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In Indian religions moksha (Sanskrit: मोक्ष mokṣa) or mukti (Sanskrit: मुक्ति) is liberation or release. In eschatological sense, moksha is liberation from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth. In Eastern religions, psychology and human development literature, moksha is liberation from ignorance to a state of enlightenment and self-realization.
Moksha is the liberation from rebirth or samsara. This liberation can be attained while one is on earth (jivanmukti), or eschatologically (karmamukti). The idea of samsara originated with new religious movements in the first millennium BCE.[web 1] These new movements saw human life as bondage to a repeated process of rebirth. By release from this cycle, the suffering involved in this cycle is also ended.
Some Indian traditions have emphasized liberation on concrete, ethical action within the world. For example, in some forms of Buddhism and in monistic schools of Hinduism, this liberation is an epistemological transformation that permits one to see the truth and reality behind the fog of ignorance.[web 1]
Moksha is attained by realization of our true identity. Different philosophies or sects of Hinduism sometimes use different phrases for moksha. Keval jnana or kaivalya ("state of Absolute") are used by the Samkhya and Yoga. Cittavrtti-nirodha was also used by Yoga. Apavarga has been used by Nyaya. Nihsreyasa ("cessation of suffering) has been used by Mimamsa, Nyaya and Vaisesika. Paramapada ("supreme state") has been used by Vaishnavism. Because Hinduism recognizes that moksha means a union (sayujya) with Brahman, the state of moksha is also known as Brahmabhava, Brahmajnana and Brahmastithi.
There are four forms of yoga, which can be used to realize supreme reality:
There are three main approaches in Vedanta:
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.
According to the Advaita-tradition moksha is achieved by removing avidya (ignorance) regarding our misidentification with the five koshas and maya, and comes to an understanding that the observable world is unreal and impermanent, and that atman or consciousness is the only true existence. Moksha is seen as a final release from illusion, and the knowledge (anubhava) of one's own fundamental nature, which is Satcitananda.[note 1]
Advaita focuses on the knowledge of Brahman provided by traditional Vedanta literature and the teachings of its founder, Adi Shankara. 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.
In Dvaita (dualism) 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.
Dvaita explains that every soul encounters liberation differently, and each soul requires a different level of satisfaction to reach moska.
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.
Ramanuja's Vishistadvaita (qualified monism) states that Brahman makes up every being, and to find liberation one must give up his will to the Lord. Here too moksha is defined as the loving, eternal union with God (Vishnu)
In Buddhism the concept of liberation is Nirvana. It is referred to as "the highest happiness" and is the goal of the Theravada-Buddhist path, while in the Mahayana it is seen as a secondary effect of becoming a fully enlightened Buddha (Samyaksambuddha).
In Jainism, moksa and nirvana are one and the same. When a soul (atman) achieves moksa, it is released from the cycle of births and deaths, and achieves its pure self. It then becomes a siddha (literally means one who has accomplished his ultimate objective). Attaining Moksa requires annihilation of all karmas, good and bad, because if karma is left, it must bear fruit.
The Sikh concept of mukti (moksha) is essentially that of jivan mukti, the one attainable in one’s lifetime itself. Sikhism rejects the idea of considering renunciation as the vesture of a jivan mukta. Contrast with it, for example, the Jain view according to which “The liberated persons… have to lead a mendicant’s life, for, otherwise, they cannot keep themselves free from karma” (G. N. Joshi: Atman and Mokhsa. Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, 1965, p. 260).
Jivan mukti itself brings one to the brink of videha mukti (incorporeal emancipation) which is freedom not from the present body, but from any corporeal state hereafter. It spells for the mukta a final cessation of the weals and woes of the cycle of birth-death-birth (janam-maran). This ultimate mukti is a continuation of jivan mukti, going on after the shedding away of the corporeal frame to the final absorption into the One Absolute—the blending of light with Light (joti jot samana).
The Sikh mukti is positive concept in two important ways. First it stands for the realization of the ultimate Reality, a real enlightenment (jnana). The mukta is not just free from this or that, he is the master of sense and self, fearless (nirbhai) and devoid of rancor (nirvair), upright yet humble, treating all creatures as if they were he himself, wanting nothing, clinging to nothing.
In Sikhism, one rises from the life of do’s and don'ts to that of perfection — a state of "at-one-ment" with the All-self. Secondly, the mukta is not just a friend for all, he even strives for their freedom as well. He no longer lives for himself, he lives for others.