One of the Four Central Beliefs
There are four central beliefs in Hinduism:
- Dharma (ethics and duties)
- Samsara (rebirth)
- Karma (right action)
- Moksha (liberation from the cycle of Samsara)
What is Moksha? (liberation from the cycle of Samsara)
"Moksha" is the Sanskrit word for "liberation" and Hinduism considers it to be the highest goal of life to which every Hindu aspires. Hindus hold the belief that the soul passes through a cycle of samsara or successive lives and the next rebirth always depends on one's karma or how the previous life was lived.
People build up karma (deeds) in a lifetime, both good and bad and this affects their future existences. Moksha or "mukti" is the concept in which one's soul is freed from the karmic cycle of suffering in samsara. Moksha is the end of the death and rebirth cycle and is the ultimate goal (Artha) in Hindu religion. Until moksha is attained, Hindus believe that they will be repeatedly reincarnated so that they may work towards the concept of self-realization of the truth which is that only Brahma exists and nothing else.
The spiritual aim of moksha is to become one with the Eternal Being. The union of the soul or the "atman" with "Brahma" or the universal soul is referred to as moksha. Hinduism prescribes following four spiritual paths by which self-realization of truth can be attained ultimately leading to moksha or mukti. These are selfless work or "karma yoga", self-dissolving love or "bhakti yoga", absolute discernment or jnana yoga and royal meditative immersion or "raja yoga".
Karma yoga or selfless work is performing one's dharma or following the path of righteousness. In this, one acts for the good of society while in pursuit of spiritual progress. It does not mean renunciation but means staying within the society and adhering to the right actions.
Bhakti yoga or devotion involves devotional worship of a chosen deity amongst the many deities found in Hindu religion. It is thought that Hindu deities are but one manifestation of the universal force of Brahma.
Jnana yoga is the path of wisdom and emphasizes on pursuit of knowledge. It is the concept of having the ability to perceive and understand the true nature of things i.e the soul or "atman" is divine while the body is only temporary. In jnana yoga, self-realization is the way to obtaining moksha.
Raja yoga prescribes having a pure and controlled mind as thus is the way to achieve total control over the rest of the body.
Thus, moksha is the transcendence of all goals or "arthas" and is attained by overcoming ignorance and desire. It is the union of the soul with that all-encompassing universal force called the Brahma.
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