Stages of life – ‘Ashramas’ are very popular in Hindu texts as every human being in this world have to comprise four stages of life.
According to Hinduism every person must go ideally through each of these stages –
The first stage of Ashrama is “Brahmacharya”
Brahmacharya is commonly known as the student stage. This is the period of time for formal education which last long till age of 25. In Brahmacharya stage, the student chooses his guru and leave his home to stay with him to attain spiritual and practical knowledge.
In this period student must learn his two duties –
- The first one is to learn the skills of his life
- The second is to practice unwavering devotion to his teachers
During this the person is called a Brahmachari as he is prepares for his future profession.
The Second Stage “Grihastha”
This means a Householder, in this stage person learn how to take responsibility of his own family, which begins at marriage. In this stage the person should mold himself to artha (gratification), sex (kama) and social and cosmic norms.
This stage of ashrama lasts till the age of 50. In Hindu texts Manu, it is written that when a person begins to get old, started having skin wrinkles and grey hair, he should leave his home and go out into the forest. But people never surpass the second stage Grihastha that it lasts a lifetime.
The Third Stage “Vanaprastha”
In this stage the person completes his Grihastha stage, the person’s duty as a householder comes to an end. Now he has grandchildren and his own children grown and halfly attain the Grihastha stage. In vanaprastha stage, person should retire from all the pleasure, desires and professional plus social life. In doing this he later on have to leave his home and pursue towards the forest hut where he can lean to the prayers till his last breath.
The person is allowed to take his spouse along to the forest but maintains little contact to other family members. In third stage as the elders of the community, teaching dharma to the visitors is the last job. This kind of life is very harsh and cruel that no doubt it comes nearly to the end now.
The Fourth Stage “Sannyasa”
In this stage the person realized the dharma, and suppose to devote himself to the God. Now as he become a sannyasi he has no home, no duties, no attachment. He leaves his all the duties, desires, fears, hopes and responsibilities behind to merged with God. He has gained the moksha, get release from the cycle of birth and death. Now his heir will perform the funeral ceremony when he dies.
Ashrama has many crucial pieces to teach life cycle to an individual. This cycle is mainly focused on dharma. Hindu dharma is the concept of moral rightness and it’s been practiced, taught and realized in the four ashrama of Hindu life.
Vedic science states that if the person surpasses all these stages of life then he will get a place in heaven till his next carnation.