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Lord Krishna is the supreme Being according to the Bhagavad Gita and is the giver of moksha. Also, can all the avatars of Vishnu give moksha? Like Lord Govinda, Lord Rama, Lord Lakshmi Narasimha, Lord Anantha Padmanaba, etc. And what about Lord Shiva? He gave moksha to the great Bhakta Kannappa and of course many others.

What about Lord Brahma and mother Parvathi Devi?

What about other gods like Lord Ganesha, Lord Ayyappa, etc.?

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    What does Moksha mean? Does moksha mean that we are reborn in a 'heaven' where we can get all our desires fullfilled? Does moksha mean that we are reborn in a 'loka' (goloka, kailash, etc.) where we spend time with our Beloved God in one particular form to eternity? Does moksha mean that we realize the true Self in us, or that God resides in our heart, thereby liberating us in all worlds (such moksha does not require us to be born in any world, but rather is the end of the birth-death cycle of misery)? Does moksha mean that we realize God resides in all forms, thereby filling us with Divinity? – Sai Oct 29 '14 at 15:18
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    Regardless of these above definitions, one thing is certain. The path to Moksha is not easy. It is like going through a forest filled with various dangers such as traps, lions, tigers, etc. But the way is made instantly easy if we travel with a guide, knows d way. This guide is our Guru, or our Ishta Deva, it may be Sri Krishna, Lord Shiva, Sriman Narayana, Sri Krishna Chaitanya or Swami Vivekananda. All who have reached the destination, come down to Earth to help others to reach the destination. One who hold on fast to their teachings and their faith shall surely be liberated in due course!! – Sai Oct 29 '14 at 15:19
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    Lord Krishna has other name Govinda they are not different persons. – Yogi Oct 30 '14 at 7:36
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ekam sat vipra buhudha vadanti

Truth is One, men call it by various names - The One Brahman is called by various names. Rig Veda

Krishna says (Gita VIII, 5-6) "And whoso, at the time of death, leaves his body remembering me alone and goes forth - he attains My being; concerning this there is no doubt. For whatever object a man thinks of at the final moment, when he leaves his body - that alone does he attain, O son of Kunti, being ever absorbed in the thought thereof."

If Moksha were the result of Knowledge and were therefore endowed with a beginning, it would then come to an end. It would not be eternal. Arising from non-existence, it would again dissolve into nothingness. "Moksha cannot have a beginning and be eternal" (Mandukya Upanishad, Gaudapada Karika, IV. 30.) Liberation is therefore not something which is created, but is the realization of THAT which has existed from eternity but has hitherto been concealed from us. "All jivas are ever free from bondage and pure by nature. They are ever illumined and liberated from the very beginning." (Mandukya Upansihad, Gaudapada Karika, IV. 98.)

He who knows the Self is liberated, even the gods cannot prevent his being so, because he has realized himself to be the very Atman of the gods (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad I. iv. 10.)

"A man who thinks he is free becomes free; a man who thinks he is bound remains bound. This popular saying is quite true - 'as you think, so you become.'" (Astavakra Samhita, I. 11.)

You are free already. You only have to realize it. No one grants it to you.

  • So if anyone thinks about Lord Siva before their death, then he gets Moksha? – user12458 Nov 6 '14 at 13:54
  • Yes. It is said to one who repeats God's name 3 times at the time of death gains liberation. Krishna says (Gita 8.5) "And whoso at the time of death, leaves his body thinking of Me alone and goes forth--he attains My being; concerning this there is no doubt." – Swami Vishwananda Nov 7 '14 at 5:04
  • What about Ganesha, Mother Parvathi, Mother Lakshmi, karthikeya etc? Whose names when repeated give moksha? – user12458 Nov 14 '14 at 16:38
  • Do you have a scriptural reference? – Swami Vishwananda Nov 15 '14 at 12:05
  • No, I am not actually talking that they will give moksha. But I am asking instead, will they? – user12458 Nov 15 '14 at 15:04
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Various sects would have own views regarding this. Vaishnavas might tell moksha is not possible without grace of Lord Vishnu, similarly Shaivites might tell it is not possible without grace of Lord Shiva and similar for other sects like Shaktas, Ganapatyas, etc..

However we can take help of Shruti verses or eternal Veda sentences in such cases:

1) Lord Shiva:

There are various answers here which state Lord Shiva can't grant moksha. However this is not statement of Vedas, it's their own imaginations.

Lord Shiva is the only God in Samhitas of Vedas from whom the revealed mantras during meditations ask for Moksha. RigVeda 7.59.12, Taittariya Samhita of YajurVeda in 1.8.6.i, Vajasena Samhita of YajurVeda in 3.60 declare the same statement as:

त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम्
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान्मृत्योर्मुक्षीय माऽमृतात् ।।

We worship the Three-eyed Lord who is fragrant and who nourishes and nurtures all beings. As is the ripened cucumber freed from its bondage (to the creeper), may He liberate us from death for the sake of immortality.

मृत्योर्मुक्षीय माऽमृतात् = मृत्यु + मोक्ष + मम अमृतात् ie. Moksha through death for immortality.

And also 10.17 of Taittariya Aranyaka of YajurVeda clearly declares:

सद्योजातं प्रपद्यामि सद्योजाताय वै नमो नमः।
भवे भवे नाति भवे भवस्व मां भवोद्भवाय नमः॥

I take refuge in Sadyojata. Verily I salute Sadyojata again and again. O Sadyojata, do not consign me to repeated birth; lead me beyond birth, into the state of bliss and liberation. I bow down to Him who is the source of transmigratory existence.

So, it is purely imagination of persons who think Lord Shiva can't grant Moksha.

The same fact is repeated again and again in Smriti passages like:

For eg. In Anushasana Parva of Mahabharata Devas pray Lord Shiva as:

शक्रोऽसि मरुतां देव पितृणां धर्मराजसि ।
ब्रह्मलोकश्च लोकानां गतीनां मोक्ष उच्यसे ।।

You are Shakra among the Marut Devas, Dharma among the Pitris, Brahma Loka among the Lokas and Moksha among the paths (gati).

As Lord Shiva is also known by the name Bholenath, he readily grants Moksha out of compassion of beings. One of the such place is Kashi. Thats why even the Srimad Bhagvatam tells Kashi as best among the holy places.

क्षेत्राणां चैव सर्वेषां यथा काशी अनुत्तमा ।
तथा पुराणव्रातानां श्रीमद्भागवतं द्विज ।।

Just as Kashi is the best among the holy places, in the Similar way Srimad Bhagvatam is best among the Puranas. [S.B. 12.13.17]

Srimad Bhagvatam tells Kashi as best among the holy places because it is that place where Lord Shiva readily grants Moksha. Kailash Samhita of Shiva Purana in 3.2 states:

अतस्तदेव जानीयात्प्रणव सर्वकारणम् ।
निर्विकारी मुमुक्षुर्मां निर्गुणं परमेश्वरम् ।।
एनमेव हि देवेशि सर्वमन्त्रशि रोमणिम् ।
काश्यामहं प्रदास्यामि जीवानां मुक्तिहतवे ।।

Hence he who aspires for salvation and is free from aberration shall understand the Pranava as the cause of all, and Me as the Nirguna Parameshwara. I give this crest-jewel of mantras at Kashi for the liberation of all individual souls.

So, it is clear from both Shruti and Smritis that Lord Shiva grants Moksha. Moreover in the Shiva Purana and Skandha Purana and in many other Puranas there are many stories and events where Lord Shiva provides moksha and it is not that Vyasa fakely claimed in Puranas that they attained Moksha.

2) Lord Vishnu:

I am not aware of any Vedic Samhita mantras that ask for Moksha from Lord Vishnu. Maybe there are in Brahmanas and Upanishads (one can inform me if he/she knows).

However this doesn't mean that Lord Vishnu can't provide Moksha. Moksha provider of Vedas ie. Lord Shiva himself states that Lord Vishnu is the God who grants moksha.

In the Harivamsha Parva, Lord Shiva tells to Ghantakarna:

मुक्ति प्रदाता सर्वेषां विष्णुर्वे न संशय ।।
There is no doubt that Viṣṇu is the deliverer of liberation for everyone.

Lord Shiva himself didn't gave Moksha to Ghantakarna because he used to severly hate Lord Vishnu. He used to tie bells in ear so that he may not be able to hear name of Lord Vishnu and thus his name became GhantaKarna. Due to extreme hatredness towards Lord Vishnu (Virodhi Bhakti) he became eligible to get moksha through Lord Vishnu and later Lord Krishna gives him a boon that he would attain Sayujya with Vishnu after period of present Indra is over as I discuss in my answer here.

Also in Bhagvad Gita 18.66 Lord Krishna states:

सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज |
अहं त्वां सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुच: ।।

Abandon all varieties of dharmas and simply surrender unto me alone. I shall liberate you from all sinful reactions; do not fear.

And also from various stories of Vishnu Purana, Padma Purana and Harivamsha and other Puranas we can know Lord Vishnu provided Moksha to various persons.

3) Advaita type:

And in the Advaita type moksha, even if a person reaches Parampadam of Vishnu or Sadashiva Loka of Lord Shiva, still he may not be Jeevan mukta. However he won't return from there as Lord Krishna tells in Gita " those who have attained my place do not return." and hence their Jnana is granted. However as they are still under Nama-Rupa they maynot be JeevanMukta. They still need Jnana to realize oneself as the Supreme Nirguna Brahman without any forms and attributes.

So, in Advaita God doesn't directly give moksha, or devotion doesn't directly provide moksha. God provides Jnana which will finally make one Jeevan Mukta. And Jnana can also be provided by Guru.

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Basically it is Lord Vishnu who awards moksha. Moksha and mukti are used interchangeably most of the times which basically means liberation from material mode of existence (but not in mimansa school of thought, for them moksha is attainmnet of heaven). So mukti is generally of five kinds (Sārūpya, Sālokya, Sārṣṭi, Sāmīpya, Sāyujya) of which Sāyujya mukti is equivalent to moksha where a jiva merges into the absolute. But other than this the other four are said to be obtained by a devotee in Vaikuntha, the abode of Vishnu. So awarding liberation is basically the act of Vishnu or any of His avataras as we know from many incidents from the scriptures.

However, other deities like Lord Shiva can also award liberation, but they do it with the power of Vishnu's name:

जासु नाम बल संकर कासी। देत सबहि सम गति अविनासी।। [RCM - 4.9]
-By the power of whose name Shankara of Kashi awards everyone moksha (It is said that whoever dies in Kashi, one of Lord Shiva's favorite places, gets moksha)

Practically speaking, anyone who has the ability and power to do so can award someone liberation and any of the five primary deities (pancha deva, viz. Vishnu, Shiva, Durga, Ganesha, Surya) of the sects like Vaishnava, Shaiva, Shakta, etc. and their variants can award bhukti and mukti (enjoyment and liberation). I don't know some of the gods you have mentioned but demigods or gods of heaven or upper planes of existence cannot award liberation because it is not in their power. If it were, they would have liberated themselves at the first place and attained mokhsa, the highest of all objectives.

Another thing I would like to add is that, apart from a deity awarding moksha (which basically happens as a result of worship or devotion), there exist other schools of thought like advaita which state that one can attain moksha by himself through jnana (knowledge).

  • Do you have any sources other than the Ramcharitmanas for the claim that other gods can grant Moksha using the power of Vishnu? As a fellow Vaishnava, I certainly agree that if any other god grants Moksha, it can only be through Vishnu, but it would be better if there were a more authoritative source for that. – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 30 '14 at 3:13
  • Also, on a seperate note I think it's wrong to call the Panchayatana the five primary deities of Hinduism. They're the five primary deities of the Smartha sect founded by Adi Shankaracharya, but non-Smarthas don't make the same kind of categorization. – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 30 '14 at 3:15
  • @KeshavSrinivasan sorry, i don't recall any other such verses where a god grants boon by the power of lord's name (but i believe there must be others). I know it from other sources but to give a quotation only this one came to my mind. And regarding the Pancha deva (don't know if they are Panchayatana cause the meaning seems different) you are right that these are primary deities of the different sects and hence it would be inappropriate to say them as the primary deities of Hinduism. I'll update it, thanks. – Be Happy Oct 30 '14 at 4:11
  • What you wrote is still not correct. Most Vaishnava sampradayas don't follow that categorization of five gods, and the same can be said of Shaktas. That categorization is primarily used by the Smartha sect. – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 30 '14 at 14:37
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Please feel free to edit it whatever you know as correct. As per my little knowledge I know this categorization of five gods is an important one in sakara upasana of God. Certainly you must be knowing the views of Vaishnavas more than me as I don't belong to any sampradaya. But I don't want to indulge in an argument regarding this as I know this from a reliable source. So kindly edit it as you think its correct, i am fine with it. – Be Happy Oct 31 '14 at 12:44
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Dear friends i am neither a vaishnavite nor shaivite, i am a hindu, god is one, god is genderless he/she may be shiva,vishnu,krishna,bramha,ganesh or devi etc its the choice of devotee, if vishnu only grants moksha then shaivites or shaktas are wasting their time no no..for shaivites god is shiva he can grants moksha he is supreme for shaktas god is devi/durga/parvati..

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    Welcome to Hinduism SE! You should cite sources for your answer. – The Destroyer Nov 5 '15 at 14:12
  • Downvoted. Your answer has no added value at all. – Wikash_ Jan 19 at 11:24
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I want to add the followig from Sri Sri Chandi (Chapter 1, sloka 50)

तया विसृज्यते विश्वं जगदेतच्चराचरम्।सैषा प्रसन्ना वरदा नृणां भबति मुक्तये।।

Meaning : She creates this whole static and dynamic world. When She becomes pleased, She gives boon of Mukti to men.

Devi says that She alone exists without any second (chapter 10, mantra 5).

This makes it clear again that God is one and it is He or She who gives Mukti to devotees.

But I think there is a difference between Moksha which means merging with the Supreme Self and Mukti which means liberation. There are different types of Mukti like Sarupya, Salokya, Sayujya etc. But Moksha comes from Brahmajnana alone. Jnanis want Moksha whereas some bhaktas want Mukti. Many devotees dont even want Mukti but want to be born again and again and serve God.

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Mukti, liberation can be given only by Lord Krishna and His various manifestations of Vishnu tattva or avataras that you included in the first part of your question

Lord Siva himself says mukti-pradātā sarveṣāṁ viṣṇur eva na saṁśayaḥ: “There is no doubt that Viṣṇu is the deliverer of liberation for everyone.”

Liberation is not attained just by thinking we are liberated. It happens by surrendering to Lord Krishna and serving Him in devotion as He Himself says in the Gita 7.14:

daivi hy esa guna-mayi

mama maya duratyaya

mam eva ye prapadyante

mayam etam taranti te

This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.

However Lord Siva can help us in attaining liberation by connecting us with Vishnu/Krishna as we see in the case of Pracetas in Srimad Bhagavatam 4th canto chapter 24. The same can apply to gurus and other devi-devatas.

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    I feel both Vishnu and Siva are one and the same. Both are considered to be the Supreme Beings who grant moksha. But why does most saints put Siva Namam on their forehead? – user12458 Nov 14 '14 at 16:43
  • Lord Siva is certainly not a jiva like us, but lord of jivas. At the same time he is a special expansion of Krishna but not Vishnutattva or completely Krishna. One reference can be found here: vedabase.com/en/bs/5/45 – srinivasacarya dasa Nov 14 '14 at 17:16
  • Can ONLY be given by Krishna???WRONG answer...The Kanchi Mahaperiyava once stated..Its Parameswara who only can give moksha and no other.Without knowing Siva moksha is impossible(stated in Sruti).and it is impossible to realise Him without the grace of Adi Shakti.This is an empirical truth.Thats y ALL the Yogis who seek, for nothing else than Moksha, always meditates upon Parameswara. – Rickross Nov 6 '16 at 7:46
  • No this of course not true. Downvoted. Siva can also give moksha. The other answers also refer to this. – Wikash_ Jan 19 at 11:25
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Moksha is a state which goes beyond Mind. Its inappropriate to think who gives moksha because that question itself will not arise since seer and seen is one here(Advaita). Moreover as scriptures say by remembering God at the time of death, you will get Moksha(Whichever God it may be.) But fundamental question here is, will you be able to remember God in that dying state? We dont know what our mind thinks next moment. Its so flickering. Hence we must prepare NOW itself by thinking about god in all our work. Best way is the chant holy names all the time(atleast try in Mind when you you are working in office outside).

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I think moksha is given only by all Trimurthis together. Any of them can 'grant' moksha, but for it to be given 'all' of the Trimurthis must work together.

Moksha means simply not getting reborn. Which means that, to get moksha one's body must die first and without Lord Shiva death cannot take place. In a similar way, he must not re-born, so Bramha must not create a body for him again and foremost for anyone to get moksha, their Karma must be nullified which is only done when he is living with his body and he lives only because of Lord Vishnu. We cannot say that moksha will only be given by Lord Vishnu or Lord Shiva or Lord Bramha alone.

But they combined, grant the moksha.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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Brahma (The Creator of Universe ) having rajasik Guna. It is not in the domain to give Moksha. Hence , there are no temples of Brahma barring one or two. Similarly , Lord Siva (Destroyer) having Tamasik Guna can give reward of Bhoga (Enjoyments) ,but still it takes great effort ( as it is out of their domain) to give Moksha to His devotees , like Banasur , Kannapa etc. Moreover, Lord Vishnu (Sustainer) having Satvik Guna is giver of Moksha , it takes great great effort to give Bhoga (enjoyments) to his devotees like Sudama. The comments, which are given by me as a Sadhaka , not to hurt anyone.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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