By Swami Harshananda
Apurva literally means ‘not existing previously'.
The word ‘apurva’ is a technical term employed by the Purva-mīmāmsā system of philosophy which advocates the performance of all the prescribed Vedic rituals as the only means of obtaining the summum-bonum of life.
Vedic sacrifices are said to produce results such as attaining heaven. The doubt that naturally arises is :
- How can an act performed here and now produce a result much later and somewhere else?
- Does it not violate the law of cause and effect?
This objection is answered by the Purvamimārhsā system by formulating the theory of śakti (potential energy). Just as a seed possesses in it the imperceptible power with the help of which it can produce the sprout, so does the soul possess the power to manifest the results of Vedic rituals. These rituals, as soon as completed, generate in the soul that śakti or power. Since this power did not exist previously (a-purva = not existing previously) but is generated as a result of the rites, it is termed as ‘apurva.’ This apurva gets exhausted after producing its results.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore