Achintya Bheda Abheda
Achintya Bheda Abheda
Shastras and Sutras
Other Indian philosophies
Kumārila Bhaṭṭa (fl. roughly 700) was a
Hindu philosopher and
Mīmāṃsā scholar from present-day India. He is famous for many of
his various theses on Mimamsa, such as Mimamsaslokavarttika.
Bhaṭṭa was a staunch believer in the supreme validity of Vedic
injunction, a great champion of Pūrva-
Mīmāṃsā and a confirmed
ritualist. The Varttika is mainly written as a subcommentary of
Sabara's commentary on Jaimini's Purva
Mimamsa Sutras. His philosophy
is classified by some scholars as existential realism.
Scholars differ as regards Kumārila Bhaṭṭa's views on a personal
God. For example, Manikka Vachakar believed that Bhaṭṭa promoted a
personal God (saguna brahman), which conflicts with the
Mīmāṃsā school. In his Varttika,
Kumārila Bhaṭṭa goes to
great lengths to argue against the theory of a creator God and held
that the actions enjoined in the Veda had definite results without an
Bhaṭṭa is also credited with the logical formulation of the
Mimamsic belief that the
Vedas are unauthored (apauruṣeyā). In
particular, his defence against medieval Buddhist positions on Vedic
rituals is noteworthy. Some believe that this contributed to the
Buddhism in India, because his lifetime coincides with
the period in which
Buddhism began to decline. Indeed, his
dialectical success against Buddhists is confirmed by Buddhist
historian Taranatha, who reports that Bhaṭṭa defeated disciples of
Buddhapalkita, Bhavya, Dharmadasa, Dignaga and others. His work
strongly influenced other schools of Indian philosophy, with the
exception that while
Mimamsa considers the
Upanishads to be
subservient to the Vedas, the
Vedanta school does not think so.
1 Early life
2 Linguistics views
3 Criticism of Buddhism
4 Legendary life
8 External links
The birthplace of Kumarila Bhatta is uncertain. According to the 16th
century Buddhist scholar Taranatha, Kumarila was a native of South
India. However, Anandagiri's Shankara-Vijaya states that Kumarila came
from "the North" (udagdeśāt), and persecuted the Buddhists and the
Jains in the South.
Another theory is that he came from eastern India, specifically
Kamarupa (present-day Assam). Sesa's Sarvasiddhanta-rahasya uses the
Bhattacharya for him. His writings indicate that he was
familiar with the production of silk, which was common in present-day
Kumārila Bhaṭṭa and his followers in the
known as Bhāṭṭas argued for a strongly Compositional view of
semantics (called abhihitānvaya). In this view, the meaning of a
sentence was understood only after understanding first the meanings of
individual words. Words were independent, complete objects, a view
that is close to the Fodorian view of language. He also used several
Tamil words in his poems, including one of the earliest mention of the
name Dravida in North Indian sources.
This view was debated over some seven or eight centuries by the
Prabhākara school within Mīmāṃsā, who argued that
words do not directly designate meaning; any meaning that arises is
because it is connected with other words (anvitābhidhāna, anvita =
connected; abhidhāna = denotation). This view was influenced by the
holistic arguments of Bhartṛhari's sphoṭa theory.
Essentially the prābhākaras argued that sentence meanings are
grasped directly, from perceptual and contextual cues, skipping the
stage of grasping singly the individual word meanings, similar to
the modern view of linguistic underspecification, which relates to the
Dynamic Turn in Semantics, that also opposes purely compositional
approaches to sentence meaning.
Criticism of Buddhism
With the aim to prove the superiority of Vedic scripture, Kumārila
Bhaṭṭa presented several novel arguments:
1. "Buddhist (or Jain) scripture could not be correct because it had
several grammatical lapses." He specifically takes the Buddhist verse:
ime samkhada dhamma sambhavanti sakarana akarana vinassanti (These
phenomena arise when the cause is present and perish when the cause is
absent). Thus he presents his argument:
The scriptures of Buddhists and Jains are composed in overwhelmingly
incorrect (asadhu) language, words of the Magadha or Dakshinatya
languages, or even their dialects (tadopabhramsa). Therefore false
compositions (asannibandhana), they cannot possibly be true knowledge
(shastra) ... By contrast, the very form itself (the
well-assembled language) of the Veda proves its authority to be
independent and absolute.
This argument of Bhaṭṭa relies heavily on his idea that the
meanings of each individual word should be complete for the sentence
to have a meaning. It may be noted, that the
Pali Canon was
intentionally recorded in local dialects and not in languages germane
only to the scholarly.
2. Every extant school held some scripture to be correct. To show that
the Veda was the only correct scripture, Bhaṭṭa ingeniously said
that "the absence of an author would safeguard the Veda against all
reproach" (apaurusheya). There was "no way to prove any of the
contents of Buddhist scriptures directly as wrong in spirit...",
unless one challenges the legitimacy and eternal nature of the
scripture itself. It is well known that the
Pali Canon was composed
after the Buddha's parinirvana. Further, even if they were the
Buddha's words, they were not eternal or unauthored like the Vedas.
Sautrantika Buddhist school believed that the universe was
momentary (kshanika). Bhaṭṭa said that this was absurd, given that
the universe does not disappear every moment. No matter how small one
would define the duration of a moment, one could divide the moment
into infinitely further parts. Bhaṭṭa argues: "if the universe is
does not exist between moments, then in which of these moments does it
exist?" Because a moment could be infinitesimally small, Bhaṭṭa
argued that the Buddhist was claiming that the universe was
4. The Determination of perception (pratyaksha pariccheda).
Some scholars believe, Bhaṭṭa's understanding of Buddhist
philosophy was far greater than that of any other non-Buddhist
philosopher of his time.
According to Buton Rinchen Drub, Kumārila spoke abusively towards his
nephew, Dharmakīrti, as he was taking his brahminical garments. This
Dharmakīrti away, and resolving to vanquish all non-Buddhist
heretics he took the robes of the Buddhist order instead.
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According to legend, Bhaṭṭa went to study
largest 4th century university in the world), with the aim of refuting
Buddhist doctrine in favour of Vedic religion. He was expelled from
the university when he protested against his teacher (Dharmakirti)
ridiculing the Vedic rituals. Legend has it that even though he was
thrown off of the university's tower, he survived with an eye injury.
Mimamsa scholars and followers of
Vedanta believe that this
was because he imposed a condition on the infallibility of the Vedas
thus encouraging the
Hindu belief that one should not even doubt the
infallibility of the Vedas.) Kumarila Bhatta is an avatar of
Kumaraswamy, the son
Parvati and Shiva. The main purpose of this
avatar was to protect the Vedas(karma marham poojaa, abhishekam,
yagynam, yahan, homam) which were dwindling away from the then India
Vedas are and continue to remain to define Bharatha
desam from which the present day India has took it's shape,
co-existing along with many other religious beliefs.
Kumārila Bhaṭṭa left
Nalanda after that and settled down in
Prayag (modern day Allahabad). Bhaṭṭa visited many kingdoms and
regionalities to debate with the Buddhist pundits. It was tradition at
that time that whoever wins a debate in the King's court, their
philosophy and ideology would be accepted by the King and by the
subjects. To prevent the further downfall of Vedic Sanskruti,
Kumārila Bhaṭṭa had defeated many Buddhist pundits and saved the
country from Buddhist supremacy. It so happened that the jealous
Buddhist scholars, who were unable to defeat Bhaṭṭa in debates,
challenged him to a stunt. They said, "If your
Vedas are the Truth,
you should survive even when you fall from the top of a mountain."
Kumārila Bhaṭṭa had utter conviction and faith in the
Shrutis and readily accepted this challenge. He proclaimed, "If the
Vedas are the Ultimate Truth, I should survive" and was pushed from
the top of a building. In doing so, he survived but there was a
scratch above his right eye. He questioned mother of the Vedas,
Gayatri mata, who replied in the form of a voice from the sky, "You
had a small doubt about the truthfulness of the Vedas, which was clear
by the usage of the word 'If'. That is the reason you got a small
hurt, but I spared your life, which is what you have asked for". Even
though he survived, he felt bad about cheating the buddhist pundits to
learn about buddhism.
He decided to take samadhi by burning himself on a pile of peanut
shells, which is said to be the most torturous death, to free himself
from the sin of cheating. This character study can be found in the
works of Pandurang Shastri Athavale.
One medieval work on the life of Sankara (considered most accurate)
claims that Sankara challenged Bhaṭṭa to a debate on his
Kumārila Bhaṭṭa could not debate Sankara and
instead directed him to argue with his student
Mandana Misra in
Mahiṣmati. He said:
"You will find a home at whose gates there are a number of caged
parrots discussing abstract topics like — 'Do the
self-validity or do they depend on some external authority for their
validity? Are karmas capable of yielding their fruits directly, or do
they require the intervention of God to do so? Is the world eternal,
or is it a mere appearance?' Where you find the caged parrots
discussing such abstruse philosophical problems, you will know that
you have reached Maṇḍana's place."
Another work on Sankara's life however claims that Sankara implored
Bhaṭṭa not to commit suicide. Another contradictory legend however
says that Bhaṭṭa continued to live on with two wives several
students, one of whom was Prabhākara. According to this legend,
Bhaṭṭa died in Varanasi at the age of 80.
Shlokavartika ("Exposition on the Verses", commentary on Shabara's
Commentary on Jaimini's
Mimamsa Sutras, Bk. 1, Ch. 1) 
Tantravartika ("Exposition on the Sacred Sciences", commentary on
Shabara's Commentary on Jaimini's
Mimamsa Sutras, Bk. 1, Ch. 2–4 and
Bks. 2–3) 
Tuptika ("Full Exposition"commentary on Shabara's Commentary on
Mimamsa Sutras, Bks. 4–9) 
Kataoka, Kei, Kumarila on Truth, Omniscience and Killing. Part 1: A
Critical Edition of Mimamasa-Slokavarttika ad 1.1.2 (Codanasutra).
Part 2: An Annotated Translation of Mimamsa-Slokavarttika ad 1.1.2
(Codanasutra) (Wien, 2011) (Sitzungsberichte der
philosophisch-historischen Klasse, 814; Beiträge zur Kultur- und
Geistesgeschichte Asiens, 68).
^ a b Sharma, pp. 5-6.
^ Bhatt, p. 6.
^ A History of Indian Philosophy By Surendranath Dasgupta. p. 156.
^ Bales, p. 198.
^ Sheridan, p. 198-201
^ Arnold, p. 4.
^ Bhatt, p. 3.
^ Kumārila Bhaṭṭa; Peri Sarveswara Sharma (1980). Anthology of
Kumārilabhaṭṭa's Works. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 11.
^ Biswanarayan Shastri (1995). Mīmāṁsā philosophy & Kumārila
Bhaṭṭa. Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan. p. 76.
^ Matilal, p. 108.
^ Pollock, p. 55.
^ Jha, p. 31.
^ Taber, p??
^ Rani, p??
^ Buton, Rinchen drub (1931). The History of
Buddhism in India and
Tibet. Translated by E. Obermiller. Heidelberg: Harrossowitz.
^ 'Madhaviya Sankara Digvijayam' by medieval Vijayanagara biographer
Madhava, Sringeri Sharada Press
Arnold, Daniel Anderson. Buddhists, Brahmins, and Belief: Epistemology
in South Asian Philosophy of Religion. Columbia University Press,
2005. ISBN 978-0-231-13281-7.
Bales, Eugene (1987). A Ready Reference to Philosophy East and West.
University Press of America.
Bhatt, Govardhan P. The Basic Ways of Knowing: An In-depth Study of
Kumārila's Contribution to Indian Epistemology. Delhi: Motilal
Banarasidass, 1989. ISBN 81-208-0580-1.
Kumarila Bhatta, Translated by Ganganatha Jha (1985). Slokavarttika.
The Asiatic Society, Calcutta.
Bimal Krishna Matilal (1990). The word and the world: India's
contribution to the study of language. Oxford.
Vijaya Rani (1982). Buddhist Philosophy as Presented in
Varttika. 1st Ed. Parimal Publications, Delhi ASIN B0006ECAEO.
Sheldon Pollock (2006). The Language of the Gods in the World of Men
– Sanskrit, Culture and Power in Premodern India. University of
Sharma, Peri Sarveswara (1980). Anthology of Kumārilabhaṭṭa's
Works. Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass.
Sheridan, Daniel P. "Kumarila Bhatta", in Great Thinkers of the
Eastern World, ed. Ian McGready, New York: Harper Collins, 1995.
Translated and commentary by John Taber (Jan 2005). A
of Buddhist Epistemology. Routledge ISBN 978-0-415-33602-4.
Text of Mimamsalokavarttika by Kumarila Bhatta (in transliterated
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