In this lesson, we shall understand the concept of salvation or Mukti or Moksha. Please refer articles on Vedic God, Soul and Worship for fuller understanding.
(Read completely to know why we have image of a brave Maharana Pratap on a spiritual article on Moksha.)
Q: What is Mukti or Moksha?
A: Mukti means Freedom.
Q: What kind of freedom?
A: Mukti means the freedom that all souls desire for. In other words, freedom from sorrow and miseries.
Q: What happens after this freedom?
A: After this freedom, the soul experiences ultimate bliss and lives under inspiration of Ishwar. This is the most satisfying and enjoyable state one can have. Also note that contrary to what many wrongly believe in, Mukti is not state similar to sleep or Sushupti. It is the OPPOSITE of sleep – a state of highest possible level of consciousness.
Q: But Ishwar is already within us. So we are already living under inspiration of Ishwar. Then what is so special about Mukti?
A: If you recall the discussions on Ishwar and soul, we concluded that soul has a freedom of ‘will’ and has limited knowledge. As and when the soul dispels ignorance through right use of ‘will‘, it gains more and more bliss and acts in harmony with the purpose of creation. That is why it is recommended for soul to emulate Ishwar in whatever way it can, and also work in a manner that cooperates with the overall purpose of creation.
The purpose of life is to enable the soul to conduct such actions that help it get in harmony with purpose of creation. When the harmony reaches a threshold level, there remains no further reason why a soul should take birth. It thus gets freedom from cycle of birth and death, sorrow and happiness and obtains ultimate bliss.
Thus, Mukti means conducting all actions in sync or harmony with purpose of creation. Ishwar is always inspiring us and is all around us and within us as well. But when we realize this and act accordingly, we obtain Mukti.
Q: What is preventing us from Mukti at this very moment? Why Ishwar does not grant us Mukti right now?
A: Answering the second question first: Ishwar does only what is best. It does not act arbitrarily.
Our nature is such that the only way we can obtain Mukti is by dispelling ignorance. And the only way to dispel ignorance is by conducting actions. The only way we can keep practicing doing the right actions is by having an opportunity to take birth and obtain an environment which is best suited to our current level of competence. And Ishwar keeps doing so until we gain mastery and reach Mukti. So He is acting in best possible manner for us to obtain Mukti asap.
Coming to first question, let us review the properties of soul compared to Ishwar and Prakriti (Nature).
Prakriti is Sat – it exists
Soul is Sat and Chit – it exists and it is conscious (living, animate etc)
Ishwar is Sat, Chit and Anand – it exists, is conscious as well as possess bliss.
Now soul DOES NOT possess Anand or bliss intrinsically. It has to move towards bliss through efforts. Since Ishwar has bliss, it implies that it has to move towards Ishwar.
Now let us come to another foundation of Vedic philosophy, “Knowledge = Bliss”.
Since Ishwar has infinite knowledge, it has infinite bliss.
But soul has LIMITED potential and LIMITED knowledge. This LIMIT keeps varying as per its deeds as per the Law of Karma managed by Ishwar.
Thus the ONLY way soul can possess Bliss is by increasing its knowledge through right acts that remove the limits.
The modus operandi of this process is as follows:
1. Actions create Sanskaars (tendencies or habits) and Sanskaars determine Limits of potential of soul. The catch is that the moment you conduct an action, it creates a Sanskaar. Sanskaar implies that the probability of you conducting the same action in similar situation increases.
Thus, if you do wrong acts – like cheating, hating etc – the probability of you doing the same again and again increases. This reduces the limits of your potentials and hence you have reduced knowledge resulting in reduced bliss. Thus you get a step away from Mukti.
But when you do good acts – like compassion, analyzing and accepting only truth, high character etc – the probability of you doing more of such good acts also increases. This leads to greater potential of seeking knowledge and hence bliss. Thus you get a step closer to Mukti.
2. Now EACH AND EVERY ACTION (including thoughts and feelings) count in this process. Also remember that even if you do something even once, its probability of happening again and making you dumber or intelligent increases.
3. A typical soul keeps oscillating between good and bad deeds every moment, going few steps back and few steps forth like a drunkard, resulting in the delay in Mukti.
4. But a yogi uses his will-power to refuse to conduct bad actions and proactively conducts noble actions. This gradually weakens the Sanskaars of old bad actions and replaces them with good Sanskaars. Gradually the seeds of all bad sanskaars are destroyed by a yogi. This results in a situation that bad actions are not repeated under any circumstance by the yogi. He thus has burnt the seeds of bad Sanskaars (dagdhbeej) or has got free of the trap of bad Sanskaars forcing bad actions. He moves straight towards Mukti like an armyman without stepping back.
He surrenders completely to Ishwar’s will and achieves ultimate bliss of Ishwar.
This process of destruction of seeds of sanskaars demands constant practice with full enthusiasm, confidence and faith on Ishwar for a period of time.
THE ONLY CONTROLLING BUTTON WE HAVE IN THIS PROCESS IS OUR WILL-POWER.
Majority of people ignore to use this WILL-POWER in right direction and hence basically act as puppets responding to strings of situations. They thus themselves stifle their progress. Yogis act in opposite manner.
That is why Geeta says that what is day for the world is night for Yogi and vice verse.
The more powerfully you use your WILL-POWER, faster you reach Mukti.
Q: You say Mukti demands knowledge. Does it mean I need to know everything about everything possible in world to achieve Mukti?
A: Even if you desire, you cannot know everything. Because you are not Ishwar.
The knowledge here refers to realization and not mundane knowledge. Thus we are referring to concepts that lead to intrinsic knowledge and not mugging up of anything.
Mugging up is also useful and helpful, but ONLY when it helps improve concepts.
Yajurveda 40.14 summarizes this beautifully: One who clearly understands the concept the Vidya (Knowledge) as well as Avidya, guides himself accordingly through actions from bondage of death to ultimate bliss of Mukti.
Q: Then what do you mean by knowledge and ignorance?
A: Yoga Darshan 2.5 explains this concept in most beautiful manner.
It defines 4 concepts to be Avidya or Ignorance: …….
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