What is Moksha and the Path to Attain It?
Moksha can be translated to the word ‘salvation’ in English. The majority of Hindus are firm believers in the concept of Karma. According to this concept, the four main objectives of life are dharma (duty), artha (wealth), kama (desire), and moksha (salvation). All four of these have the same level of importance, but moksha is said to be the sole purpose of human existence.
The Hindu doctrine states that one can be independent of the endless circle of birth and death by attaining eternal moksha. That is why it is deemed necessary for every human being to do everything in their power to achieve moksha. Pure intentions and pure thoughts will
assist one to walk the righteous path to achieve moksha. In this blog, we will delve deeper into the principle of moksha and how one can attain it.
The principles of moksha have been predominantly derived from the principles of karma and pertaining theories of the human soul. To understand the meaning of moksha, one should have an understanding of the theory of a human soul. The idea of a soul is prevalent in all other religions too, but the core concept differs from culture to culture.
According to Christianity and Judaism, human beings are the only living beings that are blessed with an eternal soul, other creatures and animals simply are not. Hinduism however, states that all living things in the world have a soul. From the largest animal to the smallest insect, a soul is what makes everything alive.
Further, Hindus believe that the human soul can transmigrate; this means that the soul can travel from one physical existence to another. The Hindu texts state that a soul can neither be killed nor created, it just simply migrates from one being to another.
The concept of moksha is closely intertwined with the theory of transmigration. In several cultures around the world, it is believed that the soul can move from one realm of existence to another. The spirits of our ancestors have been believed to reincarnate as kids or even animals.
The status of a human soul and the circumstances of rebirth are based on the soul’s past karma. If good accumulated karma exceeds bad karma, the soul will finally be alleviated from the endless cycle of life and death. Such liberation of the soul from the eternal cycle of rebirths is known as Moksha.
Different Levels of Moksha
The main school of thought bifurcates moksha in 2 distinct stages: Jivanmukti and Vidhemukti. According to Vedanta texts, a person in Jivanmukti has gained a higher understanding of his own being and the realm surrounding him. Thus, a jivanmukta can also be referred to as Atma Jnani – one who is aware of his own self, and Brahma Jnani – one who has understood the meaning of the universe. Towards the end, in the twilight period of their existence, Jivanmuktas achieve paramukti, also known as final liberation.
As the Jivanmukta propagates the teachings of the universe and self to other people, he is referred to as an Avadhuta. Some Avadhuta can achieve the feat of superior enlightenment and are called Paramhamsa. Subsequently, this Jivanmukti differs from the theory of Vidhemukti. Videhamukti is experienced only after death, i.e. the soul experiences infinite bliss, power, and knowledge after death while Jivanmukta experiences the same while being alive and after death as well.
This simply signifies that the soul has been granted freedom from the eternal cycle of life and rebirth by attaining moksha. Both the yoga and Vedantic schools of thought in Hinduism study the concept of moksha via the stages of jivanmukti and vidhemukti.
How to Attain Moksha?
One must understand that to attain moksha, the individual has to let go of everything that ties them down to the material earthly realm. The individual has to separate himself from the human feelings of fear, anger, frustration, etc. This sets the path to achieve salvation from the constant process of taking births and rebirths.
The Vedantic school of thought states that a person can achieve moksha in the current life without having to leave the world. This can be done by detaching themselves from the negativities that surround them and achieving complete knowledge about the human soul and the realm of existence.
Meanwhile, liberation can also be achieved after the human body has passed on. This is referred to as Vidhamukti, or salvation after death. The soul can be finally free of the human shackles of suffering and attain eternal joy, bliss, and power. A jivanmukta person has the privilege of experiencing moksha both during their life and after they have ascended.
What’s next after attaining moksha?
Attaining moksha means that the person has to alleviate himself of all material things in life in a bid to achieve a higher understanding. After you have attained moksha, you will sense a feeling of oneness with a higher power and will be able to elevate yourself from the process of life and rebirth. The human being will be devoid of any sense of ego and will understand the meaning of the divine understanding.
Hinduism states that the cycle of births & rebirths is the main source of pain and suffering. The situations and lessons that you face in your current life are a result of the deeds and actions of your previous life. This is why it is imperative to carry out good deeds and live life by the guidelines of dharma. This way, you can ensure that the next existence is without any bad karma.
The aim of every human life should be to attain moksha so that they can alleviate themselves from the eternal cycle of birth and rebirth. Once you have broken the chain of constant rebirths, you can gain the ultimate understanding of yourself and enjoy divine bliss. Once moksha has been attained, the soul discards the human existence and proceeds to the Moksha Loka, which is Lord Vishnu’s realm. Ancient Hindu texts define Moksha Loka as the place beyond life and death.
Once any soul attains moksha and enters the Moksha Loka, it does not return to the human realm. Further, it is very difficult for anyone connected to the human realm to travel to the Moksha realm. One can only enter the Moksha Loka by attaining freedom of the human soul and leaving the physical form behind.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, moksha is permanent, once a human being attains Moksha and enters the final realm, it cannot be undone.
According to ancient Hindu texts, while Mukti can be achieved by anyone, moksha is dependent on the person’s karma. If the Person’s good karma outweighs the bad karma during their lifetime, then they have more of a chance of attaining moksha.
No, animals cannot attain moksha. Moksha is a state of higher existence for the soul that can only be achieved by human beings.