Four Different Paths to Moksha
Salvation is a divine choice of the deliverance of the soul from sin and its consequences. It’s an ultimate stage of spirituality where a person no longer longs for worldly desires. The Bible declares a law which states “For the wages of sin is death” (biblical verse Romans 6:23). By all different religions, texts, cultures, or Atheism- death is the ultimate end of any living being. But death in a literal sense means the separation of the soul from the physical body. Note that the soul never dies; only your physical being is damaged. And this separation is thus known as Salvation.
Moksha, also spelled mokṣa or Mukti, in Indian philosophy is another word for salvation. The liberation from the cycle of life and the process of rebirth means freedom from samsara. However, in Hinduism, it is believed that the material benefits are temporary and eternal salvation is the only ultimate goal. There are various forms of emancipation, salvation, enlightenment, liberation, and release. In its soteriological and eschatological senses, it refers to freedom from life troubles and materialistic things, the cycle of death and rebirth.
Paths to Moksha
The Hindu Vedas describes the concept of Moksha through Purushartha. Purushartha means “object of human pursuit”, and usually refers to a person. ‘Purush’ doesn’t define gender segregation and include both male and female. Whereas ‘Artha’ means the purpose of life, and together they both form the ‘aim of life. Thus, the basic concept of living is fulfilling your Purushartha and attaining the ultimate moksha. In Bhagavad Gita, it is defined that the human body is like an old cloth, which once destroyed should be changed with the new one. The soul lives forever but the body keeps changing.
Moksha is further divided into two stages ‘Jivanmukti’ which means the liberation in this life and ‘videhamukti’ that means liberation after death. The videhmukti is achieved upon a person’s death, whereas to attain Jivanmukti one needs a lot of effort. One must have a deep realization of his sense of self and also discard from materialistic needs. They should free themselves from certain emotions such as greed, expectations, lust, ego, and anger. Once they achieve these two stages, they are finally moved to ‘Paramukti’ which means the final liberation. In Hinduism, there are four paths of moksha- bhakti-yoga, kriya yoga, jnana-yoga, and karma-yoga. And the four principles of moksha are to resolve all your life conflicts before you die, don’t reflect bad behavior and try to filter it, find beauty in simple things, and treat everyone the same.
sri-bhagavan uvaca, mayy avesya mano ye mam, nitya-yukta upasate, sraddhaya parayopetas, te me yuktatama matah
-Lord Krishna in Bhakti Yoga, Bhagwad Gita.
If one uses their emotion or devotion to reach moksha, we call it bhakti-yoga. It means the love and belief you have in God and the universe. When a person realizes that everything is the Supreme Consciousness and nothing happens beyond its fate, it is called bhakti-yoga. It uses our essential emotional relationships and channels them into selfless divine love for the ultimate supreme. Complete self-surrender, being a servant of God, Service with humility, and following the path of humanity is extremely important for a Bhakti Yogi.
To use your body to reach ultimate moksha is known as Karma yoga. This type of yoga believes that a right action is a correct form of prayer. In the Bhagwad Gita, it is mentioned that Karma Yoga means ‘selfless action performed for the benefit of others. It means doing the right thing without any expectation of the fruit and performing duties ethically. It’s the yogi’s selfless acts that help him to reach the moksha.
If one uses intelligence or intellect to reach moksha, it is called Jnana yoga. Jnana in Sanskrit means knowledge or wisdom, a person who uses their intellect to help others and also practices meditation with awareness of absolute consciousness is eligible for this path. It literally means detachment from the illusionary world of ‘Maya’. The four pillars of knowledge are Viveka, Vairagya, Shatsampat, Mumukshutva. The Viveka means the knowledge of distinguishing reality and illusions; Vairagya means detachment from materialistic needs whereas the Mumukshutva means a passion for attaining liberation. The Shatsampat means knowing the six virtues of emotions and the ability to recognize otherwise.
If you use your inner energy to reach moksha it is called Kriya Yoga. If you channel your inner energy towards your spinal centers it helps in natural spiritual unfolding. A purificatory practice of purifying the nervous system, which enables one to reach the levels of consciousness. This type of meditation is extremely straining and needs a lot of willpower and dedication for spiritual awakening.
But all these yoga’s alone cannot help in achieving moksha. They have to get together then only can one become completely meditative. If your body, mind, nature, and energy go in the same direction, you will notice something different within you. Together with these four, your spirit could awaken to realize the Supreme Being. With good karma, charity, and righteousness you get to know about what is supremely important- Dharma, the soul of an individual.