Life and Contributions of Maharshi Jaimini

Maharshi Jaimini

Jaimini Rishi is one of the most outstanding scholars and saints of Hindu philosophy. Maharishi Jaimini introduced the tradition of Purva-Mimamsa – a tradition of critically examining the pre-Vedic texts. Therefore, saint Jaimini founded the Mimamsa school of Hindu Philosophy to keep this tradition alive.

Maharshi Jaimini

Background History

There is no exact date that indicates Jaimini Rishi’s birth. Many historians believed Maharishi Jaimini was born around 4th to 2nd BCE, but some estimated around 250 BCE to 50 CE. He is the son of Maharshi Parashara and the disciple of the great sage Veda Vyasa.

His father, Rishi Parashara, was also a disciple of Veda Vyasa. As for Jaimini Rishi’s lineage, he had a son named Sumanta and a grandson Sukarma. Sages like Paila, Vaisampayana, and Sumantu learned four Vedas under Maharishi’s guidance. On the other hand, to Sage Lomaharsana, saint Jaimini taught him Puranas. Thus, he and his predecessor contributed to Sama Veda by creating hymns and music.

Jaimini Rishi and the birds

Once Maharishi Veda Vyasa told the Mahabharata story to his disciples, among them was Jaimini Rishi. However, he was confused and had questions. But he could not get the answers because sage Vyasa was on the verge of his pilgrimage. So, Jaimini Rishi met sage Markandeya. But, the Rishi Markandeya refused to give answers and advised sage Jaimini to meet the four wise birds in the Vindhya mountains. Those four birds could speak like humans and possesses a vast knowledge of all Vedas.

In the previous life, those birds were the sons of sage Sukrishaa.  Once, Lord Indra took the form of a bird to test the sage. The bird asked for the flesh. The sage ordered his children to offer themselves, which they refused. Feeling angered by their act, the sage cursed his children for becoming birds. From them, sage Jaimini got his answers to the questions related to the Kurukshetra.

Veda Vyasa tests Jaimini Rishi

Once Maharishi Ved Vyasa was teaching his young celibate disciples about the power of lust. He said lust or illusion possesses great strength. Even the wisest one cannot escape from its trap. So, you all have to be careful and must not interact with girls.

Contradicting his guru’s statements, Rishi Jaimini replied with pride that he follows Brahmacharya strictly and that no girls can distract him from celibacy. Listening to his words, sage Vyasa said, “He shall see,” and informed him that he would be visiting Vanarasa on a pilgrimage for three months.

Rishi Vyasa turned himself into a beautiful young lady and stood under a tree with the power of austerity. Suddenly, heavy rainfall started, and sage Jaimini noticed the young lady was shivering from cold. He went to her and said he could help her by offering shelter. The lady responded that a Brahmin should never interact with a woman. In his response, the sage said she does not have to worry as he is an absolute celibate Brahmin. Hearing his words, the lady went to Rishi’s hermitage.

The young lady slept inside the hermitage, whereas the sage slept outside. At night, the feeling of lust started to rise into sage. So, the sage knocked on the door and said he could not sleep outside because of the cold. He then slept near her. The sexual desire kept increasing to the point the sage could not control it. Finally, he stood and started embracing the young lady.

Suddenly, the young lady turned into Veda Vyasa and said, “What happened to the strength of your Brahmacharya now, O Dear Jaimini?” Sage Jaimini, filled with guilt, lowered his head down and apologized for his shameful act.

Major Works

Purva-Mimamsa Sutras

It is the oldest of six Darshanas of Hindu philosophy and is one of the greatest works of sage Jaimini. The sutra consists of twelve chapters which are further divided into sixty sections. The central theme of these sutras was to provide guidelines for Veda’s elucidation. Furthermore, it provides a detailed philosophical explanation behind Vedic rituals to gain liberation.

The first chapter discusses words with numerous meanings, such as Vidhi (instruction or direction), Arthavada (Semantics), Mantras, and Smriti.

The second chapter discusses the dissimilarities of several rituals and disproving of false evidence.

The third chapter speaks about shruti (anything that is heard and passed down through spoken words), vakya, linga, sacrificial duties, and anarabhyadhita.

The fourth chapter talks about the impact of the primary and supporting rituals on other rituals.

The fifth chapter describes the corresponding order of several passages of the Sruti and various aspects of sacrifices.

The sixth chapter explains the different types of sacrifices, a person eligible for performing such rituals, materials for specific sacrifices, and the construction of fire for various sacrifices.

The seventh and eighth chapter discusses the transference of rites and virtue from one sacrifice to another.

The ninth chapter highlights the alteration of hymns, mantras, and tunes.

The tenth chapter explores the failure of the primary and supporting rituals and offerings for the planets.

The eleventh chapter is about tantras and avapas.

Lastly, the final chapter is about context, tantras, and the collection of coinciding rituals.

Jaimini Bharata

Jaimini Rishi heard Mahabharata from sage Vyasa himself. So, sage Jaimini wrote another version of the epic Mahabharata, taking references from the original one. However, only the “Ashvamedhika Parva,” one of the works of Maharishi, is available currently.

Jaimini Sutras

It is also known as Upadesa Sutras, a prophesied part of Vedic astrology. It consists of 936 sutras or concise expressions, divided into four chapters.

In the first chapter, the sutras talk about Arudha, Karakamsa, Upapada, and Navamsa.

The second chapter talks about long life, illness, occupation, offspring, and life partners.

The third chapter is about durability, mother nature, and various causes of death.

 Finally, the fourth chapter speaks of the very astrological time of conception.

Some other works include Jaiminiya Brahmana and Jaiminiya Upanishad.