This blog post aims to provide insight into the meaning of nirvana and moksha (also known as moksh) for those not well versed in Buddhist thought.
I will also explore
the similarities and differences between the two concepts.
Nirvana and Moksha- both of are used within the religions Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Moksha finds its roots in Hinduism whereas Nirvana represents Buddhism origins.
On the one hand, nirvana is a Buddhist concept which means ‘to blow out’ and refers to extinguishing the fires of greed, hatred, and delusion.
On the other hand,
moksha (also known as mukti) is a Hindu concept which means liberation from worldly existence or release from samsara.
The two concepts share similarities in that both refer to achieving spiritual perfection and transcendence.
Nirvana vs. Moksha: An in-Depth Comparison
In nirvana, self-knowledge or consciousness is not considered. In moksha, the main basis is awareness or self-knowledge.
The concept of Nirvana implies that a person can transcend emotions, feelings, and assume a neutral state that persists after death.
In contrast, moksha implies a person can transform his or her soul through good deeds performed in one lifetime in order to return to a good state of being in a
Moksha is typically translated as liberation or salvation, forgoing the typical cycle of life and death that keeps human beings trapped.
While distinct concepts, moksha and nirvana are both concerned with
self-sufficiency. Scholars have compared Nirvana to the Brahman doctrine (often referred to as moksha) of Hinduism and found similarities.
This point, however, is disputed by some scholars. Buddhism, according to them, explicitly rejects Brahman and the soul, which are certain conditions for reaching moksha.
The word “nirvana” is often translated as
“the extinguishing of a flame,” which captures the idea that this state represents ceasing completely all desires and suffering.
This term comes from the Buddhist religion, where it refers to the
ultimate goal of life.
As I mentioned before, it is common for Western scholars to use the terms interchangeably due to their similar meanings.
But in terms of Buddhist fundamentals, nirvana is more than simply freedom from desire and suffering, it also means complete emptiness.
Moksha is an ancient Indian concept with no direct match in
English language; it can be translated as liberation, self-realization or emancipation (from karma).
Moksha is derived from a verb root ‘muk’ meaning ‘to free’ and refers to the liberating effect of enlightenment. In Hinduism, it signifies union with Brahman (or simply the divine).
Nirvana and moksh(a) greatly differ in terms of their religious practices. Moksh is the state where
imperfection ceases to exist, and nirvana is the state where the soul ceases to exist.
Nirvana, where there is no concept of a soul, and moksh, where the soul understands the universe to be its self while becoming one with Brahman.
Nirvana is the cessation of suffering and release from the
cycle of rebirth in Buddhism. Moksh is understanding that one’s true self is pure, eternal and blissful while still living in this world.
Moksha is an important Vedantic concept often translated into English with words like salvation or unconditional bliss.
According to Advaita Vedānta philosophy, one who gains or seeks refuge in the knowledge of their eternal ātman (soul) through “jnana” (knowledge), becomes liberated while living an existing life and when they die, they will be free from rebirth.
Liberation occurs when a person becomes fully aware of their identity with respect to transcendental self-consciousness (Atman).
Nirvana is a noun used to describe enlightenment or liberation from ignorance as well as physical suffering.
This word comes up often in
Buddhist texts because it represents freedom from worldly attachments and desires that cause suffering.
To conclude, nirvana and moksha are often thought of as being synonymous.
Both terms carry similar emotional weight and refer to the state of ultimate freedom, characterized by the absence of sorrows, sufferings, and regrets, and a point of transcendence where these no longer impact an individual.