Nirvana vs Moksha

Nirvana vs Moksha: Pathways to Spiritual Perfection in Buddhism & Hinduism

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 subsequent lifetime.

Moksha is typically translated as liberation or salvation, forgoing the typical cycle of life and death that keeps human beings trapped.

Video: Difference between Nirvana and Moksha |Jay Lakhani | Hindu Academy
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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.

Video: What is Nirvana?

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).

Video: Can you please explain what Moksh is? Sadhguru
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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.


Is Nirvana the same as heaven in Buddhism?

A: Concept of heaven is pretty different from Nirvana. In Buddhism , Nirvana refers to getting free from desires, sufferings, and rebirth. In short it’s a spiritual state one can achieve when he/she lets the ignorance and desires go. 

Can one achieve both Nirvana and Moksha?

The ultimate freedom from the pain and the cycle of rebirth is known as Nirvana in Buddhism. To attain enlightenment and recognize the actual essence of existence, one must give up ignorance and desire. While in Hinduism Moksha is the state of being united with the divine and freed from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth (samsara). 

By practicing various spiritual disciplines, yoga, meditation, and devotion to a particular deity, it can be achieved. Although the goal is to achieve both the ideas at the same time, their philosophy, methods and beliefs are so divergent that it becomes difficult for the people to pursue these at the same time.

Is it possible to experience Nirvana or Moksha in this lifetime?

In different religions like Buddhism and Hinduism, individuals try to achieve the state of Nirvana or Moksha by doing various practices like yoga, meditation and deep understanding of their inner selves. This experience is solely subjective based as it is achieved only if the individual is truly and sincerely dedicated towards the goals of Nirvana or Moksha.

Are there different types of Moksha in Hinduism?

Yes, there are five different types of Moksha in Hinduism. These are named as Swalokya; a person’s spirit returns to same universe or dimension where they previously lived after death, Sameepya; idea of becoming near to or close proximity to the divine, Swaroopya; idea of discovering one’s own divine identity or inner nature, Sayujya; trying to achieve the qualities of divine and Kaivalya; getting the awareness about Brahman.

What happens after attaining Nirvana or Moksha?

In Buddhism and Hinduism, it is believed that a person becomes united and closer to the Brahman after attaining the state of Moksha. This state is beyond personal desires and identity. 

After losing the identity, a person reaches a level where he is aware of his soul purpose, unconscious of what is happening in the physical state of the world. While the state of Nirvana is seen as the end of suffering. The person feels free from the cycle of life and death after attaining the state of Nirvana. The person finds himself in a state of peace and calm free of any pain. In short, both the states are meant to make a person free of physical existence by becoming closer to the divine being.

Are there any similarities between Nirvana and Moksha?

Yes, Nirvana in Buddhism and Moksha in Hinduism have some similarities in ultimate context. Both are aimed to make a person a true follower of the divine by resolving personal desires and identity. 

Happiness of a person becomes dependent on the divine being. After achieving Nirvana or Moksha the person becomes more aware of his inner self and tries to understand his soul purpose so as to become nearer and closer to the divine. In other words, either it is after attaining the level of Nirvana or Moksha the ultimate goal and purpose are soul searching and closeness to the divine. 

Parting Words

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.

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