Five kinds of Liberation!
Generally people think liberation is of only one type i.e, merging into brahmajyothi or effulgence of the Supreme Lord. But the scriptures say that there are five kinds of liberations one can get. Srimad Bhagavatham describes these five kinds of liberations.
sarupyaikatvam apy uta
diyamanam na grhnanti
vina mat-sevanam janah (SB 3.29.13).
A pure devotee does not accept any kind of liberation — salokya, sarsti, samipya, sayujya or ekatva — even though they are offered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Let’s look into each one of them in more detail.
ekatvam/sayujya–oneness with Supreme Lord or merging to effulgence of the Supreme Lord. Here one thing to note is that, when one merges into brahma jyothi or effulgence of the Supreme Lord, he doesn’t loose his identity or doesn’t become Supreme Lord. The living entity may feel that he has become one with Supreme Lord but he can never become one. Supreme Lord is always Supreme Lord and jiva is always jiva. This is stated in Bhagavad Gita,
prakrti-sthani karsati (Gita 15.7).
“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.”
Here, the word sanatana is important. Here, Krishna doesn’t say temporarily we are jivas, but eternally we are parts and parcels of Krishna forever. When the demons are killed by Krishna, they get this kind of liberation. A devotee doesn’t want this type of liberation. He wants rather actively engage in Krishna’s service. “”A pure devotee does not like even to hear about sayujya-mukti, which inspires him with fear and hatred. Indeed, the pure devotee would rather go to hell than merge into the effulgence of the Lord.”(cc Madhya 6.268)
salokya–living on the same planet as the Supreme Lord. There are innumerable vaikuntha planets and some living entities want to live on them then Krishna provides this type of liberation to them.
sarsti–the opulence of living entity is equal to the Supreme Lord. But, it doesn’t mean living entity becomes equal to Krishna. A living entity can never become Supreme Lord.
samipya–be a personal associate of Krishna or Vishnu. Like, Arjuna is always a friend of Krishna.
sarupya–look like Vishnu or in four handed form. Again, that doesnt mean, one becomes Vishnu. “When a person is liberated in the sarupya form of liberation, having a spiritual form exactly like Vishnu, it is not possible for him to relish the relationship of Krishna’s personal associates in their exchanges of mellows. The devotees of Krishna, however, in their loving relationships with Krishna, sometimes forget their own identities; sometimes they think themselves one with Krishna and yet relish still greater transcendental mellow in that way.”(CC Adi 6.104 purport)
“Devotees, Vaishnavas, attain the liberations of sarupya, salokya, sarsti and samipya, whereas the Mayavadis are supposed to attain the liberation known as sayujya. Sayujya-mukti, however, is not very secure, whereas sarupya-mukti, salokya-mukti, sarsti-mukti and samipya-mukti are most certain.” (SB 7.5.35 purport ). One thing to note is that a pure devotee doesn’t hanker for these liberations. He simply wants to serve the Supreme Lord in a transcendental relationship. That’s his highest pleasure!