Mīmāṃsā (Sanskrit: "investigation") is the name of an astika ("orthodox") school of Hindu philosophy whose primary enquiry is into the nature of dharma based on close hermeneutics of the Vedas. Its core tenets are ritualism (orthopraxy), anti-asceticism and anti-mysticism. The central aim of the school is elucidation of the nature of dharma, understood as a set ritual obligations and prerogatives to be performed properly. The nature of dharma isn't accessible to reason or observation, and must be inferred from the authority of the revelation contained in the Vedas, which are considered eternal, authorless (apaurusheyatva), and infallible. Mimamsa is more accurately known as Pūrva Mīmāṃsā "prior inquiry" since it investigates the "earlier" (pūrva) portions of the Vedas, while Uttara Mīmāṃsā ("posterior or higher inquiry") is the opposing school of Vedanta. This division is based on the notion of a dichotomy of the Vedic texts into a karma-kanda, including the Samhitas and Brahmanas and the jnana-kanda of the Upanishads.


The foundational text for the Mimamsa school is the Purva Mimamsa Sutras of Jaimini (ca. 3rd to 1st century BC). A major commentary was composed by Śābara in ca. the 5th or 6th century. The school reaches its height with Kumarila Bhatta and Prabhākara (fl. ca. AD 700). The school for some time in the Early Middle Ages exerted near-dominant influence on learned Hindu thought, and is credited as a major force contributing to the decline of Buddhism in India, but it has fallen into decline in the High Middle Ages and today is all but eclipsed by Vedanta. Mimamsa is still the only one of the six orthodox darshanas besides Vedanta to survive into contemporary Hinduism. There are two surviving traditions, the Bhattas and the Prabhakaras, following Bhatta and Prabhakara, respectively.



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