The Path to Moksha

The Path to Moksha
 

Moksha is one of the most important concepts in Hinduism. Also called Mukti, vimoksha, and vimukti, it is based on the belief in dukkha and samsara and refers to the freedom from these two notions.

Before one can comprehend moksha, one first needs to understand what both dukkha and samsara are. To put it simply and succinctly, within the Hindu faith, dukkha is related to suffering, sorrow, or distress that one unavoidably experiences in life. This suffering can be in the form of injury, disease, and ageing, among others. Dukkha or suffering in life cannot be avoided but can be overcome through personal understanding and enlightenment. On the other hand, samsara refers to the belief in reincarnation. It pertains to the cyclical nature of life, where one experiences birth, death, and rebirth. For Hindus, this is a very important concept and one that is related to the idea of karma.

 

From Death To Birth (Understanding Karma and Reincarnation)

Hindus believe that the soul passes from one life to the next through the process of reincarnation, where the next incarnation or form that a soul takes on is based on one’s own actions or inactions, and the deeds that one accomplishes throughout his or her life. This, as many know, is commonly understood and referred to as karma. This concept underscores the belief that one is directly responsible for the good or bad karma that he or she attains in life and the consequences of these that will affect one’s future life and the quality of his or her existence. Moksha is then believed to be the end of this continuous cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, which thereupon leads to the absence of any further suffering that one would have ultimately experienced throughout this life cycle.

Wheel of Life

Moksha comes from the Sanskrit word muc, which means to be free, to let go, to liberate, or to release. It is a truly vital concept in the Hindu faith. In fact, it is considered as one of the four main goals or arthas of human life. The other three arthas are dharma, which means living a moral and virtuous life, artha, which refers to one’s means in life or material security, and kama, which relates to emotional fulfillment. These four notions are collectively referred to as Purusartha. Among the four arthas, moksha is said to be the very transcendence and the most paramount of them all.

 

Trivarga Siddhanta (Dharma, Artha and Kama)

The concept of Moksha does not solely mean the end of the cycle of samsara but it means one’s actual liberation and emancipation from it. Moksha is not only believed by Hindus but it is a concept of freedom and liberation that also exists within Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and other religious faiths. In Buddhism, it is often closely associated with the concept of nirvana. However, many highlight the fact that there are distinct differences between moksha and nirvana.

Different schools of Hinduism have varying beliefs on whether one can achieve moksha during one’s current life or only after it. The Samskya and Yoga schools of Hinduism are among those which assert that moksha can be achieved during the current life. On the other hand, the Nyaya, Vaisesika, and Mimamsa schools, among others, contradict this and argue that moksha is only possible after death. Apart from varying views on when one can achieve moksha, there are also varying philosophies on how it can actually be achieved.

 

मोक्ष मार्ग - Moksha Marg

Some Hindus believe that moksha can be achieved through natural self-discipline. This type of discipline is said to be so natural and perfect that it is already sub-conscious and is akin to the practice of dharma. Therefore, the dharma itself, the act of living a virtuous path, and ethical actions are the means to attaining moksha. Other schools of Hinduism give emphasis on love and veneration of God as the means to moksha. It is also claimed that moksha is the existence of the state of paripurna-brahmanubhava, where one experiences complete harmony and unity with Brahma.

 

Moksha in Visishtadvaita Philosophy

Whether or not moksha can actually be attained in the present life or only after death, and whichever precise path one follows in order to reach it, there is little debate on the belief that moksha refers to the end of samsara, the spirit’s liberation from it, and the state of perfection. It is described as a blissful state where there can no longer be any change and certainly no further reincarnations. It is the ultimate goal of all Hindus to gain knowledge of one’s true self, attain personal enlightenment, and consequently, achieve moksha.

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