HinduHindusHindu religion
In Hinduism, Kama is considered an essential and healthy goal of human life when pursued without sacrificing Dharma, Artha and Moksha. Moksha (Sanskrit: मोक्ष ') or mukti''' (Sanskrit: मुक्ति) is the ultimate, most important goal in Hinduism. In one sense, Moksha is a concept associated with liberation from sorrow, suffering and saṃsāra (birth-rebirth cycle). A release from this eschatological cycle, in after life, particularly in theistic schools of Hinduism is called moksha.


Samkhya philosophySamkhya schoolSankhya
However, once the realization arises that puruṣa is distinct from prakṛti, is more than empirical ego, and that puruṣa is deepest conscious self within, the Self gains isolation (kaivalya) and freedom (moksha). Other forms of Samkhya teach that Mokṣa is attained by one's own development of the higher faculties of discrimination achieved by meditation and other yogic practices. Moksha is described by Samkhya scholars as a state of liberation, where Sattva guna predominates. The Samkhya system is based on Sat-kārya-vāda or the theory of causation. According to Satkāryavāda, the effect is pre-existent in the cause.

Adi Shankara

ShankaraSankaraAdi Shankaracharya
His philosophical thesis was that jivanmukti is self-realization, the awareness of Oneness of Self and the Universal Spirit called Brahman. Shankara considered the purity and steadiness of mind achieved in Yoga as an aid to gaining moksha knowledge, but such yogic state of mind cannot in itself give rise to such knowledge. To Shankara, that knowledge of Brahman springs only from inquiry into the teachings of the Upanishads.


There is a tradition that stresses attaining prajñā (insight, bodhi, kenshō, vipassana) as the means to awakening and liberation. But it has also incorporated the yogic tradition, as reflected in the use of jhana, which is rejected in other sutras as not resulting in the final result of liberation. Lambert Schmithausen, a professor of Buddhist Studies, discerns three possible roads to liberation as described in the suttas, to which Vetter adds the sole practice of dhyana itself.

Ātman (Hinduism)

However, Yoga school's methodology was widely influential on other schools of Hindu philosophy. Vedanta monism, for example, adopted Yoga as a means to reach Jivanmukti – self-realization in this life – as conceptualized in Advaita Vedanta. The Atman theory in Upanishads had a profound impact on ancient ethical theories and dharma traditions now known as Hinduism. The earliest Dharmasutras of Hindus recite Atman theory from the Vedic texts and Upanishads, and on its foundation build precepts of dharma, laws and ethics.

Bhagavad Gita

GitaBhagavad GītāGeeta
Liberation or moksha in Vedanta philosophy is not something that can be acquired. Ātman (Soul) and Self-knowledge, along with the loss of egotistic ignorance, the goal of moksha, is something that is always present as the essence of the self, and must be realized by each person by one's own effort.While the Upanishads largely uphold such a monistic viewpoint of liberation, the Bhagavad Gita also accommodates the dualistic and theistic aspects of moksha. The Gita, while including impersonal Nirguna Brahman as the goal, mainly revolves around the relationship between the Self and a personal God or Saguna Brahman.

Advaita Vedanta

advaitaAdvaita VedāntaAdvaitin
He presented karma, bhakti, jnana and raja yoga as equal means to attain moksha, to present Vedanta as a liberal and universal religion, in contrast to the exclusivism of other religions. Vivekananda emphasised nirvikalpa samadhi as the spiritual goal of Vedanta, he equated it to the liberation in Yoga and encouraged Yoga practice he called Raja yoga. This approach, however, is missing in historic Advaita texts.


VedicvedaVedic literature
The concepts of Brahman (Ultimate Reality) and Ātman (Soul, Self) are central ideas in all the Upanishads, and "Know your Ātman" their thematic focus. The Upanishads are the foundation of Hindu philosophical thought and its diverse traditions. Of the Vedic corpus, they alone are widely known, and the central ideas of the Upanishads have influenced the diverse traditions of Hinduism. Aranyakas are sometimes identified as karma-kanda (ritualistic section), while the Upanishads are identified as jnana-kanda (spirituality section).


All of the Vaishnava Upanishads either directly reference and quote from the ancient Principal Upanishads or incorporate some ideas found in them; most cited texts include the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Chandogya Upanishad, Katha Upanishad, Isha Upanishad, Mundaka Upanishad, Taittiriya Upanishad and others. In some cases, they cite fragments from the Brahmana and Aranyaka layers of the Rigveda and the Yajurveda. The Vaishnava Upanishads present diverse ideas, ranging from bhakti-style theistic themes to a synthesis of Vaishnava ideas with Advaitic, Yoga, Shaiva and Shakti themes. The Bhagavad Gita is a central text in Vaishnavism, and especially in the context of Krishna.

Shvetashvatara Upanishad

ShvetashvataraŚvetāśvatara Upanisad Upanishad
The Upanishad, states it as follows (abridged), The Upanishad, in verses 6.14 through 6.20 discusses Deva (God), interchangeably with Brahman-Atman, and its importance in achieving moksha (liberation, freedom). The text asserts that Deva is the light of everything, and He is the "one swan" of the universe. It is He who is self-made, the supreme spirit, the quality in everything, the consciousness of conscious, the master of primeval matter and of the spirit (individual soul), the cause of transmigration of the soul, and it is his knowledge that leads to deliverance and release from all sorrow, misery, bondage and fear.


In Jaina thought, there are infinite eternal jivas, predominantly all of which are in their cycles of rebirth, and a few who have liberated themselves through an ascetic life and become siddhas (a perfect one). In contrast to Jainism, Hindu philosophies express a spectrum of views, ranging from nondualism where all souls are identical as Brahman and posited as interconnected one, to dualism where souls are same and have Brahman-nature but are different from Brahman, and to other ideas. Further, in Hindu thought, Jainism-style asceticism is not emphasized, rather liberation is achievable through alternate paths such as Jnana yoga, Karma yoga and Bhakti yoga.


The term nirvana in the soteriological sense of "blown out, extinguished" state of liberation does not appear in the Vedas nor in the Upanishads. According to Collins, "the Buddhists seem to have been the first to call it nirvana." However, the ideas of spiritual liberation using different terminology, with the concept of soul and Brahman, appears in Vedic texts and Upanishads, such as in verse 4.4.6 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. This may have been deliberate use of words in early Buddhism, suggests Collins, since Atman and Brahman were described in Vedic texts and Upanishads with the imagery of fire, as something good, desirable and liberating.

Yoga (philosophy)

YogaYoga philosophyYoga school
The root of "Yoga" is found in hymn 5.81.1 of the Rig Veda, a dedication to rising Sun-god in the morning (Savitri), interpreted as "yoke" or "yogically control". Seers of the vast illumined seer yogically [युञ्जते, yunjante] control their minds and their intelligence... " - Rigveda 5.81.1 Rigveda, however, does not describe Yoga philosophy with the same meaning or context as in medieval or modern times. Early references to practices that later became part of Yoga school of Hinduism, are made in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the oldest Upanishad. Gavin Flood translates it as, "...having become calm and concentrated, one perceives the self (atman), within oneself."

Dualism (Indian philosophy)

This mainly takes the form of either mind-matter dualism in Buddhist philosophy or consciousness-matter dualism in the Samkhya and Yoga schools of Hindu philosophy. These can be contrasted with mind-body dualism in Western philosophy of mind, but also have similarities with it. Another form of dualism in Hindu philosophy is found in the Dvaita ("dualism") Vedanta school, which regards God and the world as two realities with distinct essences; this is a form of theistic dualism. By contrast, schools such as Advaita ("nondualism") Vedanta embrace absolute monism and regard dualism as an illusion (maya).

Jnana yoga

jnanajnana''-yogajñāna yoga
The Shaktism literature then adds that both lead to the knowledge of Brahman, but the first one is in the form of sound (shabdabrahman), while the insight from within is the ultimate truth (parabrahman). Some Shakta texts, such as the Sita Upanishad, combine yoga of action and knowledge as a path to liberation. The Devi Gita, a classic text of Shaktism, dedicates chapter 4 to Jnana yoga, stating that a Jnana yogi understands and realizes that there is no difference between the individual soul and herself as the supreme Self. The discussion of Jnana yoga continues through the later chapters of the Devi Gita.


Atharva VedaAtharva-VedaAVS
The second Mundakam describes the nature of the Brahman, the Atman (Self, Soul), and the path to know Brahman. The third Mundakam continues the discussion and then asserts that the state of knowing Brahman is one of freedom, fearlessness, liberation and bliss. The Mundaka Upanishad is one of text that discuss the pantheism theory in Hindu scriptures. The text, like other Upanishads, also discusses ethics. "Through continuous pursuit of Satya (truthfulness), Tapas (perseverance, austerity), Samyajñāna (correct knowledge), and Brahmacharya, one attains Atman (Self, Soul)." - Mundaka Upanishad The Mandukya Upanishad is the shortest of all the Upanishads, found in the Atharvaveda text.


Lord VishnuViṣṇuAyya
The Vaishnava Upanishads are minor Upanishads of Hinduism, related to Vishnu theology. There are 14 Vaishnava Upanishads in the Muktika anthology of 108 Upanishads. It is unclear when these texts were composed, and estimates vary from the 1st-century BCE to 17th-century CE for the texts. These Upanishads highlight Vishnu, Narayana, Rama or one of his avatars as the supreme metaphysical reality called Brahman in Hinduism. They discuss a diverse range of topics, from ethics to the methods of worship. Vishnu is the primary focus of Vaishnavism-focused Puranas genre of Hindu texts.


During its later semantic development, the term came to refer to several non-Brahmanical ascetic movements parallel to but separate from the Vedic religion. The śramaṇa tradition includes Jainism, Buddhism, and others such as the Ājīvikas, Ajñanas and Cārvākas. The śramaṇa movements arose in the same circles of mendicants in ancient India that led to the development of yogic practices, as well as the popular concepts in all major Indian religions such as saṃsāra (the cycle of birth and death) and moksha (liberation from that cycle).


YājñavalkyaYajñavalkyaSage Yagyavalkya
The section 4.3 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is attributed to Yajnavalkya, and it discusses the premises of moksha (liberation, freedom), and provides some of its most studied hymns. Paul Deussen calls it, "unique in its richness and warmth of presentation", with profoundness that retains its full worth in modern times. The Maitreyi-Yajnavalkya dialogue of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad states that love is driven by a person's soul, and it discusses the nature of Atman and Brahman and their unity, the core of Advaita philosophy.


Yoga and meditation has been an integral part of Shaivism, and it has been a major innovator of techniques such as those of Hatha Yoga. Many major Shiva temples and Shaiva tritha (pilgrimage) centers depict anthropomorphic iconography of Shiva as a giant statue wherein Shiva is a loner yogi meditating, as do Shaiva texts. In several Shaiva traditions such as the Kashmir Shaivism, anyone who seeks personal understanding and spiritual growth has been called a Yogi. The Shiva Sutras (aphorisms) of Shaivism teach yoga in many forms.


Shaktism, or traditions where a goddess is considered identical to Brahman, has similarly flowered from a syncretism of the monist premises of Advaita Vedanta and dualism premises of Samkhya–Yoga school of Hindu philosophy, sometimes referred to as Shaktadavaitavada (literally, the path of nondualistic Shakti).


Vishishtadvaita Vedantaqualified monismvishistadvaita
Consequently, Brahman is understood to possess infinite qualities and each of these qualities are infinite in extent. The purpose or goal of human existence is called purushartha. According to the Vedas, there are four goals namely artha (wealth), kama (pleasure), dharma (righteousness) and moksha (permanent freedom from worldly bondage). According to this philosophy, the first three goals are not an end by themselves but need to be pursued with the ideal of attaining moksha. Moksha means liberation or release from samsara, the cycle of rebirth. Bhakti Yoga is the sole means of liberation in Vishishtadvaita.

Maitrayaniya Upanishad

MaitriMaitri UpanishadMaitrāyaṇi Upanishad
After enumerating the sixfold yoga, the Upanishad states that the path to Self-knowledge is yogic meditating on Self and Brahman. This meditation leads to the state that "unites everything in the eternal, highest Atman". The one who thus knows Atman, asserts the text, becomes innately one of goodness, liberated, limitless, blissful. In section 6.23, the Upanishad re-asserts that Brahman is the syllable Om, and then adds that Brahman is manifested in the name of Vishnu, recommending the worship of both. In section 6.30, the Maitri Upanishad acknowledges a debate, based on the Samkhya theories, whether it is the Prakrti or Purusha who attains moksha.


The Asian idea of nondualism developed in the Vedic and post-Vedic Hindu philosophies, as well as in the Buddhist traditions. The oldest traces of nondualism in Indian thought are found as Advaita in the earlier Hindu Upanishads such as Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, as well as other pre-Buddhist Upanishads such as the Chandogya Upanishad, which emphasizes the unity of individual soul called Atman and the Supreme called Brahman. In Hinduism, nondualism has more commonly become associated with the Advaita Vedanta tradition of Adi Shankara.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Yoga SutrasYoga SūtrasYogasutras
'Supra-normal powers' (Sanskrit: siddhi) are acquired by the practice of yoga. Combined simultaneous practice of Dhāraṇā, Dhyana and Samādhi is referred to as Samyama, and is considered a tool of achieving various perfections, or Siddhis. The text warns (III.37) that these powers can become an obstacle to the yogi who seeks liberation. Kaivalya Pada (34 sutras). Kaivalya literally translates to "isolation", but as used in the Sutras stands for emancipation or liberation and is used where other texts often employ the term moksha (liberation).