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In the Gita we see that even after the attainment of any loka one has to come back (as a human being) - Aabrahma bhuvanallokaah (8.16) and Ksheene punye martya lokam vishanti (9.21).

It seems therefore that liberation/moksha is possible only during human birth (Jeevan Mukti) or just after (videha mukti). Is this true ? In other words do we have any evidence that suggests that liberation/moksha is not possible in other births - even of devas etc..?

Note: Vivekachudamani does extoll human birth a lot, but does not specifically say that liberation/moksha is possible only during human birth. Or am I mistaken ?

  • Yes only a human birth fetches liberation except in few cases as state by rickross below... some curse etc... where animals have been liberated... That's why human birth is praised... that too with proper functioning of organs of humans is even more praised!!! – Parabrahman Jyoti Nov 16 '18 at 13:04
  • Jatayu - a bird, got moksha for helping Rama. Kabandha - a rakshasa got moksha for fighting Rama. If Rama decides he can grant it to anyone. – ram Nov 16 '18 at 17:51
  • Possible duplicate of Can animals attain moksha? – YDS Dec 25 '18 at 16:16
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Yes, usually that's what is stated in the scriptures. But in certain exceptional circumstances (may be due to compassion/grace of God) even animals or beings lower than humans can also get it.

Chaturashitilakshesu Sarireshu SaririnAm |
Na Manushyam VinA Annyatra Tatva GyAnantu Labhyate ||

Among the 84 lacs kinds of bodies (wombs) Tatva Gyana (Brahma Gyana-the knowledge of self that liberates) is achieved only in the human body and not in any other kinds of bodies.

Kularnava Tantram, Chapter 1, Verse 14.

So, here Lord Shiva quite clearly says that it's only in a human birth that Tattva Gyana is achieved. So, that would mean only in a human birth liberation can be achieved. That's why a human birth is such highly praised in the scriptures and it's even said that gods too long for it.

Related post: Is mukthi possible from world's other than bhuloka(ie. From swarga and naraka)

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In Uddhava Gita of 11th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, Lord Krishna says the following verse

SB 11.20.17 — The human body, which can award all benefit in life, is automatically obtained by the laws of nature, although it is a very rare achievement. This human body can be compared to a perfectly constructed boat having the spiritual master as the captain and the instructions of the Personality of Godhead as favorable winds impelling it on its course. Considering all these advantages, a human being who does not utilize his human life to cross the ocean of material existence must be considered the killer of his own soul.

Also this chapter of 7th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam describes importance of human form of life.

No doubt human life is most suitable and since animals are covered by mode of ignorance, it is difficult. But even animals and humans almost living animal lufe can get liberated in certain circumstances.

SB 2.7.46 te vai vidanty atitaranti ca deva-māyāṁ  strī-śūdra-hūṇa-śabarā api pāpa-jīvāḥ yady adbhuta-krama-parāyaṇa-śīla-śikṣās  tiryag-janā api kim u śruta-dhāraṇā ye

Women, sudras, Hunas, Sabaras and other sinfully born persons also certainly cross over the material world and know the Lord if they learn about the qualities of the devotees of the Lord. If even animals can understand, how much more quickly can humans, who hear from the mouth of guru, understand the Lord?

SB 2.4.18 — Kirāta, Hūṇa, Āndhra, Pulinda, Pulkaśa, Ābhīra, Śumbha, Yavana, members of the Khasa races and even others addicted to sinful acts can be purified by taking shelter of the devotees of the Lord, due to His being the supreme power. I beg to offer my respectful obeisances unto Him.

Even gods in heaven aspire for human form of life

SB 5.19.21: Since the human form of life is the sublime position for spiritual realization, all the demigods in heaven speak in this way: How wonderful it is for these human beings to have been born in the land of Bharata-varsa. They must have executed pious acts of austerity in the past, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself must have been pleased with them. Otherwise, how could they engage in devotional service in so many ways? We demigods can only aspire to achieve human births in Bharata-varsa to execute devotional service, but these human beings are already engaged there.

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