Human Bondage in Hinduism

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Within Hinduism there are two schools of philosophy which attentively attend to the problem of human bondage.  These are those who subscribe to the theories of the Upanisads and the followers of the Yogasutras.  The human bondage referred to is a confinement to the human condition and the chains of consciousness.  According to the Upanisadic literature, karma ties one to Samsara, while in the Yogasutras cittavrtti's bind one to prakrti.  Consequentially, moksa (liberation) and its requirements are conceived of differently as well.

The Upanisads and other sramana philosophies placed a new emphasis upon bondage in Samsara.  External ritual action (karma) could now be internalized so a person could escape the trappings of a worldly and societal lifestyle.  Society and its forced continuation of external karma creates a self-concept and ego (ahamkara), which reinforces the illusion of duality.  To withdraw to the wilderness removes these problems, giving time and space to realize the deepest jnana, that the personal atman and universal Brahman are identical.  The recognition of non-duality leads to a release from the cycle of death and rebirth.  Here, moksa is liberation from Samsara.

Patanjali's Yogasutras were a codification of pre-existing ideas based on the atheistic, metaphysical philosophy of the Sankhya school.  This school of "enumeration" dualistically classifies two constituents of reality.  Purusha (pure consciousness) and prakrti (the material world).  A student of the Yogasutras also renounces society due to its role in the creation of samskaras (mental formations).  These samskaras are karmic seeds, leading to karmic action which continue the samsaric bondage of the mind to prakrti.  To cease making mental formations is to stop cittavrtti, or the turning of the mind.  This is done through the practice of Yoga, which is to withdraw the senses and yoke oneself to purusha.  Eventually the practitioner pierces through the decreasing materiality of prakrti and ahamkara and fully establishes himself as the witness or observer.  This witnessing is the pure consciousness of purusha, a complete shift and liberation from the material world into moksa.

The Upanisadic thinkers took a non-dual stance, believing atman and Brahman, or each soul and god, are one.  The students of the Yogasutras felt that consciousness and physicality were fundamentally different.  Respectively, to recognize and establish oneself as Brahman or purusha is moksa, or liberation from the chains of human bondage.

 

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Jared Hobbs has 1 articles online

For more information on human bondage in Hinduism, such as the role of karma and dharma, please visit Jared B. Hobbs at his blog Meditations and become a Scholar of Consciousness!

 

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Human Bondage in Hinduism

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This article was published on 2010/12/30
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