Moksha: Backbone of Santana Dharma
Moksha is the central concept among the various traditions of Sanatana Dharma. In fact, it is this concept that drives Santana Dharma.
Moksha can be considered as the bone marrow of the Vedic System. If the concept of Moksha were not to be not present, the purpose of Sanatana Dharma shall have ceased to operate. In other words, Truth finds its meaning in Moksha and together they form the foundations of Sanatana Dharma.
Prior to Moksha the ultimate goal of Human life, there are 3 fundamental goals, without which it is not possible to traverse the material ocean of desires and wants. So, Sanatana Dharma begins with the most fundamental goal and makes up its way to the most advanced goal, ever possible.
4 fundamental goals or aims of Human life
1) Dharma (धर्म): righteous religiosity,
2) Artha (अर्थ) Prosperity born out of Dharma,
3) Kama (काम) Wish fulfillment that follows prosperity.
But, it is
4) Liberation or Moksha (मोक्ष), alone that is the Ultimate goal of the Dharma. It means breaking the shackles of Maya, material existence and going beyond wants and desires.
When a person starts his pursuit towards completing these 3 fundamental goals of Dharma, Artha and Kama, Moksha then remains to be attained. Moksha shall end the seemingly unending cycles of birth, growth, maturity, suffering, decay and death.
It is verily the result of Self-Realization or that which follows when ignorance or Avidya (अविद्या) ceases to exist.
Religions and Moksha
The concept of Moksha also exists as a primary concept in the offshoot fall-outs of the Sanatana Vedic System, namely Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.
The definition and meaning of Moksha varies among various schools of Indian thought.
Synonyms of Moksha
Sikhism calls it Mukti, Buddhists call it Nirvana, Jainism calls it Moksha as well as Nirvana. Other religions like Christianity call Moksha – Salvation. But, inspite of these varied terms, they speak of one single reality.
Let’s see one common definition of Mukti or Moksha in Sanatana Dharma as well as in other paths of spirituality.
According to some people Liberation or Moksha means Mukti. It which simply means freedom and this state can be attained when alive.
But, after deeply studying Moksha, we’ll find variety, not in terms of its concept, but in terms of its state of attainment.
3 Broad Types of Moksha
1) Karmamukti (कर्ममुक्ति)
The individual surrenders his actions to the Lord. In turn Bhagawan takes control of “Karma” or Action of the individual. This surrender is an aspect of the Bhakti school and not so much talked about in the Jnana school of Shankara. The greatest advantage in Karma Mukti, is that the devotee is left free from taking the burden of his actions and the results of action. Because of such immense faith in Bhagawan, one is blessed with Vairagya.
Moksha and Vairagya are siblings
Vairagya means detachment. Detachment is the key to end cycle of pain and pleasure. Only when we get attached, happiness and sorrow seem to cycle. But, Karmamukti blesses devotees with Vairagya which gives immense strength to perform all work with total commitment and spirit.
This Karma shall be the doing of the Lord alone, where He uses the limbs of the Sadhaka or Bhakta. The desire of the Sadhaka lies in the desire of the Lord. Hence, to achieve a desired goal the Lord manifests through the actions of His devotees.
In reality, the individual has nothing personal to do with the action or its results owing to inner resignation (Vairagya). This is Mukti at the level of action or Karma.
2) Videhamukti (विदेहमुक्ति)
This is when a devotee is dependent on the Lord but still has some deep rooted Samskaras. Samskaras are previous life impressions. They include negative tendencies that accumulates over the interactions we had with people and also after interacting with our own thoughts in our mind, over the course of many previous births.
The devotee is constantly working on uprooting his/her samskaras. But, there is a possibility that one fails to overcome them, due to which one may not be able to completely purify oneself.
Is Moksha Possible after Death?
However, the Lord looks at the sincerity and commitment of the Sadhaka. Out of Compassion, the person is awarded Liberation at the time of death. He is taken directly to Vaikuntha. This liberation occurs only at the time when the body is cast away. Hence, it gets its name as Videha Mukti (Mukti attained on casting off the body).
3) Jivanmukti (जीवन्मुक्ति)
The highest state of Mukti is when the Sadhaka or devotee is given liberation while still alive. The person works and lives like any other common man. He appears to be just an average individual.
But, unlike common man who is inflicted by stress of the entire planet, locked right in his head, a jivan mukta is relieved of Karma. He has already attained the first type of freedom that is (Karma Mukti), as discussed in point-1.
Over and above that, he has realized the true nature of the world. He recognizes the grace of Bhagawan and His magnanimity. This individual is in constant communion with the Lord. This clearly indicates that He is an open vessel to receive Bhagawan’s Grace. Thus, the Lord reveals that he/she is eligible for Moksha. In Videha Mukti, the devotee is unware of whether or not he will receive Moksha. But, here the devotee receives an indication in advance.
The Lord Paves way for the Soul’s Liberation
The liberation discussed here is with respect to Saguna Bhakti (Bhakti towards the deity incarnations of Sri Vishnu) where a devotee is sold out to his Ishta Deva (favorite deity, deity of his heart). Bhagawan establishes the state of Liberation in the devotee and he realizes this in Toto.
The devotee has no need to share this realization with the world or gain prominence. He never tries to encash Liberation. This elevated state is the state of a jeevan-mukta (a being, liberated while living). A Jeevan Mukta is completely liberated and possess full knowledge about the world and the Lord, while still alive.
Can Moksha be Psychological?
Moksha is not psychological by nature. Instead, relates to the freedom of spirit and intention. When you say “not psychological” by nature, it must be concluded that the mind is never at play. The mind may be used for a certain activity. But, it is always subservient to the will of the Jiva.
For people who are not liberated, the mind is doing its own thing. It is planning, scheming, plotting, etc, to succeed. It is trying to set new standards and readjusts plans to fit into material success of the psychological kind.
When this happens, one is in the grip of the diktats of the psychological apparatus. This is verily bondage. Humans may appear similar in their bodily limbs. But, what is happening on their mental platform, nobody can guess.
To be honest, not even the person who is imagining or thinking, realizes his psychological state. Intelligence and the mental apparatus of thought and memory are on auto-pilot. This is the status of an average individual.
Can a Jeevan-Mukta be Egoistic?
In the case of a jeevan-mukta (according to the Jnana and Bhakti schools) he may appear to work, do business and at times may appear to be selfish. Ordinary people may go to the extent of calling him the worst person to have ever met.
Yet, he is surrendered and only follows the diktats of a superior “Personal” entity (Ishta Devata). He does not follow the standards set by society who is blinded by their self-centric intentions. He verily follows the most authentic system, much bigger than his own self, set by Bhagawan.
This may appear to be a psychological game, because this experience is much higher than what can be written, spoken or elucidated. It is beyond the understanding of a regular man. To be able to stick and read through spiritual topics, itself means that wisdom has dawned.
There is no psychological phenomenon happening either in the mind or intelligence of the jeevan-mukta. He is simply responding to nature in the perfect ways, as guided by his Ishta-Devata. The intelligence and mind of the Bhakta or Sadhaka has been dissolved in his Love for the Ishta Devata. Thus, it is the deity using the resources of the individual and operating on the devotees’ behalf.
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