- Mīmāṃsānyāyasaṅgraha: A Compendium on the Principles of Mīmāṃsā by Mahādeva Vedāntin
The Purpose of the Mīmāṃsānyāyasaṅgraha (MNS) and Its Translation
The Purpose of This Book
Some of the criticism frequently seen in book reviews is due to the reviewer's desire to have read something else. Indeed, I do not wish to judge James Benson's Mīmāṃsānyāyasaṅgraha: A Compendium on the Principles of Mīmāṃsā from the standpoint of what I would have written if I had been in his place. And thus, I will start by outlining his work and the goals he had in mind.
The central part of this extensive book consists in a critical edition of a previously unpublished Mīmāṃsā work together with its first English translation. All the other sections, including the introduction, summary of topics, and indexes, must be understood as subsidiary.
The editor is aware of the fact that the seventeenth-century Mīmāṃsānyāyasaṅgraha, while certainly a rich compendium of Mīmāṃsā topics, is not in itself a masterpiece of Indian thought: [End Page 575]
The text itself is not particularly original, but it was never its purpose to be so. Its author tells us that his intention is to give beginners a quick and concise understanding of the system. The resulting work, far shorter than the more famous (and still untranslated) texts of Pārthasārathi Miśra, Mādhava, and Khaṇḍadeva, from which it drew most of its material, could perhaps still serve its original function.(pp. 15–16)
And he is also clear about the purpose of his translation:
I have included a translation with this edition of the MNS, primarily because there are very few translations of any Mīmāṃsā texts in western languages, and none of the three main texts on which the MNS is largely based, i.e., the ŚD [Pārthasārathi Miśra's Śāstradīpikā], the JNMV [Mādhava's Jaiminīyanyāyamālā and Vistara commentary thereon], and the BhD [Khaṇḍadeva's Bhāṭṭadīpikā]. The annotation to the translation could have been far larger, given the density of the vedic material and the fact that more than 1200 years of tradition separates Mahādeva from Śabara. A great deal more could have been reported about most of the topics. My objective was not to try to hang a history of Mīmāṃsā literature on the comparatively slender framework of this short work, which I would not be competent to do in any case, but to enable students to follow Mahādeva's introduction to the science with as few impediments as possible.(pp. 37–38)
In short, as the title of the volume suggests, this work is targeted at scholars interested in Mīmāṃsā who wish to read a Mīmāṃsā text in Sanskrit and English (using the translation as an aid to understanding the text, or as a guideline within it). Such readers will be extremely grateful to Benson for this remarkable work (the critical edition alone is nearly three hundred pages long), as well as for its accuracy and for the overview it offers of what was considered essential in late Mīmāṃsā thought. The present reviewer is especially pleased by the many MNS sources quoted in the apparatus of the Sanskrit text. Also noteworthy is the in-depth study of the Vedic context.
Is This Approach Reasonable?
The MNS is a technical compendium that debates specific cases in the same order they are discussed in the Mīmāṃsāsūtra and in its primary commentary, Śabara's Bhāṣya. As well as clarifying many points, the MNS often offers the additional advantage of presenting the point of view of individual Mīmāṃsakas, including Śabara, Kumārila, and the "New...