A few days ago, I came across an article on Buddhism primarily about "Nirvana." After I read the article, I started to wonder because "Nirvana" sounds similar to Hinduism's "Moksha." Does anyone know about possible parallels between the two concepts? Are "Moksha" and "Nirvana" essentially the same? If they are not similar, what are the differences between the two religious teachings?

The question was already asked on the Hinduism Stack Exchange Site, but it is not currently receiving any positive responses.


4 Answers 4


Moksha and Nirvana are the same in that:

  • The cycle of live, death and rebirth is broken
  • once attained, one is free from Samsara
  • It's attainable through practise
  • Meditation techniques are employed in attaining both

They differ in that:

  • Moksha tends to explained as a merger with Atman, or Brahma which Buddhist don't believe.

Their main philosophical difference is found in the wiki quote:

Nirvana, a concept common in Buddhism, is the realization that there is no self nor consciousness; while moksha, a concept common in many schools of Hinduism, is acceptance of Self, realization of liberating knowledge, the consciousness of Oneness with all existence and understanding the whole universe as the Self. Nirvana starts with the premise that there is no Self, moksha on the other hand, starts with the premise that everything is the Self; there is no consciousness in the state of nirvana, but everything is One unified consciousness in the state of moksha.


  • 2
    From a Buddhist point of view, what Hindus attain as Moksha is merely a state of Jhana(meditative absorption) and does not accomplish the following: 1.The cycle of live, death and rebirth is broken 2.Once attained, one is free from Samsara Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 19:09
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    Ok, I've answered the question in the way the religion sees itself, rather than Hinduism from a Buddhist perspective, considering I do not want to go into what is right/true/real
    – DirkM
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 22:09
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    Yes, I just commented it as additional info. Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 6:27
  • In my opinion, Moksha describes becoming one with the only thing that really exists, while Nirvana describes becoming detached and liberated from everything that doesn't really exist. The rest of the answer is inaccurate. Of course, from a Buddhist perspective, there's no such thing as "the only thing that really exists".
    – ruben2020
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 16:49
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    @SankhaKulathantille, what is the source for your statement that Buddhists consider what Hindu's regard as Moksha to be merely jhāna?
    – Adamokkha
    Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 21:20

The original answer saying that attaining personal wealth and mastery of sex is important for moksha is completely, 100% wrong and as a hindu I am extremely offended. Moksha and Nirvana are connected and the buddhist concept basically branches from the hindu concept of Moksha. Please please do not spread wrong knowledge about our religion. Moksha is a way to be one with the God and remove yourself from the cycle of rebirth. It is essentially what nirvana is.

  • 2
    Jay, you raising doubts over the points in question has served to push us towards looking for sourcing the claims (or deleting them otherwise). However, this is a Q&Q site, not a religious forum. People may make mistakes and should be open to correction, but taking offence is probably not the wisest strategy.
    – tkp
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 21:58

Enlightenment like ice cream comes in different flavors, but in the end they are all ice cream, made from milk, cream and sugar.

Examined with the intellect there are a lot of seeming differences, even within a single religion's idea of enlightenment - Bodhisattva or Arhat? Japanese Zen or Thai Theravada? Realizing the Atman or becoming a deva?

Examined with pure awareness where one loses the egotic sense of self, there is no difference, all paths lead here - but this is rarely said because it is impossible to explain this view in words.

‘Emptiness’, after all, is not an idea to be grasped: it is a provocation, a literal insult to the intelligence

In any case in his discourse on Simsappa leaves the Buddha says such questions are not answered by him, because they don't solve the problem of suffering.

The personal enlightenment model of Buddhism says the Arhat is liberated from further becoming, but this doesn't mean annihilation, neither is it further existence. Arhats and Buddhas are said to guide others to enlightenment after their bodily death too by appearing in dreams and visions of aspirants, and hence the existence of Reliquaries to them.

The Tatagatha (i.e. Buddha) never answers this question: SN 44.6 - Does the Tathagata exist after death?.

The Bodhisattva belief is that personal enlightenment is not possible until all beings are liberated.

See Arahants, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

These two ideals may appear contradictory, but they are all compatible and become indistinct eventually.

So too with Hinduism vs Buddhism.

Both Buddhism and Hinduism agree that there is no end to the cycle of life per se, the universe or multiverse is created and destroyed perpetually despite all the many Arhats and Bodhisattvas, because they don't leave the system. See Aggañña Sutta

Hindus are not a single people, there are numerous ideas that all make one Hindu, since it is a Western classification of religion in the Indian subcontinent. Following this "dharmic" ideal, in Indian law there are no Buddhists or Jains in the Constitution, there are only those who follow Indian religions (Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, various kinds of animistic and vedic traditions commonly called Hindus) all referred to as Hindus (of India), and non Indian religions such as Christianity.

In fact, the Buddha is seen by many Hindus as an avatar of Vishnu.

Buddha statues sit side by side with Hindu gods in prayer rooms in homes in India, and Ganesha jostles with Buddha in Thailand, a Buddhist country.

In any event, Hinduism and Buddhism are not an Orthodoxy but an Orthopraxy.

There is no correct belief, only correct action.

There is no Hindu or Buddhist Pope who can lay down the law. Popularly though, it is common for Buddhists to believe Hindus are orthodox with rites and rituals.

Arhats and Bodhisattvas are not at war with creation, they are a part of creation, just as much as Samsara. There can be no left side without the right side, there can be no Nirvana without Samsara.

The Zen movement in Japan is especially fascinated with this, a radical immersion in samsara because it is no different from Nirvana - It becomes less true to say that ‘an individual has experiences’ than that ‘experience has individuals’.

To say there is enlightenment is a lie, but to say there is no enlightenment is a bigger lie.


Concept of Moksha is more analogues to birth in a higher plain of existence as per Buddhist Cosmology. E.g. merge with God. Nirvana is to get out of the cycle of birth. The Moksha concept is that you achive the same when you merge with god.

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