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Moksha ( Sanskrit मोक्ष mokṣa m.) Or Mukti means redemption or liberation in Hinduism , breaking out of the cycle of rebirths ( samsara ). Moksha is generally the last of the four goals in life ( purushartha ). The others are wealth ( artha ), religion, law or order ( dharma ), lust or passion ( kama ). As a final goal in life, moksha also goes beyond ordinary religion .

This religious idea of ​​the highest salvation goal is common to the Indian religions of Hinduism, Buddhism , Jainism and Sikhism . Related or synonymous terms are Nirvana in Buddhism and Kaivalya .


Moksha includes liberation from the chain of birth, death and rebirth ( samsara ) and represents the ultimate goal of human life. In Hinduism there is also an idea of ​​'heaven', which a person with good karma can reach after the death of the body but this is only temporary. The myths also describe different 'hells' for malefactors, but Hindus do not assume that even the most serious wrongdoing could have eternal effects. The individual inevitably comes back to earth and the cycle from birth to birth continues until final salvation.

This cycle ( samsara ) or the relative existence in the material world is mostly assessed as negative, as a kind of prison, illusion, as something to which one is chained. Moksha denotes the liberation from this bond. Hinduism means the liberation of the soul and just as in Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism a liberation from the I-thought or ego, according to which one should experience a dualism of individuality and non-individuality ("I am while I am not at the same time" ). Enlightenment is also always associated with knowledge related to the nature of that bond. In the Hindu Advaita Vedanta philosophy it is the knowledge that the world is an illusion, that one's own ego is also an illusion and, according to its nature, identical to the formless divine, the brahman . In the Upanishads , however, the soul is described as individual, since it exists as part of the Paramatman , the absolute Oversoul. The liberation from the ego-thought is only the liberation from the illusion about the true absolute self caused by the material energy ( maya ).

One problem with the term moksha is that by its nature it is a phenomenon beyond the human mind, that is, it is precisely defined by the fact that it goes beyond it. Therefore, descriptions of enlightenment are often paradoxical and, like the concept of God, are beyond rational explanations. Much of the Hindu writings on moksha deal with the negation or dissolution of mental religious concepts or ideas ( Ribhu Gita , Ashtavakra Gita , Avadhuta Gita ).

Many traditions describe enlightenment as a state of detachment; H. freed from 'me' and attachment to the world. This state is also known as sack ski (witness consciousness ). For some, however, this state of witnessing is just the beginning, as it is still a state of duality. In the end, however, there is the complete unity of the world in brahman , the highest, formless being. The Buddhist phrase from the Mahayana "Nirvana is samsara" could point in the same direction. Naturally, such an approach leads to a less negative assessment of the world, since it is seen as one and identical to Brahman or Nirvana.

For the Advaita-Vedanta followers, moksha can only be attained during human life, not after death. It is said that for this ultimate goal even the devas , the heavenly ones, must first be born human, since salvation can only be achieved in human life. Your existence in the 'heavenly' state is not infinite. The person who experiences complete salvation during life is called Jivan Mukta ( Jivan = soul, Mukti = liberation).

Others, however, especially believers in dualistic bhakti traditions, assume that one can experience moksha only after death by God's grace . This final enlightenment after death is known as Videha Mukti .

When temporary enlightenment experiences are meant, samadhi is usually used . Sahaja Samadhi , the natural Samadhi, is identical to Jivan Mukti .

Different ways to salvation

The traditions of Hinduism recommend three, sometimes four, different ways of attaining moksha : the way of love of God ( bhaktiyoga ), the way of knowing ( jnanayoga ), and the way of selfless deed ( karmayoga ). The doctrine of Bhaktiyoga to the some popular trends of Vishnu as the Shaivism are propagated that human beings need the grace of God, in order to gain salvation. While some argue that this grace is achieved through loving devotion ( bhakti ), others assume that God's grace is obtained without one's own intervention.

Especially in the directions of Vaishnava Bhakti Yoga , the path of many followers of Vishnu , salvation is not about the unity and identity of the individual with Brahman , but about participation and communion with God, similar to the ideas of salvation in Christianity. Here Moksha is understood as liberation from material existence after death and freedom from all mental bonds, not as the dissolution of any duality. For them, bhakti , love for God and God's love for man, is the only requirement.

The path of Jnana Yoga is based on salvation through the pursuit of true knowledge and understanding. According to the advocates of this path, the inexorable law of karma applies , according to which man is solely responsible for his own salvation. This corresponds to the view of classical Brahmanism and the philosophy of the Upanishads . The Advaita Vedanta describes in the Mahavakyas the soul ( Atman ) as identical with Brahman , the formless Supreme and absolute consciousness - Ayam Atma Brahma . The realization of this identity leads to the dissolution of the false I-thought ( Ahamkara ), which overlays the Atman. Moksha here means the knowledge of the unity of the individual with the highest divine, Brahman .

Karma yoga or karma yoga, the yoga of action, requires action without attachment to the results. Often this term is also understood as a way of selfless service.

Some schools, such as Vivekananda , include Raja Yoga as the fourth path to salvation , which also includes meditation and asceticism .

The Indian Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (BKWSU) sees Moksha or Jīvan Mukti as a central concept of its theology . Jīvan Mukti means: liberation in life. This means a life with God , so that the practitioner is free from external and internal influences after long practice. He leads a positive, value-oriented life, facing others. However, it is first determined by the emotional closeness and loving relationship with God. For the religious-spiritual group, one is a white point of light with an oval, gold-red light aura .

The member experiences Moksha or Jīvan Mukti when he dedicates himself to the spiritual Raja Yoga of the Brahma Kumaris with the aim of mastering his life. The world of redemption, d. H. without suffering and body, for the Brahma Kumaris there is an otherworldly world of light , called by them the highest place ( Paramdham ), a dimension of light without sound. The goal of all meditative endeavors is not ultimate salvation as in Buddhism.

In Buddhism, the common name for salvation is nirvana . Both moksha and nirvana are used in Jainism ; their uses are interchangeable.

See also


  • Ramesh Balsekar: Duet of Unity. The Ashtavakra-Gita dialogue. Context, Bielefeld 1991, ISBN 3-926257-08-3 .
  • Wolfgang Schellhorn (translation and editing): Avadhuta Gita. Song of an enlightened one. Lüchow, Freiburg im Breisgau 2001, ISBN 3-925898-75-1 .
  • H. Ramamoorthy, Nome (Translation): The Song of Ribhu. The English translation of the Tamil Ribhu gita. Society of Abidance in Truth, Santa Cruz 2000, ISBN 978-0-9703667-0-2 .

Web links

Wikisource: Ashtavakra Gita  - Sources and full texts (English)