vedas. The Veda is not composed or spoken by God. According to the Mimamsakas there is no God and hence vedic statements are impersonal. Therefore the vedic commandments can never be contradicted by any source of valid knowledge. There can be no inner contradictions in the veda itself. Hence the vedic testimony is valid in itself. Prabhakara recognizes only the vedic testimony as the real testimony and reduces human testimony to inference because its validity is inferred from the trustworthy character of the person speaking. The Mimamsa system furnishes several arguments to prove that the Vedas are impersonal.

They argue that if the Vedas had any author, his name should have been known and remembered because they have been in constant use and have been passed down by an unbroken series of successive generations of teachers and learners from unknown antiquity. To defend the eternality and the authorless nature of the Vedas, the Mimamsakas put forward the theory that words and meanings as well as their relation are all natural and eternal. A word (sabda) is constituted of two or more letters and is a mere aggregate of letters and not a whole, though the letters must occur in a particular order. A varna is regarded as an articulated sound. It is eternal, omnipresent and integral. A varna is eternal and immutable. The infallibility of the authority of the Vedas is founded on the fact that they are not vitiated by any defects to which the work of imperfect persons is subject.

To know the authority of vedas, we need to know the development and existential truth aspect related to the almighty which is established in the vedas which talk about the promulgation of this metaphysical and ontological world- about the god, i.e. God, which is: (1) Omnipresent- it could be understood as the fact that the god is in possession of all the knowledge of past, present and future events and happenings of the universe; the knowledge is proper, pure and unlimited in nature. Then, we have the (2) Omnipresent- it could be understood as the fact that the god is present everywhere in the universe, the god is thereby, an all-pervading entity. In addition to these, we are incorporating the idea of (3) Omnipotent- it could be comprehended by the fact that the god is having all the potency, complete power and because of this, the almighty is having the full control of the universe. God is (4) Eternality- which could be further broken down into the aspect that, the god is immortal, no limited by space and time, has no beginning or ending. With this, we also have the concept of (5) Infinity- the ultimate reality is infinite and endless; it is not constrained by any restrictions which are not created by his wish and is therefore, benevolent, and not limited by anything.

Although the testimony of the reliable person also is accepted by the Bhatta school as a valid source of knowledge, still 10 the vedic authority has special credibility since it will never be contradicted by any pramāna. The order in which the words occur in the literary works is determined by their authors and therefore the works are subject to defects. But the order in which the words occur in the Veda is self-determined and therefore intrinsically valid. Advaita Vedanta begins its theory of the criterion of knowledge by an examination of criteria of the other Indian systems. Sankara, following Nyāya, admits perception, inference and verbal testimony as means of valid knowledge.

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Chaitanya Sharma
B.A Philosophy (Hons.) from Hansraj College, University of Delhi


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