What is Moksha?
In Hinduism, Moksha (Sanskrit: मोक्ष), also called vimoksha, vimukti and mukti, is a term for various forms of emancipation, enlightenment, and spiritual liberation. Moksha is the ultimate goal of Hinduism because it represents freedom from the cycle of birth and death. This cycle, known as samsara, is caused by karma, which is the result of one’s actions in previous lifetimes. When a person accumulates enough good karma, they are able to attain moksha and escape the cycle of rebirth.
How to Achieve Moksha
There are four main ways of Yoga to achieve moksha or liberation from the cycle of rebirth:
- Jnana yoga – the path of knowledge
This path requires great discipline, commitment, and complete mastery of the mind and intellect.
Those who follow this path seek to gain knowledge of the true nature of reality through study and contemplation. They believe that by understanding the true nature of reality, they will be able to break free from the illusions that bind them to samsara.
- Bhakti yoga – the path of devotion
Bhakti yoga is based on the principle of love and devotion to a personal god or guru.
Those who practice Bhakti yoga believe that by devotedly following this path and surrendering themselves to God, they will eventually be liberated from the cycle of rebirth and death. Bhakti yogis often engage in practices such as puja (worship), japa (repetition of a mantra), and seva (selfless service).
- Karma yoga – the path of selfless action
Karma Yoga is based on the principle of karma, which is the law of cause and effect. What we sow, we will ultimately reap. If we perform actions with selfish motives, we will bind ourselves to the consequences of those actions. But if we act selflessly, without any thought of personal gain, we will be freed from the cycle of rebirth and can attain moksha. Karma Yoga is not about doing good deeds for the sake of rewards or recognition. It is about acting with a pure heart without expecting anything in return. When we can let go of our attachment to the outcomes of our actions, we are able to live in the present moment and serve God with every thought, word, and deed.
- Raja yoga – the royal path of meditation
Raja yoga involves directly working with the mind to still its fluctuations and attain a state of inner peace. Raja yoga is also known as “ashtanga yoga” or “eight-limbed yoga,” as it is described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The eight limbs of raja yoga are:
- Yama: universal ethical principles
- Niyama: self-purificati8on and study
- Asana: physical postures
- Pranayama: breath control
- Pratyahara: sense withdrawal
- Dharana: concentration
- Dhyana: meditation
- Samadhi: absorption in the Self/Supreme Being