The Five Kinds Of Liberation

[Rama's lotus feet]“Pure devotees reject the five kinds of liberation; indeed, for them liberation is very insignificant because they see it as hellish.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 9.267)

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It’s the fourth and hopefully last reward of living. Upon attaining it, the previous three are negated. No more searching for profit from endeavor, artha. No more adhering to strict rules and regulations in order to stay on the righteous path, dharma. And no more risking rebirth through material attachment in sense gratification, kama.

Moksha, or liberation, is the end to the cycle of birth and death. Time is infinite in both directions and the living spirit always has some independence, which means that it is entirely possible to choose to go in a different direction after the fact. Moksha is not having to suffer under the laws of the material world, where birth and death are required by rule, forced upon the living entity, who is otherwise helpless.

Moksha also means “to release,” and so when let free from the burdens of reincarnation there is a specific kind of enjoyment. That experience is known as mukti, and there are five kinds. The pure devotee is so amazing that they don’t even seek liberation, though that may be a motivating factor in the beginning.

1. Salokya

It should be stated that achieving mukti is not easy in the slightest. The human birth is a reward received after many births and deaths. Then within that population a person has to be fortunate enough to want to know more, to endeavor for perfection in living. The default mentality does not seek mukti; the chase for sense gratification mimics the behavior of the animals.

“Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.3)

Potential objects of attachment are everywhere, and as long as there is the slightest attachment rebirth is guaranteed. Liberation is based on consciousness, particularly that measured at the time of death. When there are no material desires, which the true spiritual seekers aim for, then rebirth stops.

“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)

Salokya is one of the kinds of liberation available after becoming free from the cycle of birth and death and material desires. This kind of mukti brings residence on a planet where the Supreme Personality of Godhead resides. He is the original purusha, or person, and He is also ananta, or unlimited. He can live in many places simultaneously. He is within every space in the material world through the expansion of Supersoul, but this liberation refers to places where God stays in a personal, complete form.

2. Samipya

In this liberation a person becomes God’s associate. They follow Him wherever He goes. They are always by His side, in some place in the spiritual world.

3. Sarupya

One distinction between the material world and the spiritual world is the issue of dual-identity. At present I identify with the body, but actually that is just a covering. The spirit inside is what animates the body. After liberation there is no such distinction. The individual gets a spiritual body, which means that their identity is taken as a whole, meaning even from the rupa, or form.

“In sarupya liberation the bodily features of the devotee are exactly like those of the Supreme Person but for two or three symptoms found exclusively on the transcendental body of the Lord. Shrivatsa, for example, the hair on the chest of the Lord, particularly distinguishes Him from His devotees.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.29.13 Purport)

In sarupya mukti the individual gets a form just like God’s. In the Vaikuntha realm there are planets where the Supreme Lord resides in a beautiful, four-handed form. The other residents get an almost identical form. With this liberation you are basically just like God, with the shrivatsa a distinguishing factor; only God has this mark.

4. Sarshti

In this liberation a person attains opulences just like the Supreme Lord. One name for Him is Bhagavan, which means a person who possesses all fortunes. He has beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom and renunciation simultaneously, and to the fullest degree. The person who has attained liberation has a chance to get some or all of the same opulences.

5. Sayujya

This is merging into the effulgence of the Lord. That energy at the collective level is known as Brahman. In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna describes how the living entities are Brahman. They are already part of this energy, but in the conditioned state they don’t realize it. As a result they go through the cycle of birth and death.

Sayujya is the liberation where the living entities escape from the illusion of maya and enter into the Brahman effulgence. The distinction with this kind of mukti is the loss of identity. There is no chance for interaction or activity. It is a kind of stateless existence.

“Vibhishana obtained Lanka, Sugriva became king, and Hanuman and Jatayu also received wonderful rewards, but the fallen Tulsidas only wants love for Shri Rama’s holy name.” (Dohavali, 34)

[Rama's lotus feet]As mentioned before, devotees don’t seek any of these kinds of mukti. They simply want to serve. As Goswami Tulsidas so wonderfully states in his Dohavali, the lone desire is to have attachment to God, and more specifically to the holy name. With that attachment even residence in the hellish region is acceptable, for there will always be the opportunity for continued devotion. But until such a high platform is reached, the dangling carrot of mukti helps to bring urgency for escaping the clutches of a material existence.

In Closing:

Fourth reward of life known,

Surpassing rest, standing alone.

Liberation in five ways defined,

No more birth and death to find.

On God’s planet or with form the same,

Companion, opulences or merging to gain.

Devotee never any such accepting,

Save bhakti all else rejecting.

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