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Moksha in Hinduism


In Indian religions moksha ("to let loose, let go") is the final extrication of the soul or consciousness (purusha) from samsara and the bringing to an end of all the suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and rebirth (reincarnation).

Moksha (Freedom or Salvation) from the cycle of birth and death is the ultimate goal of Hindu religious life. Moksha is called Mukti (freedom) by yogis and Nirvana by Buddhists

The individual soul (atman), in its liberated state, possesses divine qualities such as purity, omnipresence and omnipotence, and is beyond limitations. Within the individual, however, the atman is involved in the working of samsara (the cycle of birth and death in the phenomenal world), thereby subjecting itself to bondage by Law of Karma. Moksha is attainted when the individual becomes liberated from the cycle of birth and death and attains eventual union with the Supreme Being.

This union can be achieved through true knowledge (gyana or jnana), devotion (bhakti), or right work (karma). Purity, self-control, truthfulness, non-violence, and compassion toward all forms of life are the necessary pre-requisites for any spiritual path in Hindu dharma. The Hindu dharma emphasizes the importance of a true guru (spiritual master) for the attainment of true knowledge of the soul and God.


How to Attain Moksha

In Hindu religion, self realization is considered to be the best means to achieve Moksha. The Hindu Dharma preaches the path of Karma and Bhakti. Well, there can be different ways of achieving salvation. In totality, there are four paths of attaining liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth, namely, selfless work, self dissolving love, deep meditation and total discernment.

Moksha in Different Religions

In the Hindu religion, Moksha is associated with the concept of self realization, in which an individual understands the purpose why he is being sent on earth. When a person realizes the power of God and understands his ultimate goal, he strives hard to reach his final destination, i.e. Moksha or salvation. Among Hindus, Moksha is viewed as the unification of man and God.


Hindus generally accept the doctrine of transmigration and rebirth and the complementary belief in karma. The whole process of rebirth, called samsara, is cyclic, with no clear beginning or end, and encompasses lives of perpetual, serial attachments. Actions generated by desire and appetite bind one’s spirit (jiva) to an endless series of births and deaths. Desire motivates any social interaction (particularly when involving sex or food), resulting in the mutual exchange of good and bad karma. In one prevalent view, the very meaning of salvation is emancipation (moksha) from this morass, an escape from the impermanence that is an inherent feature of mundane existence. In this view the only goal is the one permanent and eternal principle: the One, God, brahman, which is totally opposite to phenomenal existence. People who have not fully realized that their being is identical with brahman are thus seen as deluded. Fortunately, the very structure of human experience teaches the ultimate identity between brahman and atman. One may learn this lesson by different means: by realizing one’s essential sameness with all living beings, by responding in love to a personal expression of the divine, or by coming to appreciate that the competing attentions and moods of one’s waking consciousness are grounded in a transcendental unity—one has a taste of this unity in the daily experience of deep, dreamless sleep.


Hindus acknowledge the validity of several paths (margas) toward such release. The Bhagavadgita (“Song of the Lord”; c. 100 ce), an extremely influential Hindu text, presents three paths to salvation: the karma-marga (“path of ritual action” or “path of duties”), the disinterested discharge of ritual and social obligations; the jnana-marga (“path of knowledge”), the use of meditative concentration preceded by long and systematic ethical and contemplative training (Yoga) to gain a supraintellectual insight into one’s identity with brahman; and the bhakti-marga (“path of devotion”), love for a personal God. These ways are regarded as suited to various types of people, but they are interactive and potentially available to all.

Although the pursuit of moksha is institutionalized in Hindu life through ascetic practice and the ideal of withdrawing from the world at the conclusion of one’s life, many Hindus ignore such practices. The Bhagavadgita states that because action is inescapable, the three paths are better thought of as simultaneously achieving the goals of world maintenance (dharma) and world release (moksha). Through the suspension of desire and ambition and through detachment from the fruits (phala) of one’s actions, one is enabled to float free of life while engaging it fully. This matches the actual goals of most Hindus, which include executing properly one’s social and ritual duties; supporting one’s caste, family, and profession; and working to achieve a broader stability in the cosmos, nature, and society. The designation of Hinduism as sanatana dharma emphasizes this goal of maintaining personal and universal equilibrium, while at the same time calling attention to the important role played by the performance of traditional religious practices in achieving that goal. Because no one person can occupy all the social, occupational, and age-defined roles that are requisite to maintaining the health of the life-organism as a whole, universal maxims (e.g., ahimsa, the desire not to harm) are qualified by the more-particular dharmas that are appropriate to each of the four major varnas: Brahmans (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors and nobles), Vaishyas (commoners), and Shudras (servants). These four categories are superseded by the more practically applicable dharmas appropriate to each of the thousands of particular castes (jatis). And these, in turn, are crosscut by the obligations appropriate to one’s gender and stage of life (ashrama). In principle then, Hindu ethics is exquisitely context-sensitive, and Hindus expect and celebrate a wide variety of individual behaviours.



There are three major views on moksha from traditional Vedanta philosophy.


According to Advaita Vedanta, the attainment of liberation coincides with the realization of the unreality of 'personal self in the psyche' [ego] and the simultaneous revelation of the 'Impersonal Self' as the ever-existent Truth Brahman, the source of all spiritual and phenomenal existence. The Neti Neti ("not this alone, not that alone") method of teaching is adopted. Between sentient Awareness and insentient matter is an illusion formed in the mind. Moksha is seen as a final release from this illusion when one's worldly conception of self is erased and there takes place a loosening of the shackle of experiential duality, accompanied by the realization of one's own fundamental nature: sat (true being), cit (pure consciousness), and ananda, an experience which is ineffable and beyond sensation (see satcitananda). Advaita holds that Atman, Brahman, and Paramatman are all one and the same - the formless Nirguna Brahman which is beyond the being/non-being distinction, tangibility, and comprehension.


In Dvaita (dualism) and Vishistadvaita (qualified monism) schools of Vaishnava traditions, moksha is defined as the loving, eternal union with God (Vishnu) and considered the highest perfection of existence. The bhakta (devotee) attains the abode of the Supreme Lord in a perfected state but maintains his or her individual identity, with a spiritual form, personality, tastes, pastimes, and so on.

Achieving moksha

In Hinduism, atma-jnana (self-realization) is the key to obtaining moksha. The Hindu is one who practices one or more forms of Yoga - Bhakti, Karma, Jnana, Raja - knowing that god is unlimited and exists in many different forms, both personal and impersonal.
There are believed to be four Yogas (disciplines) or margas (paths) for the attainment of moksha. These are: working for the Supreme (Karma Yoga), realizing the Supreme (Jnana Yoga), meditating on the Supreme (Raja Yoga) and serving the Supreme in loving devotion (Bhakti Yoga). In Hinduism, there exist three types of Vedanta schools, Sankara’s Advaita, Ramanuja’s Visistadvaita, and Madhva’s Dvaita. Each contain their own view on the concept of moksa, or liberation, that is consistent with their philosophies; however, all three schools remain loyal to the overall understanding and worship of Brahman, and claim to hold the truths in reference to the Upanishads. Advaita holds the belief that moksa is not achieved until ignorance is removed from our human tendencies through deep meditation, while Ramanuja states that Brahman makes up every being, and to find liberation one must give up his will to the Lord. Lastly, Dvaita explains that every soul encounters liberation differently, and each soul requires a different level of satisfaction to reach moska.
Vedanta approaches are split between strict non-duality (advaita), non-duality with qualifications (such as vishishtadvaita), and duality (dvaita). The central means to moksha advocated in these three branches vary.

  1. Advaita Vedanta emphasizes Jnana Yoga as the ultimate means of achieving moksha, and other yogas (such as Bhakti Yoga) are means to the knowledge, by which moksha is achieved. It focuses on the knowledge of Brahman provided by traditional vedanta literature and the teachings of its founder, Adi Shankara . Though Advaita philosophy existed from the period of the Vedanta and the Upanishads, and was advocated by many saints like Sukha, Sanaka, Goudapada and Govinda Bhagvatpada, Adi Shankara is its most famous and profound presenter.. Hence, he is cited many times as founder of Advaitha.Through discernment of the real and the unreal, the sadhak (practitioner) would unravel the maya and come to an understanding that the observable world is unreal and impermanent, and that consciousness is the only true existence. This intellectual understanding was moksha, this was atman and Brahman realized as the substance and void of existential duality. The impersonalist schools of Hinduism also worship various deities, but only as a means of coming to this understanding - both the worshiped and worshiper lose their individual identities.
  2. Dualist schools (e.g. Gaudiya Vaishnava ) see God as the most worshippable object of love, for example, a personified monotheistic conception of Shiva or Vishnu . Unlike Abrahamic traditions, Dvaita/Hinduism does not prevent worship of other aspects of God, as they are all seen as rays from a single source. The concept is essentially of devotional service in love, since the ideal nature of being is seen as that of harmony, euphony , its manifest essence being love. By immersing oneself in the love of God, one's karmas (good or bad, regardless) slough off, one's illusions about beings decay and 'truth' is soon known and lived. Both the worshiped and worshiper gradually lose their illusory sense of separation and only One beyond all names remains.

One must achieve moksha on his or her own under the guidance of a Guru. A guru or a siddha inspires but does not intervene.


Paradise ( svarga ) is believed to be a place of temporal attractions to be avoided by the seeker to pursue the ultimate goal of union / yoking with God through Yoga. In fact, even acquiring intermediate spiritual powers ( siddhis ) is to be avoided as they can turn out to be stumbling blocks in the path towards ultimate liberation, mukti . The Bhagavad Gita says that it is impossible to get out of Moksha once achieved. The Blessed Lord states:

"Because you trust me, Arjuna, I will tell you what wisdom is, the secret of life: Know it and be free of suffering forever."-Bhagavad Gita, chapter 9, verse 1

In the Vendanthavarthikam , attaining Moksha means to become Brahma, and this is achieved by the Raja Yogi through gaining Gyanam. Gyanam is gained by the practice of Kumbhakam and Nivrikalpa Samadhi.The same text also reads that a person can enjoy the Sarshintwa (state of Brahma) without obtaining Moksha, although this state is inferior to Moksha as Sarshintwa does not result in freedom from rebirths. Gyanam is categorized as of 2 types; Pravruthi and Nivruthi where the gyanam experienced in the material world is the former while gyanam experienced in the spiritual world is the latter.


Shastra (scripture)

Vyasa is said to have compiled the most important Vedic texts some 5000 years ago.

Hindu scripture is sometimes called shastra . Since the Vedic wisdom was first transmitted orally it is also called shabda­brahman , spiritual sound. According to tradition, it was written down only when human memory began to deteriorate at the start of Kali-yuga (some 5,000 years ago).

Shabda-brahman is considered the most reliable form of authority for spiritual and related matters. However, Hinduism is not simply an authoritarian system of belief, and tends to synthesise religious commitment with open philosophical inquiry. It acknowledges the need for exploration and realisation of knowledge. Without appropriate conduct and values, informational and experiential knowledge will be inevitably misconstrued.

Many Hindu schools claim orthodoxy based on their adherence to shastra . Thus it remains a powerful source of authority and cohesion for the tradition


The guru plays a central role in Hinduism, often acting as the intermediary between the soul and the Supreme. Many schools claim that God-realisation without spiritual mentorship is impossible, for one will inevitably be waylaid by maya (illusion). The guru is required in order to properly understand scripture. Many schools also claim that the blessings of God come through the genuine spiritual teacher, and that the teacher speaks and acts on behalf of God. The guru may also accept veneration on behalf of the Lord. Many Hindus accept diksha , initiation from a spiritual teacher, thus becoming a formal disciple. The principle of disciplic succession ( sampradaya ) is central to the transmission of spiritual knowledge.

Some traditions, such as the advaita schools equate guru with God. Others, such as most bhakti schools, insist that the spiritual teacher is God's representative and can never become God himself.


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