Monday, November 3, 2008

Four Ways to Moksha

The Hindu faith offers at least four ways to achieve moksha, or liberation of the soul.These are known as yogas or margas, paths to moksha.

1. Karma Yoga - According to the Great Asian Religions it is the way of action, or karma yoga, the discipline of action.Basically, karma marga means performing one's dharma according to one's place in life.Certain duties are required of all people, such as ahimsa and abstention from alcohol and meat, but the specific dharma of each individual depends on that person's caste and stage in life.

This karma is performed strictly within caste limitations.Purity of caste is maintained by neither marrying nor eating outside of one's caste, which was determined by one's Karma in a previous existence.Therefore one's caste is not viewed as an injustice but as a legacy from a previous incarnation.In Hindu philosophy men and women are not all equal. They are divided by caste and by sex and, in effect, by color. Usually the lighter the skin, the higher the caste.

2. Jnana Yoga - "The way of knowledge, or jnana yoga, the discipline of knowledge. In constrast to the way of action, karma marga, with its prescribed duties for every occasion in life, jnana marga provides a philosophical and psychological way of knowing the self and the universe.Being, not doing, is the key to jnana marga.Most importantly, this way makes moksha possible in this life for its practitioners" (Great Asian Religions)It involves introspective yoga and withdrawal from the world and the practice of austerities.It is the expression of self-control and self-denial.

3. Bhakti Yoga - "The most popular form of Hindu tradition today. This is the way of devotion, bhakti marga. In contrast to karma marga,this path is easier, more spontaneous, and may be followed by persons of any caste,sex, or age.It allows human emotions and desires to flow freely rather than to be overcome by yogic asceticism.It consists exclusively of devotion to divine beings." And there are traditionally 330 million to venerate. According to this tradition, to know is to love.In fact, bhakti means "emotional attachment to one's chosen god."(Great Asian Religions)

4.Raja Yoga - A method of "special postures, methods of breathing, and rhythmical repetition of the proper thought-formulas"(Man's Religion)It has eight steps.