Language of Liberation in Hinduism

Hinduism has developed specific words in Sanskrit to describe and classify mystical states. This article looks at how the upanishads and yoga define various mystical experiences. When one is in a mystical state, one experiences transcendence. In this state, one feels that one is a part of an experience that is greater than one’s normal mental states. Such experiences symbolize one’s relationship with one’s divine inner nature.

One can attain enlightenment by meditating and looking inward. Worldly attachments only lead to disillusionment and dissatisfaction. Therefore, to experience the divine, one should find stillness within. Meditation can create a feeling of unity in the meditator.

The Upanishads

Vedanta was developed to understand and interpret the hoary upanishads. Vedanta says that one can attain liberation by finding one’s true self, which is immortal and free of worldly taints. When one realizes the self, one understands one’s divine inner nature. In this state, one sees the unity of all things. The Mandukya upanishad describes a state called “turiya”, which can be reached by deep meditation. This experience is equated with enlightenment as it is a transcendental state.


There are various paths in yoga to reach a state of inner stillness. The yoga sutras explain about a transcendent state called “samadhi”, which one can attain through intense yoga practice. Samadhi can be translated as “unmoving mind”. It is a type of trance, in which state one intuitively realizes universal oneness.

Two States of Samadhi

One is savikalpa samadhi, in which state thought is not totally obliterated. One stills feels that the world is different from oneself. The more advanced state is nirvikalpa samadhi, in which all distinction is extinguished. One feels great bliss as one experiences universal oneness.

These mystical states are the ladders to attain liberation. When one is liberated, one is freed from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Therefore, moksha (release) is the primary spiritual aim of Hindus.

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