Moksa and Morality

  • P. K. Mohapatra


As per a general strand of Indian ethics, with the attainment of moksa, morality becomes unnecessary, presumably because moksa happens only once, and so there is no need for morality to lead to moksa. But such a theory would be a clear threat to morality; we argue against it as being counterintuitive. We reinterpret moksa not as transcending morality but as consummating it by incorporating morality within itself. We try to show that treating morality as means to moksa cannot work. It cannot work either in the case of videhamukti or in the case of jivanmukti. In videhamukti, the obvious absence of physical continuity makes identity of the person highly dubious, and we cannot know if an action is conducive to moksa prapti and hence is a morally right action; and in both videhamukti and jivanmukti, since liability to be reborn is terminated, no one [not certainly an ordinary person who matters for ethics] can know in principle if an action is morally right. The notion of moral rightness thus becomes ambivalent and so inapplicable in practice.

So we reinterpret dharma as precondition of moksa on the ground that a mumuksu has to lead a long rigorous moral life in order to be eligible for moksaprapti. Morality thus cannot be dispensable; the supposed means here becomes indispensable to the end, since the means here happens to be a value-carrying means and determines the value of the end. Morality makes moksa is not only a higher value but a higher moral value.


Videhamukti Value-carrying means Dharma as precondition of moksa Personal vs moral value Normatively internal relation moksa as higher moral value Moksa as personal value 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. K. Mohapatra
    • 1
  1. 1.Former Professor of PhilosophyUtkal UniversityBhubaneswarIndia

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