So far, Dvaita, Viśiṣṭādvaita (both classified under Vedānta), Sāṁkhya, Yoga, Vaiśeṣika and Nyāya have been discussed under philosophies. There are six types of philosophies formed under three groups and each group has a pair. Vaiśeṣika and Nyāya; Sāṁkhya and Yoga; and Mīmāṁsā and Vedānta.
Mīmāṁsā means reasoned conclusion and is broadly divided into two divisions – Pūrva Mīmāṁsā and Uttara Mīmāṁsā. Mīmāṁsā is so called because it clarifies certain points of Vedānta that are doubtful in nature, mainly because of one’s inability to understand properly (spiritual ignorance). Pūrva Mīmāṁsā elucidates karma-kāṇḍa of Vedas (ritualistic worship). Uttara Mīmāṁsā deals with philosophical aspects and hence known as jñāna-kāṇḍa and mainly dwells on Upaniṣad-s. Upaniṣad-s can be explained as Sacred Texts that remove ignorance about the Spirit (spiritual ignorance).
According to Pūrva Mīmāṁsā, sacrificial rites that are permitted by Vedas yield good results and benefits accrue (as a result of prayoga, which means application) and sacrificial rites (such as animal sacrifices) that are not permitted by Vedas and as a result, undesirable results accrue. To put this in simple terms, Pūrva Mīmāṁsā deals with Vedic rituals and Uttara Mīmāṁsā deals with Self-realization. Former dwells only on actions and the latter disowns sacrifices and says that Brahman can be attained only through mind (spiritual knowledge). There are various Upaniṣad-s that explain different ways to attain Brahman through knowledge and contemplation. Upaniṣad-s do not accept any forms for Brahman. Though, Vedas also do not give any forms to Brahman, still they speak about different gods and goddesses and in order to appease them, several sacrifices are performed such as yajña-s and homa-s and various other ritualistic worships. Pūrva Mīmāṁsā is of the strong opinion that Vedas exist from eternity and give more importance to ritualistic portions known as Brāhmaṇa (usage of mantras and hymns for sacrificial rites). This can be explained through the following example. In a ritualistic worship (as described in Brāhmaṇa), sacrificial fire is made in a pit and oblations are offered into the fire and it is believed that the effect of these oblations are carried by god of fire Agni to the respective gods. If that god is satisfied, he or she will give boons. Most of the times, the desired results are not achieved because the rituals would not have been performed (procedural lapses, wrong pronunciation of mantras, etc), as prescribed by Vedas. This is the faith of pūrva Mīmāṁsā. As opposed to this, Uttara Mīmāṁsā says that Brahman should be contemplated and realized within, in order to attain liberation. Pūrva Mīmāṁsā gave rise to Śrautra-sūtra-s and Uttara Mīmāṁsā gave rise to Upaniṣad-s. As the latter one deals with Self-realization through knowledge and contemplation, no separate interpretations are available, as Upaniṣad-s themselves explain everything in detail. Commentary is available only for Pūrva Mīmāṁsā, which is generally called Mīmāṁsā.
Mīmāṁsā (pūrva) also dwells on the theory of multitudes of souls of all living beings. It also talks about souls without physical bodies and these souls are called liberated souls. Mīmāṁsā accepts Law of Karma and souls go to heaven or hell based on the Law of Karma. Though it accepts the theory of rebirth, it does not accept the concept of annihilation of the universe. According to Mīmāṁsā, the universe constantly exists as the same, without any expansion. Though it is said that Mīmāṁsā saved the Sacred Vedas over a period of time, yet it does not accept the existence of Īśvara, the Brahman. There are contradictory interpretations about knowledge and consciousness in Mīmāṁsā. Mīmāṁsā believes only in actions that are approved by Vedas. The actions that are permissible and not permissible are explained in dharma śāstra-s and are in the form of precepts. Those who follow these precepts go to heaven and those who do not follow the precepts go to hell. A soul gets bound by the gross body and gets attached to the sensory inputs through the mind. The extent of soul’s rebirth such as the family in which it is born, education, wealth, etc depend on karmic imprints. When one stays away from the accrual of karmas, and when the existing karmic imprints are exhausted, the soul realizes its original purity.
Mīmāṁsā by and large proceed on the lines of Vaiśeṣika and Nyāya philosophies. Mīmāṁsā believes that if one lives strictly according to dharma śāstra-s, he is freed, however subject to his karmas. Generally speaking, Mīmāṁsā attaches more importance to actions rather than knowledge. These actions should be done without any desires. During later stages, when Mīmāṁsā evolved to believe that both and knowledge and action are necessary for liberation, Advaita Vedānta blossomed. Practically speaking, except Advaita and Trika all other philosophies are superfluous in someway or other. Though Advaita is discussed more seriously than others, in reality people follow only Viśiṣṭādvaita. People continue to worship different forms of gods and goddesses. Advaita clearly emphasizes “I am Brahman” or “I am That” and this is not followed in letter and spirit and as a result of which, humanity continues to suffer from spiritual ignorance and delusion.
Following conversation between a Guru and his disciple will explain this.
Guru to his disciple: “My dear disciple! You have now evolved to pursue the path of spirituality. You have been worshipping the idol that I have given to you for the past three years. Now, time has come for you to seek spiritual path. Give that idol to another disciple and stop all your rituals. Do more japa-s and spend maximum time in meditation.”
Disciple: “Guruji! You want me to stop all my daily pūja-s?”
Guru: “Very good! You have understood me perfectly.”
Disciple: “But Guruji! I cannot stop my pūja-s. They have become part of my daily life. Further, God will be angry with me if I stop my pūja-s. Society will also think bad about me. My family will consider me as an atheist.”
Guru: “So you are doing pūja-s only to get appreciation from your family and the society. You aim is not to attain liberation?”
Disciple: “No, Guruji! I want to attain liberation, but at the same time, I want to continue with my pūja-s. I don’t want others look at me as an atheist. I beg you Guruji, please do not ask me to stop my pūja-s. I don’t want God to be angry with me.”
Guru: “Listen; I am saying that you should attain liberation. The time has come for you to move away from rituals. Why are you seeking God outside your consciousness? Your consciousness itself is God. As long as you are performing rituals, liberation will be inordinately delayed and postponed. You have done enough pūja-s. That is enough for your spiritual foundation. Now try to realize Brahman within you. If you still indulge in pūja-s, you will not find time to acquire Supreme knowledge to attain liberation. Without possessing Supreme knowledge, liberation cannot be attained. Therefore, I am commanding you that you should stop all your pūja-s and come to me daily to listen to my lectures on Brahman and ways and means to attain him.”
Disciple: “Please forgive me Guruji. I will come to you daily for your lectures. But I certainly cannot stop my pūja-s. My pūja-s are very important to me and they have become part of my life. As I am living amongst many religious people, I cannot stop pūja-s. I get immense pleasure in my daily offerings to God, in adoring the idol with flowers, offering fragrance, etc. Without doing these things, I will not even get sleep. If I don’t do these, I know for sure that God will be angry with me and will curse me” forgetting that he is talking to his Guru.
Guruji: “I have miscalculated you. Do whatever you like” and after saying this, Guruji got up and walked away. He was talking to himself, “I don’t know whether this is due to his karma or continued influence of māyā. He is a very good person and it is surprising why he could not understand the Reality. He will realize this one day and will come back to me. I will wait for that day.”