CHENNAI: Moksha is the central concept of Hindu philosophy. A logical analysis of this concept discloses certain assumptions and implications which are worth our attention. In the very first place, it is to be noted that moksha, which literally means liberation or freedom from bondage, is not regarded as a negative concept but as a positive one; it is a state of being and not a state of ‘nothingness’.
What exists in this state of being is the soul in its transcendence, where it is said to be sat (existence), chit (consciousness) and ananda (bliss). These are to be understood not as separate from each other but as each involving the other and the three together constituting a single state of being. The basic assumption underlying the concept of moksha is that it is the eternal state of being of the soul.
Which is why all Hindu philosophical systems believe that moksha cannot be produced by any means. For, what is produced in time is destructible and hence, if it is to be indestructible, it must have no beginning in time. This is a postulate which is generally accepted by Hindu philosophers and accordingly, they have held the view that moksha cannot be said to be produced in time and is hence indestructible or eternal.
If the soul is eternally free, how did it get involved in a state of bondage? The usual answer given to this question is that ‘involvement in bondage’ is not an ‘act in time’ on the part of the soul, but is itself ‘beginningless’. But though bondage is ‘beginningless’, it is not eternal, since it can be removed. Here we come across another postulate of Hindu philosophy: some beginningless entities are not indestructible. Now the two postulates may together be stated as follows; the postulate underlying the concept of moksha is, what is indestructible is beginningless; and the postulate underlying the concept of bandha (bondage) is, some beginningless entities are not indestructible. Moreover, it must be noted that these postulates do not belong to the same order of reality and it will not be correct to hold them in juxtaposition.
In other words, both moksha and bandha are not beginningless in the same sense. Moksha is beginningless or eternal in the sense that it transcends time and remains so always; but bandha is a temporal process throughout and it is beginningless only in sense that its beginning cannot be fixed in time since time itself begins with it. Eternal freedom (moksha) is perhaps to be understood as being constantly there along with bandha without being affected by it. For what is eternal cannot be affected by what is temporal and much less can there be a transition from one to the other. These, again, are our assumptions underlying the concept of moksha. Accordingly, the fall from liberation to bondage comes to be interpreted as purely logical and not temporal, while the reverse process comes to be interpreted as ‘realisation’ and not as attainment. Another question which is closely linked with the concept of moksha is, if bondage is beginningless and if there was no time when it was not there, how are we to assert that the soul is eternally free and is to be realised as such by it in future?
This cannot be because the soul ‘remembers’ a stage when it was not bound, for there was actually no such temporal stage. If memory is thus ruled out, what is left is anticipation. In anticipation, man conceives a transcendent state of eternal freedom which he seeks to realise.
It is by pointing out the human possibility of ‘stepping out’ of the temporal order of existence so as to be in direct contact with the eternal freedom of the soul. This is said to be possible only through intense meditation or yoga, and for one who has directly experienced a state of freedom through such means, logical reasoning about its authenticity would be unnecessary.
Sri Balagangadaranatha Mahaswamiji