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Few days ago I came across an article related to Buddhism, mostly related to a topic, "Nirvana" . I wonder after reading this, because it is almost similar to "Moksha" in Hinduism. Does anyone know about this? "Moksha" and "Nirvana" are same? If not, what are the differences between them?

  • Hinduism is should not be added -ism to it, because it have no beginning(may be no one knows it). Any thing which found in other religion might be on or the other way a copy of what exists in Vedas and Puranas. So both might be same one another. – Bharadwaj Jul 10 '14 at 13:44
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    Nirvaana is also present in Hinduism. In fact it has always been in Hinduism. Devi is called NirvaanaSukhaDayini. Devi Bhagawatam and Brahma Vaivarta Puraana describe the Nirvaana Mukti (formless and attributeless Mukti) and Saguna Mukti(Bhakti type). – user12826 Mar 26 '18 at 5:46
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Both Nirvana & Moksha are liberation from Samsara(repeating cycle of birth, death & rebirth). To understand the difference between them, we'll see what Moksha & Nirvana is as per many schools of Hinduism & Buddhism(only a very high level view).

Advaita

Advaita school believes in Jivanmukti(liberation here and now). One can attain Moksha while being alive since every atman is already liberated and would only need a realization of it(cognitive shift). The realization here being that of the Nirguna Brahman which is infinite & eternal.

Dvaita & Vishitadvaita

Dvaita believes in post-mortem liberation only. A person who has gone through rigorous ethical and moral disciplines, followed by right knowledge, right action, non-attachment, worship and devotional meditation(upasana) on the Personal God(Vishnu), becomes fit for moksha through God's grace.1 There are 4 levels of Moksha which can be attained based on the level of spiritual progress.

Vishitadvaita also believes in a similar criteria to attain Moksha. Once attained, the atman lives in Vaikunta in the presence of God.

Both these schools do not believe in Jivanmukti.

Mahayana Buddhism

Buddhism is a non-theistic tradition. Nirvana is the realization of Sunyata(emptiness), Anithya(impermanace) and Anatman(non-self). This would mean realization of the cause of Dukha and cessation of Dukha. Similar to Advaita, Nirvana can happen here and now. Liberated Bodhisatvas can remain on earth to help others attain Nirvana. There are 7 levels of Nirvana which can be attained by Humans.

Theravada Buddhism

Nirvana in this is similar to Mahayana but differs a little. Nirvana is not just cessation of Dukha but also annihilation of the person. I.e Nirvana can be attained only post-mortem. All humans attain the same Nirvana attained by the Buddha. No different levels.


The goal for both Nirvana & Moksha is liberation from Samsara but differ in finer details due to the difference meta-physics between Hinduism and Buddhism. The former is mostly theistic and believes in Atman while the later is purely non-theistic and does not believe in existence of Atman(believes in Anatman). I.e in Hinduism samsara is the travel of Atman from one body to another before becoming one with Brahman while in Buddhism samsara is a causal connection between one birth to another before attaining a state of freedom.

Hence, they differ only meta-physically.

Reference:

[1] Swami Bhaskarananda, Journey From Many to One – Essentials of Advaita Vedanta

  • Isn't Mahayana somewhat theistic, since they attach divine status to Buddha? – Vineet Menon Jul 10 '14 at 15:27
  • Theoretically Mahayana too does not believe in a creator God. But Mahayana is also a devotional tradition which elevates Buddha as being superior to all other beings without mentioning him to be God. Kind of ambiguous. I'm not an expert in Buddhism. I may not be fully correct here. – Bharat Jul 10 '14 at 15:49
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Moksha describes becoming one with the only thing that is absolutely real or is permanent. This answer might lean towards Advaita for Moksha.

Nirvana describes becoming detached and liberated from everything that is not permanent. The description for Nirvana is the same for all Buddhist schools.

In both cases, the individual self no longer reincarnates after death and no longer exists as an individual self.

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