By Swami Harshananda
Mitākṣarā literally means ‘a work with limited number of letters,’ ‘a small work’.
Mitākṣarā, a Commentary
A person's life, at the personal as well as the social level, has been regulated by the dharmaśāstras for over two millennia. The Yājñavalkyasmrti is a metrical work in about thousand verses. It is one of the earliest and most authoritative works. It has several commentaries out of which the Mitākṣarā of Vijñāneśvara has been considered outstanding. Vijñāneśvara was an expert in Purva-Mimānsā Darśana. He applied it's rules for determining the purpose of the Smṛti of Yājñavalkya wherever there is doubt.
Though the Mitākṣarā is also termed as Rjumitākṣarā and Pramitākṣarā, it is generally brief and clear as the very name indicates. It also goes into great details when needed. The work quotes about 80 smṛtis and writers of dharmaśāstras. An interesting factor noticed is that it almost ignores the purāṇas. Only five purāṇas have been quoted. Earlier authors quoted by it are Viśvarupa, Medhā-tithi and Dhāreśvara.
Commentaries on Mitākṣarā
The Mitākṣarā has several commentaries out of which the following are more noteworthy:
- Subodhini of Viśveśvara-bhaṭṭa
- Pramitākṣarā of Nandapaṇḍita
- Bālambhatti of Bālambhaṭṭa or Bālakṛṣṇa
There is also another Mitākṣarā which is a commentary on the Gautama-dharmasutras by Haradatta.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore