4.1.3 Desire for Freedom – Mumukshutvam

This sub-module is based on the teachings of Swami Viditatmananda and Swami Paramarthananda.
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The 3rd qualification is “Desire for freedom” or Mumukshutvam. In this sub-module we’ll discuss:

1. What is Mumukshutvam?

2. Who is a seeker of freedom?

3. Why the desire for freedom cannot be created but arises on its own?

4. Why, unlike other desires, the desire for freedom focuses the mind upon the Self?

5. Why the desire for freedom is listed as a qualification?

What is Mumukshutvam?

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The burning desire for freedom (Moksha) from the problems caused by depending on the world is called Mumukshutvam in Sanskrit.

Dependence on the world causes a number of psychological problems. The biggest problem is insecurity. I am worried that whatever I am dependent on, whatever I am attached to.. I may lose it.

That’s why many relationships tend to be very insecure. I’m constantly worried of rejection from my partner. I want the person I love, to love me always.

This feeling of insecurity manifests as various emotional problems like worry, fear, frustration, disappointment, anger and hatred. All psychological problems are caused by depending on the undependable, by relying on the unreliable.


It is wrong to blame the world for my psychological problems. The world was not created to give me permanent happiness.

I suffer because I have wrong expectations from the world.

The problems caused by wrong expectations or dependence is called Samsara. Mumukshutvam means the burning desire to be free of this Samsara.

A person without a desire to be free, will keep chasing objects in the world and be forever stuck in the whirlpool of Samsara.

The Mumukshu

The person with a burning desire for freedom or liberation (Moksha) is called a Mumukshu in Sanskrit. Moksha is the predominant desire in his or her life. So all other desires and pursuits are subservient to this primary desire.

This is not just any desire. My whole mind is full of desires, and if freedom is one of them, then it may get some attention now and then.

But if I have discrimination (Viveka), freedom (Moksha) becomes my predominant desire. A Mumukshu never undertakes a pursuit which is opposed to Moksha.

As in the last sub-module, we would like to remind that “desires” mentioned here are to be read as “binding desires”. Only binding desires agitate the mind and prevent Self-Inquiry. Non-binding desires are not an obstacle on the path to Self-Realization.

Mumukshutvam Cannot Be Created

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Mumukshutvam is not something that we can cultivate, unlike the other qualifications. We can practice discrimination and cultivate dispassion, but desire is not something that we can command.

Desire arises; one cannot will to have a given kind of desire. I cannot decide that I will have a particular desire after five minutes. We do not have freedom in entertaining desire.

When we are asked to do something, we can do it only if we have the freedom to do that thing. For example, an injunction such as “Don’t drink alcohol” is understandable because we have the freedom or option not to drink.

But instructions such as, “Don’t breathe”, or “Don’t be angry”, cannot be followed because we do not have the freedom not to breathe or not to be angry. These are not things that are under our control so that we are free not to do them.

Similarly, we cannot love a person on command; love has to arise spontaneously. We can help or serve a person on command, but not love them. We don’t have freedom in such matters; they simply have to happen.

Similarly, we cannot will a desire; it is that which arises in our minds and has to happen.

Different people respond differently to the same situation; their response depends upon the disposition of their minds.

To a person with a certain disposition, certain questions arise: What is the purpose of this life? What am I doing here? Why am I born? What am I seeking? These questions occur only in certain minds, not in every mind.

In most people, the questions that arise are: Where do I get the next meal? What am I going to cook next? What am I going to do this weekend? What movie am I going to watch tonight? When is the next football game?

Thus, our response towards life depends upon the frame of mind we enjoy. We cannot determine our response or desire; it will arise automatically in a given frame of mind.

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Mumukshutvam Means The Primary Desire Is Freedom

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Only when the desire for freedom becomes the sole or the predominant desire is the individual best qualified for Self-Knowledge. Mumukshutvam indicates that the predominant desire in the mind is freedom, nothing else.

Swami Dayananda liked to give the example of a fish pond in which the big fish eat the smaller fish and are, in turn, eaten by even bigger fish. Ultimately, only one fish, the biggest, is left.

Similarly, a strong desire eats a lesser desire and is, in turn, consumed by a stronger desire. Ultimately, only the strongest desire remains: Mumukshutvam or the desire for freedom.

The insight that it is freedom I am seeking every moment arises automatically. Behind every desire is the desire for freedom. It is the desire for freedom that alone expresses itself through various desires and then becomes the only desire.

It is the culmination of maturity to realize that what we are seeking is freedom or Moksha. Mumukshutvam is thus a yearning or intense desire for freedom.

The Desire For Freedom Keeps The Mind Focused On The Self

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Generally, a binding desire is an expression of ignorance; it shows a certain lack or wanting. When there is a binding desire in the mind, the mind is focused upon the object of desire rather than upon the Self.

If Mumukshutvam is also a desire, how can knowledge take place? Won’t this desire also keep the mind away from the Self?

The desire for Moksha, however, is the desire for the very Self; it is a desire for the knowledge of the Self and is thus the one desire that in fact keeps the mind focused upon the Self.

While every other desire keeps the mind focused elsewhere, Mumukshutvam or the desire for Moksha is the one desire that focuses the mind upon the Self.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad describes a Mumukshu (a seeker of Moksha) as he who is without desires, who is free from desires, the objects of whose desire have been attained, and to whom all objects of desire are but the Self.

Thus, Mumukshutvam amounts to a desire for the Self that culminates in the knowledge of the Self, which culminates in freedom from all desire.

This is the only desire that can be fulfilled. In life, we cannot truly fulfill any desire although we may entertain various desires. Behind all desires is really the desire for freedom and nothing we can do can give us that freedom; therefore, in reality, no other desire but Mumukshutvam can ever be fulfilled.

The desire for freedom can be fulfilled because freedom is my very nature. Even the desire for freedom would be an obstacle if freedom were something to be acquired.

Since the Self is already free, this desire for freedom can be fulfilled. Mumukshutvam, therefore, is a desire for the attainment of that which is already attained.

It is like the desire of the tenth man to know the tenth man; his desire can be fulfilled because he is himself the tenth man.

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Why Is Mumukshutvam Listed As A Qualification?

If Mumukshutvam is there in me, and I am lacking in any other qualifications, I’ll put the effort to gain the other qualifications.

It’s like, you have a strong desire to get a Ph.D. That is your goal. So you equip yourself with all the things to get the Ph.D. You’ll do everything necessary to qualify yourself to get that Ph.D.

So, it’s the same with Mumukshutvam. When you have Mumukshutvam, you already have Viveka (Discrimination). And you’ll do everything possible to gain the other qualifications.


1. The burning desire for freedom or Moksha is called Mumukshutvam, and a person with Mumukshutvam is called a Mumukshu. For a Mumukshu, the desire for freedom is his or her predominant desire in life.
2. Unlike the other qualifications, desire for freedom cannot be created; it arises on its own based on the disposition of a person’s mind.
3. Behind every desire is the desire for freedom. It is desire for freedom that alone expresses itself through various desires. It is a sign of maturity when we finally realize that what we are truly seeking is freedom or Moksha.
4. Unlike other worldly desires, the desire for freedom focuses the mind on the Self. And when we have this burning desire, we will do everything possible to get qualified and gain Self-Knowledge.