The word `mokSha' is derived from the root verb `mokSh' which means: to wish to free one's self. seek deliverance; to free one's self from (acc.) , shake off ; to free or deliver from (abl.); to liberate , emancipate (from transmigration) ; to loosen , untie , undo ; to detach , extract , draw out of ; to wrest or take away anything from ; *
A synonym for mokSh is `muc' (or `much'): to loose , let loose , free , let go , slacken , release , liberate from; to free one's self , get rid of , escape, to relax the throat i.e. raise a cry ; , to slacken the reins ;, to deprive of life , kill) ; to set free , allow to depart , dismiss , dispatch to ; to relinquish , abandon , leave , quit , give up , set aside , depose, to quit the body or give up the ghost i.e. to die) ; to yield , grant , bestow; to send forth , shed , emit , utter , discharge , throw , cast , hurl , shoot at , to throw one's self down from) loosed , to be set free or released. ; to deliver one's self from , to get rid of , escape (esp. from sin or the bonds of existence); to abstain from ; to be deprived or destitute of, to cause to loose or let go or give up or discharge or shed; to gladden , delight , yield enjoyment, to wish to deliver (from the bondage of existence) , (to wish or be about to set; to be about to give up or relinquish (life); to wish or intend to cast or hurl to wish to free one's self; to desire final liberation or beatitude *
Some have explained the derivation as an acronym formed by combining the first two letters of the words moha (delusion) and kShaya (destruction), mo(h)a + kSha(ya).
The word is sparsely used in the Vedas, only once in the 10 major upanishads (Brihad. 3:1:3), and once in Chandogya upan., though the meaning is conveyed in many other phrases. It occurs more frequently in Shvetashvatara , Tejobindu, Maitri and Muktika upanishads.
A word allied to both is `mumukShu', one who desires mokSha or freedom.
The verb declensions of the verb `muc' are somewhat more in number.
3 Brahmasutras refer to mukti by word -1:3:2; 3:4:52; 4:4:2
Gita uses both words quite frequently, besides many other phrases.
mokSha is counted as the fourth and ultimate goal (niHshreyas or Summum Bonum) of human life (puruShArtha-s) , preceded by the foundation of Dharma (virtuous actions), Artha and Kama (wealth and pleasures conducive to the prosperity or `abhyudaya') in this world. The epic, Mahabharata, has one whole section devoted to `mokSha- Dharma'.in Shati Parva (Book 12). Bhagavata Purana has many touching stories related to mokSha, one of the best-known being `gajendra-mokSha', the liberation of the King of Elephants by Vishnu Himself.***
At the phenomenal level (`vyAvahArika') of discussion, the word mokSha naturally brings up its antonym – bandha, or bondage. Thus many of the phrases pointing to the meaning of mokSha are couched in words saying `freedom from bondage'. The bondage is also referred to as `chit-jaDa granthi', the knot of Ignorance lodged in one's `heart'.
At the noumenal level (`pAramArthika') neither word holds valid (Gaudapada Karika on Mandukya Upanishad 2:32).
Scriptures and Sages have declared that the knowledge of the true nature of one's own self (svarUpa- or Atma- j~nAna) is the only key to understanding the mystery of Existence, and this Knowledge alone secures limitless and eternal Happiness (Ananda), and ends the recurrent cycles of births and deaths (saMsAra or prapa~ncha). This knowledge itself is mokSha or mukti. Other epithets for the liberated individual are: j~nAnI, sthitapraj~na, yogArUDha, guNAtIta (Self-Realized, Liberated, Enlightened, etc.).
As Gita states (18:30), the understanding of bondage and freedom depend on the `sAttvika' (pure) nature of the intellect.
The bondage refers to the ego's desires for actions (karma) that give pleasures (rAga) and avoid pain (dveSha) to the body and mind, through contacts with objects (viShaya). As objects are infinite, so desires also seem to be endless. The pleasures, however, are ephemeral, and alternate with the pain of either not getting them or of losing them once they are achieved.
The thirst for their enjoyment can be overcome by the restraint of senses and the proper performance of one's duties and their results as sacrificial offerings (`yaj~na') to the Supreme Spirit (Brahman) .
mokSha or mukti has been described as `sadyo'- (immediate) in this life itself, and `krama'- (gradual) going through grades of expanding awareness of more and more subtle worlds ( e.g. mahA, jana, tapa, satya or brahma loka).
Jivan-mukti and videha-mukti are other terms one comes across, indicating the dissolution of one's ego while living in the present body, or happening after the body's death respectively.
Some examples of phrases from the scriptures: (for translations pl. ref. Celextel link below):**
Ishavasya upan. 2 – na karma lipyate nare | Katha upan. 2:3:8 – yaM j~nAtvA muchyate | Mundaka upan. 3:2:8 – nAma-rUpAd vimuktaH | Chandogya upan. 7:26:2 – sarvagranthInAM vipramokShaH | Brihadaranyaka upan.3:1:6- sA muktiH, sA atimuktiH, iti atimokShAH | Shvetashvatara upan.6:16 – saMsAra-mokSha-sthiti-bandha-hetuH | Maitri upan. 6:34:8 – etaj j~nAnaM cha mokShaM cha | :11 - mana eva manushhyaaNaa.n kaaraNaM bandhamokShayoH | bandhaaya vishhayaasaktaM muktyai nirvishhaya.n smR^itamiti ..
3:9- yaGYaarthaatkarmaNo.anyatra loko.aya.n karmabandhanaH . tadartha.n karma kaunteya muktasaN^gaH samaachara ..
4:9 - punarjanma naiti maameti so.arjuna :16 - tatte karma pravakShyaami yajGYaatvaa mokShyase.ashubhaat.h :32 - taansarvaanevaM GYaatvaa vimokShyase
5:17 - gachchhantyapunaraavR^itti.n GYaananirdhuutakalmaShaaH :28 - vigatechchhaabhayakrodho yaH sadaa mukta eva saH
7:29 - jaraamaraNamokShaaya maamaashritya yatanti ye
8:15- maamupetya punarjanma duHkhaalayamashaashvatam.h . naapnuvanti mahaatmaanaH sa.nsiddhiM paramaa.n gataaH .. :16- aabrahmabhuvanaallokaaH punaraavartino.arjuna . maamupetya tu kaunteya punarjanma na vidyate ..
9:1 - GYaanaM viGYaanasahitaM yajGYaatvaa mokShyase.ashubhaat.h :3 - apraapya maa.n nivartante mR^ityusa.nsaaravartmani :28 - sa.nnyaasayogayuktaatmaa vimukto maamupaiShyasi
11:54 - bhaktyaa tvananyayaa shakya ahameva.nvidho.arjuna . GYaatuM draShTu.n cha tattvena praveShTu.n chaparantapa ..
13:35 - bhuutaprakR^itimokSha.n cha ye viduryaanti te param.h
15:4 - tataH padaM tatparimaargitavyam yasmingataa na nivartanti bhuuyaH
16:5 - daivii sampadvimokShaaya nibandhaayaasurii
17:25 - daanakriyaashcha vividhaaH kriyante mokShakaaN^kShibhiH
18:30 - bandhaM mokSha.n cha yaa vetti buddhiH saa paartha saattvikii :49 - asaktabuddhiH sarvatra jitaatmaa vigataspR^ihaH . naiShkarmyasiddhiM paramaa.n sa.nnyaasenaadhigachchhati ..
3:13 - yaGYashiShTaashinaH santo muchyante sarvakilbiShaiH :31 - shraddhaavanto.anasuuyanto muchyante te.api karmabhiH
5:3 - nirdvandvo hi mahaabaaho sukhaM bandhaatpramuchyate
10:3 - asammuuDhaH sa martyeShu sarvapaapaiH pramuchyate
18:53- vimuchya nirmamaH shaanto brahmabhuuyaaya kalpate
2:39 - buddhyaa yukto yayaa paartha karmabandhaM prahaasyasi :51 - janmabandhavinirmuktaaH padaM gachchhantyanaamayam.h
4:14 - maa.n yo.abhijaanaati karmabhirna sa badhyate
14:6 - sukhasaN^gena badhnaati GYaanasaN^gena chaanagha
1:3:2 – muktopasRRipyavyapadeshaat.h |
3:4:52 - evaM muktiphalAniyamastadavasthAvadhRRiteH....|
4:4:2 - muktaH pratij~nAnAt.h |
http://www.himalayanacademy.com/resources/books/vedic_experience/Part6/VEPartVIChC.html OR http://tinyurl.com/2p7l6f
[THE MAHABHARATA SANTI PARVA PART II SECTION CLXXIV (mokShadharma Parva) ]
Definition - Dr. K. Sadananda
From the Vedantic understanding, I would like add the following:
mokSha as you illustrated is freedom from bondage. The desire for that (mumukShutva) is the utmost desire that one should have to fulfill one's goal in life - that is to be absolutely happy with no limitations of what-so-ever. Hence it is the highest puruShArtha or highest human goal to be achieved. Hence freedom from limitations is mokSha. Hence Shankara defines mokSha as freedom from any body identification - sthUla, sUkShma, kAraNa sharIra which are by definition are limited. Absolute limitless freedom (anantatvam) and infinite inexhaustible happiness (anandatvam) are thus equated with mokSha.
Since mokSha involves limitlessness and infiniteness; it cannot be gained or given. In this respect advaita Vedanta stands tall in comparison to other Vedantic interpretations, where mokSha is given through the grace of God, and Lord Narayana alone has the capacity to give for those who deserve - 'maam evaye prapadyante maayaam etaam tarantite' - by complete surrender to me alone one can gain mokSha or one can cross over the insurmountable delusory mAyA. That which can be gained or given comes under the category of aprAptasya prApta - 'gaining something that I do not have' - If mokSha comes under that category, then it is not intrinsic with me as it is gained or given. Hence there is a beginning for mokSha. That which has a beginning must have an end - essentially that which is given or earned can be lost too. Therefore mokSha becomes finite and not infinite since only finite things alone can be given.
Hence advaita Vedanta says mokSha cannot be of the type 'aprAptasya prApta' but should be of the form 'prAptasya prApta' that is gaining something that I already have or that which is intrinsic with me. Happiness is not something that I gain, but something I have to realize. A quiet and contented mind is a happy mind. Mind free from the notions of limitations is the mind free from any longing to be free. That is the mind free from all limitations - limitations of place, time and qualities. Hence amRRitabindu U. says manaeva manushyaaNaam kaaraNam bandha mokSha yoH|
Mind alone is responsible for both bondage and freedom. Identification with the finite is bondage and realization of one's own true advaitic nature is freedom. Like all other knowledge, this knowledge has to take place in the mind alone - as Swami Dayananda-ji used to say 'there is no nasal knowledge'. One cannot become free; one has to understand that one is free. One cannot become infinite one has to understand that one is infinite. That is mokSha, as per advaita.
Return to the Contents page for the Terms and Definition.