Question 178: How does one obtain moksha (liberation)?

One light One Atma One ParamatmaThe young Rama asks about attaining liberation (moksha) – freedom from the cycle of birth – death – and birth again. The sage reminds Rama that the universe is neither real nor unreal; it is experienced because of the ideation of the mind. With the company of the goodly and godly and the saints (satsang) even the dumb and blind can journey to moksha.

Lokpal, loka-pāla San. m. guardian of the world/people or of the eight directions; see dikpāla

dikpāla (dish+pāla) Hin., San. m. (loka-pāla, dikpati) world guardian; king; the guardian deity of one of the four cardinal and four intermediate points of the compass: Indra in the east, Agni in the south-east; Yama in the south; Nirriti in the south-west; Varuna in the west; Vāyu in the north-west; Kubera in the north and Īshāna in the north-east.

sattva Hin. m. sattva San. n. sattvoguna (sattva+guna) San. m. one of the three constituents (guna) of nature (prakriti) – the quality of light, the illuminating aspect that reveals all manifestation. It is expressed as harmony, equilibrium, purity, goodness, virtue, honesty, nobility, forgiveness, compassion, charity, wisdom, happiness.

rajas, rajoguna San. m. the activating quality (guna) of nature that allows the other two constituents to manifest themselves, and therefore this quality is associated with the creator, Brahma. It covers desire and ambition, attachment, passion, righteous indignation, pride, anger and envy.

tamas, tamoguna Hin., San. m. the quality of darkness, gloom and inertia – sleep, passivity, idleness, dullness, stubbornness, confusion, delusion, lack of discrimination, the inability to distinguish between right and wrong or falsehood and truth, having little interest or ambition; lust, fear, greed. Tamas is born of ignorance, yet darkness is not necessarily ignorance – it may yet be the darkness that exposes the light.

moksha: liberation, for salvation, and of liberation, liberation from material bondage

vairagya: detachment

atmananda bliss to the soul

Abyasa (abhyaasa). Systematic, steady practice.

vichara: self-inquiry; contemplation, thought; reflection and introspection


Question 178: Sir, how do they who are in their last birth, attain moksha (liberation)?

Answer: Ramji, those who do not forget their true self right since their birth are purely sattvic. Brahma, Vishnu and Lokpal belong In this category. Those who attain wisdom (jnana) in the first birth are sattvic. Those who attain moksha after many births are rajasic-sattvic. When others, such as the dumb, blind and inert enter the company of saints, it may be assumed that they are in their last birth. Such souls attain moksha through contemplation in the company of saints and they are called rajasic-sattvic. Mind is purified by virtuous actions performed according to holy scriptures, and then arises vairagya (detachment) which is followed by renunciation of material possessions. When, by his continuous practice and contemplation of scriptures in the company of saints, an individual frees himself from the illusions of the world, he firmly realises the illusory and transitory character of the world and thinks of its non-existence. Association with saints and scriptures is a prerequisite for the quest of the Self and for knowing the truth about the universe.

Ramji, the universe is neither real (sat) nor unreal (asat); it is experienced because of the ideation of the mind and it merges with the quiescence of the mind. In case you consider the universe perennial and accept it as real, even then you should have no regrets because what is perennial will continue for ever; so why regret? But in case you consider it unreal then, too, you must have no regrets for how long can the unreal stay? Why regret about what is perishable and not lasting? Understand the world with reflection, abandon all your sorrows, and be established in yourself. You are beyond birth and death. Like akash, you are ever sublime and of tranquil nature. Being fearless about the sufferings of the world, be firmly established in your Atmananda (bliss of the Soul). Those who are wise must remain in the company of saints (satsang) and assimilate their nature or live like them and meditate upon the scriptures. Living that way they, too, will become saints. Those who have been earnest in their discipline (abhyas) and have developed the spirit of vairagya (detachment) and are thus engaged in reflection and introspection (vichara), are worthy of reverence.


Those who have the inner urge to achieve the higher wisdom which confers liberation have, therefore, to reflect upon and investigate the phenomenon of death. Death should arouse no fear. It should not be regarded as inauspicious. You should not run away from the problem, imagining that death happens only to others, and that it will not happen to you. Neither should you postpone reflections on death, judging that they are inappropriate now, and profitless. For, inquiry into death is really inquiry into one’s own Reality. This truth has to be recognised.

Viveka, (discrimination) the special gift to man, has to be employed to unravel the reality of the visible Universe, its nature and validity. The fact of death is the prime cause which originates the problem. “Who am I?”. So, that fact ought not to be ignored, as unworthy of attention. You should not flee from it in fear. For, if you behave so, you land yourself on the first step towards Ajnana, stupidity, and plant in your mind the seedling of the tree of foolishness. You prop up the pillars of Maya.

Many preceptors and teachers declare that the path of inquiry into oneself is the path of liberation for man, “Swa vimarso mokshah – Self-inquiry leads to Liberation” is the assurance. “That is the Atma; that is my self”, “I and the Atma are not different”, “The Atma and the Paramatma are not separate”. The yarn ‘I’ is both warp and woof of the cloth, the Atma. When the ‘I’ yarn is found in different bodies and feels that in each body it is distinct from the rest, the Atma cloth can be said to disappear; but in both yarn and cloth, there is one substance ever persisting, in spite of how each feels – and that substance is ‘cotton’. So too, Paramatma persists as the only Truth, in the ‘I’ the Atma. Without the cotton, Parmatma, there can be no ‘I’ yarn; without the ‘I’ yarn, there can be no Atma cloth. These three – Paramatma, Atma and I – are only forms and names for the One – the Paramatma, the One Atma, the Divine Atma. (Sathya Sai Vahini)


Satsang at an ashram
Satsang: the company of the goodly and Godly is an important step towards moksha, liberation.


Hamsa Gayatri
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Paramahamsaya Dheemahi
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayat

“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as the Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/MatirManush