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The New International Encyclopædia/Mimamsa

MIMAMSA, mē̇-mäm′sȧ (Skt. mīmāṁsā, investigation, discussion). The collective name of two of the six orthodox systems of Hindu philosophy. The two Mimamsa divisions are: first, the Pūrva-mīmāṁsā, ‘Prior Inquiry’ or Karma-mīmāṁsā, “Inquiry concerning Works”; the second is Uttara-mīmāṁsā, ‘Later Inquiry’ or Brahma-mīmāṁsā, ‘Inquiry concerning the Supreme Spirit,’ or more commonly simply Vēdānta (q.v.). As a matter of fact, the two systems comprised under the name Mimamsa have little in connnon, though both are theistic in nature and both arose about the beginning of our era. The former deals chiefly with the Vedic ritual and its significance, the latter with speculations as to the nature of the Supreme Spirit.

The reputed founder of the system is Jaimini, and the principles are embodied in a series of Sūtras, or aphorisms, in twelve books, discussing the sacred ceremonies of the Veda and the merit accruing from their proper performance. The oldest extant commentary on this obscure work is the Bhāshya of Sabara-Svamin, whose date is placed long after the birth of Christ. This composition in turn was critically annotated, about A.D. 700, by the great Mimamsa authority, Kumarila.

The Mimamsa system has been one to which less attention has been given by European scholars than to any of the others. One of the earliest treatises on the subject was an essay on the Mimamsa by Colebrooke in 1826, reprinted in his Miscellaneous Essays (London, 1873). Consult: Garbe, Philosophy of Ancient India (Chicago, 1897); Max Müller, The Six Systems of Ancient Indian Philosophy (New York, 1899); Cowell and Gough, The Sarva-Darśana-Samgraha of Madhava Achārya (Loudon, 1894).