By Niraj Bidawatka
Liberation means freedom. Every living entity wants freedom to enjoy. But in the conditioned state, one is not free to enjoy unrestricted happiness. One is impeded by four problems namely, birth, old age, disease and death. No conditioned soul can escape these problems irrespective of the fact that he may be the most powerful or the richest person in the world. Therefore Krishna says, “janma mrtyu jara vyadhi duhkha dosa-nudarsanam” – one who considers birth, old age, disease and death as the cause of distress is a wise person. When one becomes free from these four problems of life, one is considered liberated.
There are five types of liberation, namely sāyujya, sālokya, sārupya, sāmipya and sārsti. Sāyujya mukti means merging into the impersonal Brahman effulgence. After giving up the material body, the soul does not assume another body in any of the 8.4 million species but merges into the effulgence emanating from Krishna’s transcendental body. This kind of liberation is despised by the devotees of Krishna because one cannot experience any bliss in the absence of a body.
There are four higher types of mukti, or liberation in which one is transferred to any one of the innumerable Vaikuntha planets in the spiritual sky. Each of the Vaikuntha planets is presided by a four handed form of Krishna (Vishnu-murti). Vaikuntha means free from anxiety. The material world where we are staying at the present moment is full of anxieties and that is the reason why everyone is fearful and insecure about the future. In the Vaikuntha world, one can experience a life free from all anxieties and distresses because one gets a spiritual body that is free from birth, old age, disease and death.
“I am not this body, I am the spirit soul” Our real identity is spiritual because we are parts and parcels of God, Who is the Supreme Spirit. Since we are encaged in a material body, there is incompatibility between the soul and the material body. The soul does not take birth nor does it die, whereas the material body is sure to deteriorate and ultimately die. Therefore the soul does not like changing bodies because it leads to lot of hardships. This is the reason why everyone wants to have a permanent house. When we are forced to leave our house, we feel very morose because we are attached to it and moreover, there is a lot of inconvenience to set up a new house. Similar is the case with changing bodies. We are occupiers of our respective bodies. Death means giving up one body and assuming another one. This is the cycle of birth and death. Since the soul is eternal, it does not like to change bodies. Therefore a really intelligent man wants to put a stop to this cycle of repeated birth and death and transfer himself to one of the spiritual planets, where one gets a body that is free from birth, death, old age and disease.
Thus in the four higher types of liberation mentioned above, one gets a body in the one of the Vaikuntha planets. Sālokya mukti means one gets the chance to stay on the same planet as that of the Personality of Godhead. Sārupya means one gets the same four-handed bodily form such as that of Lord Narayana. In samīpya mukti one gets a chance to stay in close association with the Lord whereas in sārsti, one gets the same opulences that Supreme Lord possesses.
Nonetheless, a pure devotee of Krishna rejects all these five types of liberations because there is no facility of serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead in any of the higher rasas (relationships) such as friendship, parental affection and amorous affairs. A devotee wants service (bhakti) and wants to go to the highest realm called Goloka Vrindavan, where the Original Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna reigns in his beautiful two-handed form playing a flute and adorned with a peacock feather.
Mukti svayam mukulitānjali sevyate ‘smān: Bilvamangala Thakur mentions in the “Krishna Karnamrita” that the muktis, for whom the jnanīs are engaged in severe austere practices, stand with folded hands at the door of a devotee of Krishna ready to serve him. But the devotee is simply not interested in them because he wants pure love of Krishna.