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The Real Meaning of Moksha

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

14 September 2021

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These are days when people always speak about stress and strain. Stress and strain – actually this is what we mean by bondage.

अहं बद्धो विमुक्तः स्यामिति यस्यास्ति निश्चयः।

नात्यन्तमज्ञो नो तज्ञः सोऽस्मिञ्छास्त्रेऽधिकारवान् ॥

ahaṃ baddho vimuktaḥ syām-iti yasyāsti niścayaḥ |

nātyantam-ajño no tajñaḥ so’smiñchāstre’dhikāravān ||

…This is a verse from Yogavasishta (1.2.2). It is a very interesting statement. The author says that this scripture is meant for those people who feel that —

Aham baddhah — I am bound; vimuktah syām — I will become free; iti yasyāsti niścayaḥ — who-ever has this kind assessment or decision; nātyantam-ajño nota jñaḥ — that person should not be completely ignorant, nor extremely knowledgeable; for such a person this text is the best. So’smin  sāstre’dhikāravān — he is fit for making use of this text.

I would like to stress today on this point of moksha (liberation) and bandhana (bondage). Generally, bandhana and moksha, to begin with, are religious concepts. We believe that we had a number of lives in the past and a number of lives may follow the present one. Normally this cycle will continue endlessly. And, it is believed that moksha is the freedom from this repeated embodiment. Now, the basic assumption underlying such a belief or thought is that we have a number of lives. Who told you that? Have you subjected the statement to close examination?

We are living in a pratyaksha (perceptible) world. Our hunger, our thirst, our relationships – all these are pratyaksha. As we live, we are guided every moment only by the pratyaksha facts and the pratyaksha associations. Being so, how are you suddenly bringing in this assumption that we have a number of lives? How could it be that there were many lives earlier? And that there will be many lives to follow? Suppose you have two children and I say that you have a third one. Will you accept it? No. Then why in this case assume that there were lives, there will be lives? It is this speculative or imaginary position that becomes the basis of our commonly understood conception of moksha. I don’t think this concept is correct. This is all right religiously. But practically, this cannot be a proper pursuit for man. As long as life is based upon the pratyaksha facts and associations, our concept of moksha and bandhana also must be a pratyaksha one.

I think this bandhana is no other than the torment resulting in tension, confusion, agitation and the like. This agitation can be due to a physical fact or a situation. It can also be born out of a speculation or an assumption. If you are obsessed by your previous lives or, if you are obsessed by your future life – whatever may be the reason – in as much as it has got a direct effect on your mind, your obsession becomes a pratyaksha botheration. And it has to be treated. Whatever may be the impact of your imaginations, interactions, concepts or other things created by the mind, these impacts go by the name bondage – especially when they are unfavourable and distasteful.

Moksha is the state when the mind and buddhi become free of these botherations – free of the bandhanas. Botherations can be caused by facts or fictions. We have factual botheration; we also have imaginary botherations. In imaginary botherations come all the things referring to the past and future lives. In the factual botherations will be the present life situations. The mind is unable to reconcile with a certain development. A number of desires are there. You are not able to fulfil them. So dejection follows. In the relationship around, you find disharmony. That bothers you. If everything is bad, it becomes difficult to live. If everything is good, it becomes difficult to leave. These are all pratyaksha facts and botherations.

Moksha is a clarity, a freedom that you need from whatever troubles you have now. If there is no trouble, you don’t need moksha. If there is no torment, you don’t want any freedom. But generally the world and the life in it are such that everyone who lives will have tension, stress and strain. These are days when people always speak about stress and strain. Stress and strain – actually this is what we mean by bondage. I always say that all interactions with the world objects are interactions externally; but in the ultimate effect or outcome level, they become subjective — mental, intellectual and emotional. Whenever you interact with the world, the interaction may be external and object based. But the resultant of the interactions is always in your mind. It is emotional in character. These resultants become a bothering element for you.

Many interactions produce tension. And what will you do to take away the tension? A tension can be in the form of disfavour, displeasure or agitation. It can be in the form of doubt, lack of clarity or indecision. So, all kinds of stress and strain are relatable to the mind or the intellect — either they are of emotional nature or they are of intellectual nature. Doubt, when it is very strong, creates torment. So this kind of a torment or displeasure is ultimately the bandhana that we all have.

Moksha is the state where this displeasure, agitation, doubt or torment stands dissolved. To which extent you are bound and to which extent you need freedom – I think this can be determined by everyone. That state of clarity where the mind is peaceful, the intelligence is very clear and transparent, is called moksha.

Some people suffer from excessive thinking, improper thinking. I always write to and tell our S: “Why are you, my dear boy, thinking ahead of your age and ahead of your state? Why do you think so much? Think less and think to the extent you want, you are, not beyond.” Again, some people have a doubting mind, doubting intellect. Unnecessary! Gita says: “samsayātma vinasyati ” — the doubting mind gets destroyed! So, don’t unnecessarily misconstrue these words bandhana and moksha. They need not be religious. They can be philosophical, they can also be spiritual. But ultimately it is a question relating to your mind and intelligence. The mind should become peaceful and the intelligence should become doubt-free.

Yogavasishtha says its contents will be relevant and useful to persons of average intelligence and receptivity who feel, “I am bound and I want freedom”.

In this way you find that, a jnani according to Vedanta, is one who is neither a jnani nor an ajnani. He doesn’t feel that he is an ajnani and hence he has no botherations of ignorance. Therefore, he doesn’t need jnana. His mind becomes free of jnana-ajnana dvandva; free of moksha- bandhana dvandva. It is a wonderful state of clarity, ease and felicity!…

Harih Om Tat Sat

– From the book–Prabhata Rashmih-Vol 1

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“The mind should become peaceful and the intelligence should become doubt-free. ”

“To which extent you are bound and to which extent you need freedom – I think this can be determined by everyone.”

“Moksha is the state where this displeasure, agitation, doubt or torment stands dissolved.”

“That state of clarity where the mind is peaceful, the intelligence is very clear and transparent, is called moksha.”

“Moksha is the state when the mind and buddhi become free of these botherations – free of the bandhanas. ”

“A jnani according to Vedanta, is one who is neither a jnani nor an ajnani. ”

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