Classical Indian Philosophy Purva-Mimamsa: Epistemology and the Concept of Shruti

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Classical Indian Philosophy Epistemology: Purva-Mimamsa (Philosophy)

Introduction- The School

  • Vedas are divided into Mantras, Brahmanas, Aryanakas and Upanishads.
  • Mantras and Brahmanas deal with karma-kanda which is accepted by Purva-Mimamsa.
  • As a result, Purva-Mimamsa is also known as Karma-Mimamsa.
  • The founder of Purva-Mimamsa school is Jaimini.
  • Jaimini accepts three pramanas or sources of knowledge, namely, perception, inference and verbal testimony.

The Concept of Shruti

  • The aim of Purva-Mimamsa school is to ascertain the nature of Dharma.
  • Dharma, or the knowledge of dharma is possible only through the Vedas via the means of shruti.
  • Vedas deal with the acts of duties (dharma) or they precise duties or action which leads to beneficial results for the performer.
  • According to Jaimini, Vedas are eternal in nature for the words they are composed of are eternal.
  • So, vedas manifest their own reality and validity.
  • Vedas are apaurusheya or author-less, they are eternal in nature and because they are author-less, they are also defect-less.


According to the school, the contents of the Vedas are classified into five categories. The five categories are;

1. Injunctions or vidhi

2. Hymns or mantras

3. Names or namadheya

4. Prohibitions or nishedha

5. Explanatory passages or arthavada

1. Injunctions:

  • They deal with the details of sacrifice.
  • In other words, they explain how a sacrifice needs to be carried out, etc.
  • Injunctions compel one to act, to perform an action for a certain desired result.
  • For example, svarga-kama-yajeta- in-order to attain or desire heaven one has to perform sacrifices.

2. Hymns:

  • They remind the one performing the sacrifice to remain connected with the act of sacrifice.
  • For example, mantras remind the sacrifice of the oblations to be made to deities.
  • Some mantras also possess mystical and super-sensuous effects and, in a way, they contribute directly to transcendental results.
  • They are also called as Apurva.

3. Names:

  • Names deal with the result or the conclusion of the actions that are to be obtained from performing the act of sacrifice.

4. Prohibitions:

They are only injunctions or vidhi in disguise.

5. Explanatory passages:

  • They deal with those sentences which deal with either the praise of the things enjoyed or prasamsa, or contain things to be prohibited or things to be refrained from or ninda.
  • They also contain the description of the doings of others or parakrti and instances from history or purakalpa.
  • All these together are called, artha-Sangraha.


1. According to Purva-Mimamsa, the content of Vedas is classified into ________ categories

A. Four

B. Five

C. Six

D. None of these

Answer: B

2. svarga-kama-yajeta is an example of

A. Mantra

B. Injunction

C. Arthavada

D. All of these

Answer: B

3. ________ are vidhis in disguise

A. Names

B. Prohibitions

C. Injunction

D. Both B and C

Answer: B