Path to Salvation of Hindus

Hindusim teaches that each of the four paths to salvation are equally valid.
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In Hinduism, the idea of salvation is called Moksha, which for Hindus means escaping the cycle of life and rebirth and entering a state of completeness. Several denominations exist within Hinduism, and while the exact path to salvation differs, the general principles remain the same and can be divided into four categories.

1 The Way of Action

The Way of Action, called Karma, requires followers to give up self-centered action and instead focus on helping others. A Hindu following this path makes many personal sacrifices in the course of his life and all of them should be linked to a greater cause than an individual's own personal desires. This path can also be followed by performing various Hindu religious duties or performing actions that benefit one's family.

2 The Way of Knowledge

The Way of Knowledge, called Jnana, is sometimes considered the opposite of the the Way of Action since the latter focuses on life in the material world while the former is about life in the spiritual world. This path leads followers to salvation through the study of Hindu teachings. Although part of this study is academic, the main purpose is to remove the delusions all human beings have about being separate individuals, and this can also be done through meditation. Through this meditation, a follower of the Way of Knowledge realizes their own identity as it relates to Brahman, the principle Hindu god.

3 The Way of Devotion

The Way of Devotion, called Bhakti, entails acts of worship as a sign of devotion to any of the Hindu gods. Since these acts can be material or spiritual, many Hindus regard the Way of Devotion as a synthesis of the Way of Action and the Way of Knowledge. This path teaches purely selfless devotion without seeking anything in return, and the individual surrenders his will to the god or goddess he worships. This is the path recommended in the Hindu sacred text, the Gita.

4 The Royal Way

Due to the difficulty of its practice, Hindus don't always include the Royal Way, called Raja, as one of the principle paths to salvation, but many Hindus still believe it is valid. The Royal Way is followed by performing physical acts and is familiar to many non-Hindu followers through the physical exercise of yoga, which followers believe can lead to salvation when practiced properly. Furthermore, some Hindus believe the Royal Way adherents are able to perform mystical feats such as shrinking down in size. These feats are only side effects of following a path that teaches leaving the material world through various physical exercises.

James Stuart began his professional writing career in 2010. He traveled through Asia, Europe, and North America, and has recently returned from Japan, where he worked as a freelance editor for several English language publications. He looks forward to using his travel experience in his writing. Stuart holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and philosophy from the University of Toronto.