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D. Moksha

In Western thought, the idea of being reborn sounds positive: it is another chance to enjoy a good life. In Hindu thought, however, the idea of being reborn is not so positive. The concept of reincarnation came to fruition at a time when life was hard. Moreover, given the nature of human beings to make mistakes or do bad things, it was considered probable that most people were creating negative karma. By the time of the Upanishads, the problem of existence and the negative view of samsara was well-defined:

In this body, which is afflicted with desire, anger, covetousness, delusions, fear, despondency, hunger thirst, senility, death, disease, sorrow, and the like, what is the good enjoyment of desires?...In this sort of cycle of existence (samsara) what is the good of enjoyment of desires, when after a man has fed on them there is seen repeatedly his return here to earth? Bl pleased to deliver me. In this cycle of existence I am like a frog in a waterless well.

--- --- (Maitri Upanishad 1.3-4)

The goal of Hinduism therefore is to attain moksha. Moksha is liberation from the ongoing cycle of birth-life-death and rebirth. Through the accumulation of enough good karma (through a variety of means) the individual is absorbed into the eternal (Brahman) and freed from rebirth.

 

In our next section, we will see how various religious practices are intended to lead to the goal of moksha.

 


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