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Moksa


Moska, Sanskrit of moksha, in Hinduism it is the liberation from the stream-current of life, the chains of karma. (Moksha can also be referred to as mukti.) Moksa is a positive state of completeness, not a negative one, of fullness of being, free from samsara, the bondage of karma, and thus from the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Moksa is very foreign to the Aryan concepts, and the supposition is the non-Vedic and pre-Aryan Indian cultures must have contributed to Hinduism the ideas on renunciation and asceticism that led to moksa and nirvana, or the Buddhist nibbana. Moksa is obtain through three ways or paths: that of knowledge (jnana), devotion (bhakti), and ritual works (karma). While some may attain moksa at death, the real goal is to achieve it well in advance, as certain yogis and gurus do: A guru in the fullest sense of the word should be jivan-mukta, that is, one who has attained liberation before death. Thus moksa is the highest aim of human existence.

There is, as some imply, a criticism of moksa, as defined, moksa is the soteriolgical, salvation, goal of Hinduism, but in this sense moksa is paradoxical because to achieve moksa all desires or goals are abandoned, which is impossible if moksa is declared to be the highest aim of human existence. Therefore, moksa is another form of asceticism, any system of self-denial chosen by a religious individual, group, order, or sect, and often a distinguishing characteristic. A.G.H.


Sources:

Rice, Edward, Eastern Definitions: A Short Encyclopedia of Religions of the Orient, Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1978, p. 255
Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 650