Duty, Language and Exegesis in Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā

Including an edition and translation of Rāmānujācārya’s Tantrarahasya, Śāstraprameyapariccheda


The book is an introduction to key concepts of Indian Philosophy, seen from the perspective of one of its most influential schools, the Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā, which flourished from the 7th until the 20th c. AD. The book includes the critical edition and translation of Rāmānujācārya's Śāstraprameyapariccheda, which is part of his Tantrarahasya (written in South India, after the 14th c.). This text has never been translated before and it is one of the clearest elaboration of the Prābhākara thought.

The book particularly aims at presenting the linguistic, deontic-ethic, hermeneutic and epistemo-logical thought of the Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā. Detailed glossary and indexes make it possible to use the book as a reference-tool for Indian philosophy and linguistics.

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Elisa Freschi, PhD in South Asian Studies, has studied both Indian and Western Philosophy. Currently Research Fellow of Sanskrit at the University “Sapienza”, Rome, Italy, she has published on the history of ideas in various schools of Indian philosophy.
"In this first ever translation of Rāmānujācārya’s Tantrarahasya she (Freschi [ed]) has unraveled the complicated inter-Mīmāṃsā argument over the prescription theory through minute philological investigation. In addition her succint explanation of the technical terms in Mīmāṃsā hermeneutics (chap. 4.) as well as the glossary supplied in the appendix, offer readers - even non-specialists - considerable help in better understanding Rāmānujācārya thought." - Taisei Shida, Kyoto University Japan



1. Author and Text
 1.1. Rāmānujācārya
 1.2. The Tantrarahasya
 1.3. Quotations in the Tantrarahasya
 1.4. Sources
 1.5. Structure of TR IV


2. Exhortation
 2.1. Bhāvanā and Vidhi According to the Bhāṭṭas
 2.2. Bhāṭṭa Theories on Exhortative Expressions in TR IV

3. Exhortation and Duty
 3.1. Prābhākara Theories on Exhortative Expressions in TR IV
 3.2. The Sacred Texts’ Loop (TR IV 9.1)
 3.3. A Possible Way Out (TR IV 9.2)
 3.4. Reaching Duty through Metaphor (TR IV 9.3–TR IV 9.3.2; TR IV 9.4–TR IV 9.5.1; TR IV 9.11)
 3.5. Actions and Duty
 3.6. An Unprecedented Duty Does Not Have to Be Grasped (TR IV 9.10–TR IV 9.10.4)
 3.7. Reasons to Act (TR IV 9.12–TR IV 9.15)
 3.8. Epistemological Conclusions of §2 and §3

4. Hermeneutics of Sacrifice
 4.1. Introduction
 4.2. Ritual Auxiliaries
 4.3. Archetypes and Ectypes (TR IV 6–TR IV 7)
 4.4. Bhāṭṭa Hermeneutics in TR IV
 4.5. Prābhākara Hermeneutics in TR IV

5. Prescriptions and Apūrva
 5.1. Prescriptions According to the Bhāṭṭas (TR IV 5)
 5.2. Apūrva as the Centre of the Veda

6. Desire and Contrary-to-Duty Obligations
 6.1. Desire (TR IV 10.2–TR IV 10.11)
 6.2. The Śyena Sacrifice (TR IV 3.16.1, TR IV 4.3.3, TR IV
 6.3. Śyena according to Deontic Logic (TR IV 11.3.1)

7. Grammar and Exegesis
 7.1. Kārakas as Functions (TR IV 3.13.2, TR IV 11.7.1)
 7.2. Linguistic Implications of TR Hermeneutics (and Vice Versa)


8. Methodology and Introductory Remarks
 8.1. Tantrarahasyaśikṣā 2177 Mysore
 8.2. History of M and Dating
 8.3. Evaluation of the Witnesses and an Attempt of a Stemma Codicum
 8.4. Critical Edition


1. maṅgala

2. siddhānta on kārya as the Core of Prescriptions

3. PP: The Linguistic bhāvanā is the Core of Prescriptions
 3.1. Ma˙ n˙dana: A Prescription Expresses the Means for Realising What Is Desired
 3.2. Pārthasārathi Miśra against TR IV 3.1
 3.3. Other Bhāṭṭas: The Notion That the Action to Be Undertaken Is an Instrument to a Desired End might Be Implicit
 3.4. PP (Ritualists): The Prescription Is Tantamount to the Optative and Similar Suffixes
 3.5. UP: Then Everyone Would Act! If There Are Further Conditions, the Thesis Has already Been Refuted
 3.6. Kumārila on Linguistic bhāvanā and Objective bhāvanā (vs. TR IV 3.1.1)
 3.7. S against TR IV 3.6
 3.8. Kumārila: Optative and Similar Suffixes Express Two bhāvanās (as above TR IV 3.6; vs. TR IV 3.7)
 3.9. S: Verbal Suffixes Do not Express the bhāvanā, but just the Agent’s Number
 3.10. S: Optative and Similar Suffixes Express the Notion that Something Must Be Done and, therefore, also the bhāvanā
 3.11. PP/ekadeśin against TR IV 3.10: The bhāvanā could Be Understood as a Specification of What Must Be Done
 3.12. Further Arguments of the S about Duty Implying an E_fort and not the Opposite
 3.13. Other Bhāṭṭas: The Prescription is the Function of the Optative and Similar Suffixes, and It Is a Cognition
 3.14. Bhāṭṭa Continuing TR IV 3.13
 3.15. Pārthasārathi Miśra vs. TR IV 3.14: The Function of Optative and Similar Suffixes Cannot Incite
 3.16. Bhāṭṭa Adjusting TR IV 3.13 According to TR IV 3.15
 3.17. (Siddhānta among Bhāṭṭas) Pārthasārathi: Incitement Can Be of Four Kinds. It Is Surely of the Fourth Type in the Veda, as this is Authorless

4. Connections of Elements to the Principal Prescription (According to Pārthasārathi Miśra)
 4.1. Connection of Semantemes within the Prescriptive Sentence
 4.2. Connection of Other Sentences to the Main Sentence
 4.3. Means of Knowledge for Ascertaining the Connection of the bhāvanā, of What Must Be Realised, of the Instrument, and of the Procedure in Archetypes

5. Kinds of Prescriptions
 5.1. Originative Prescription and Its Inner Partition (Prescription about the Unprecedented and Restrictive Prescription)
 5.2. Application Prescription
 5.3. Prescription regarding the Responsibility
 5.4. Promoting Prescription
 5.5. Interactions among Prescriptions

6. Accomplishing the Prescription in Archetypes
 6.1. Accomplishing the Prescription in Ectypes
 6.2. Differences between Archetype and Ectype for Accomplishing the Prescription: Principles of Analogical Extension
 6.3. Modifucation

7. Summary of the Bhāṭṭa Position
 7.1. Summary of TR IV 4–TR IV 6
 7.2. Summary of the siddhānta of TR IV 3

8. Siddhānta
 8.1. Siddhānta against TR IV 7.1
 8.2. Siddhānta against TR IV 3.17
 8.3. Siddhānta as in TR IV 2

9. Is the apūrva Denoted by Exhortative Endings?
 9.1. PP against TR IV 8.3: What Must Be Done Cannot Be Unprecedented, because Then One would not Comprehend Its Meaning
 9.2. Something to Be Done Can instead Be Expressed as an Action by the Verbal Root, while the Optative Endings only Express the Number (see supra TR IV 3.9–TR IV 3.10)
 9.3. S against the TR IV 9.2: The Optative (liṅ) and the Other Suffixes Surely Denote Something to Be Done. This Is Totally New (apūrva), because It Can Be Connected with “The One Who Is Desirous of Heaven” and Similar Words (Indicating an Enjoined Person) (and Heaven Can Only Be Brought about by Something Exceeding Our Normal Experience, see TR IV 9.3.2)
 9.4. PP: Let It Be That the Vedic Injunctions Express the Action as Something to Be Done
 9.5. S against TR IV 9.1: It Is Possible to Understand a Transcendent Thing to Be Done because One already Knows the Words Expressing It as Bearing the Meaning of an Action to Be Done, and the Syntactical Closeness to the Enjoined Person Specifies Them (the Words)
 9.6. PP (Prābhākara): One Can Learn the Meaning also with regard to a Transcendent Thing to Be Done
 9.7. S vs. TR IV 9.6: Only an Action Can Be Directly Understood, not a Transcendent Thing to Be Done
 9.8. PP (See TR IV 9.4.8): The Action Is Principal; That It Must Be Done Is Known through Indirect Signification
 9.9. S vs.TR IV 9.8: No, There Cannot Be Indirect Signification with regard to What Is Unprecedented
 9.10. PP (Maṇḍana), See TR IV 3.1, TR IV 9.4.8
 9.11. Summary of TR IV 9.9–TR IV 9.10: In Ordinary Experience, the Optative and Similar Suffixes Designate the Action and, through Inference, What Must Be Done; in the Veda, They Denote What Must Be Done as Shown by the Contiguity to Well-Known Words (See TR IV 9.5.1)
 9.12. PP vs. TR IV 9.11: One Acts because of Will (See supra, TR IV 3.8)
 9.13. S vs. TR IV 9.12
 9.14. PP: The Optative and Other Suffixes Designate Impulsion, Request and Consent, not What Must Be Done
 9.15. S vs. TR IV 9.14: Impulsion, etc., Merely Depend on Speaker and Hearer

10. Connection of the Result
 10.1. PP: In Optional Rituals the Result Is the Principal Element
 10.2. S vs. TR IV 10.1: The Result Is a Specification of the Enjoined Person
 10.3. The Real Thing to Be Brought about Is Just the Non-Precedented [Thing to Be Done]
 10.4. Succession of Desirous, Enjoined, Responsible, Agent
 10.5. What Happens if the Enjoined Person Is not Specified by a Result?
 10.6. PP: If a Result Is Needed as a Specification of the Enjoined Person, why Do Fixed and Occasional Rituals and Prohibitions not Have a Result?
 10.7. S vs. TR IV 10.6: Indeed, the Enjoined Person is Specified even in Fixed and Occasional Rituals
 10.8. PP/Naiyāyika: What Is Known through the Veda is Contradicted by Inference!
 10.9. S vs. TR IV 10.8: No Inference Can Occur with regard to Something That Is Known through the Veda
 10.10. PP: What Happens if Certain People, despite Being Endowed with Ritual Responsibility, Do not Act?
 10.11. Non-Performing Dharma, Which Is a Human Aim, Is in Itself Something not Desired

11. Connection of the Other Elements to the apūrva
 11.1. Connection vs. TR IV 4.2
 11.2. Aspects of the Non-Precedented Thing to Be Done, vs. TR IV 5
 11.3. The Promoter Role of the Non-Precedented Duty
 11.4. Promoting Power of Supreme and Intermediate apūrvas
 11.5. The Relation with the Enjoined Person Pertains to the Promoting apūrva
 11.6. The Connection of apūrva and Content is Inevitable
 11.7. Connection of the Meaning of the Verbal Root as the Instrument (cf. TR IV 3.13.2)

12. Summary of TR IV 10–TR IV 11 (vs. TR IV 4.2.8 and TR IV 7)
 12.1. Connection of the Full and New Moon Prescriptions as Prescribing a Single Sacrfice through Closeness, Expectation and Fitness
 12.2. Reciprocal Expression of Connected Words between the Auxiliaires and the Principal Prescription: The Difference between Directly and Indirectly Contributing Auxiliaries
 12.3. Grasping through the Grasper

13. Conclusion regarding apūrva as the Prescription

Index of Passages of TR IV
General Index
Students and scholars interested in Indian and comparative philosophy, in hermeneutics, ethics and epistemology applied to Sacred Texts, in linguistics, theory of ritual, philosophy of religion and history of ideas.
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