The Four Stages of Life According to Hinduism

  • 27 May 2019

Hinduism divides a person's life into four stages or Ashramas

According to Hinduism, there are four stages (Ashrama) that most people will go through in life. Each stage, except for the second one, lasts approximately 20 years although that is not a set rule. The Ashramas system is one facet of the Dharma concept in Hinduism. It is a mere guideline for Hindus and is not compulsory to follow, even for the priests.

1. Brahmacharya Asrama:

Brahmacharya means student and the stage is seen as the foundation of a person' life. Starting at the age of eight and ending at approximately 20 to 25 years of age, it is the time to gain knowledge and wisdom through a guru. This stage is specifically for boys and he is to remain celibate during this stage. The student is introduced to his Guru through a ceremony called "Upanayana".

2. Grihastha Asrama:

Grihastha means being occupied with family. This is the second stage and is the longest of them all, which ends approximately at 50 years of age. During this time, the person has to support their family by using the skills he acquired from the guru. This is the stage where a person experiences the most intense physical, sexual, emotional, occupational, social and material attachments in their life.

3. Vanaprastha Asrama:

Vanaprastha is the retired life and is the third stage of life and is when a person hands over the household responsibilities to the next generation and takes on an advisory role. They will gradually retire from the world and focus on their spiritual liberation (Moksha). A person can't enter this stage unless their offspring are stable in life. The daughters should be married off and the sons earning their own money. This ensures that the person completes all their parental duties.

4. Sannyasa-Asrama:

Sannyasa means renounced life. This is the last stage of life and starts around 72 years of age but this is not fixed. A person is detached from the material life and lives an ascetic life instead. They would focus on attaining moksha (spiritual liberation) and if properly followed, is released from cycle of rebirth.

Photo Credit: brewminate, Godhead, Twitter & AmpersandTravel

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