In Amrutam`s previous, blog posts we have talked about Purusharthas- the four goals of life according to Hindu Philosophy.
Similarly, there are four stages of Life as per Hindu Philosophy. These are known as the Ashramas.
The word Ashrama literally means a place for resting or stopping by. If you are from India or have visited India, you would have noticed so many ashrams. Especially, if you are in one of the Holy Cities like Haridwar or Rishikesh.
The Sanskrit root of the word “Ashram” is shram which means to exert one self.
“The word, therefore, signifies a halt, a stoppage on a stage in the journey of life just for the sake of rest in a sense in order to prepare oneself for the further journey. The Ashramas then are to be regarded as resting place during one’s journey on the way to final liberation which is the final aim of life.”
Moksha, as we learned in Amrutam`s one of the early blog is the ultimate goal of life- to be at peace with the Brahmana, the universe.
Here are the 4 Stages of the Ashrama System:
#1. Brahmancharya Ashrama
The Brahmancharya stage in one`s life refers to the stage of being a student, a learner. The stage of Brahmancharya is governed by discipline, celibacy and respect and service for the Guru.
In Earlier days, students or Brahmancharis used to reside in Gurukuls with their Gurus.
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#2. Grihastha Ashrama
The Girhastha Ashrama, the household stage in one`s life comes after completion of the Brahmancharya stage. Grihastha means household.
The Grihastha Ashrama embarks the beginning of a youth`s life major transformational stage where they are supposed to take on household duties.
Thus, with the Grihastha Ashrama begins the life of a Householder.
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#3. Vanasprastha Ashrama
This stage, the Vanasprastha Ashrama entails a simplistic and minimalistic lifestyle. A person enters the Vanasprastha Ashrama after completion of their household duties, the Grihastha Ashrama.
Van means forest in Hindi, this stage requires the individual to reside in a forest. Eat only vegetables and fruits, and sacrifice meat. They are expected to practice meditation, to lead themselves to the Moksha stage.
During the Vanasprastha Stage, the social associations of an individual come to an end.
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#4. Sanyasa Ashrama
After the Vanasprastha stage comes the Sanyasa stage. The Sanyasa Ashrama symbolizes isolation and the individual in this stage cut off all their social ties from the world. During this stage, the individual engages themselves in continuous meditation to achieve final liberation from the ties of social customs and the universe, to achieve moksha.
The individual during this stage is indifferent towards all and everything around him, engaging in deep meditation waiting and desiring liberation of their soul from the body.
The Asharama system is a way of social training for individuals to achieve their ultimate end- to attain moksha.
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