As mentioned in gazillion pages, Hinduism is a way of life. It tells you about your aim in life and also how to achieve that aim. There are four stages of life, according to Hindu Dharma:
- Brahmacharya Ashrama
- Grihastha Ashrama
- Vanaprastha Ashrama
- Sannyasa Ashrama
In ancient times, most people lived more than 100 years. As such, each stage is said to last about 20 to 25 years. The second stage is said to last longer than others. But this is not a compulsion.
Brahmacharya means celibacy and is the student phase of a person. The stage is all about learning as much as you can – from teachers, parents, gurus. Students are introduced to Gurus through a ceremony known as “Upanayana”.
The stage ends at around 20-25, even 30 in the modern age, depending on the situation.
It’s the married life and it’s about fulfilling life as a social being, either wife or husband or father or mother. It’s also about implementing education to earn the livelihood for oneself and for his/her family. This is the most important stage of life too.
The stage is expected to end at the age of 50. Kama and Artha are two things to look out for at this stage.
The literal meaning of Vanaprastha is “going to the forest”. This third stage is where a person gives up his sexual life, retires and loses his / her all possessions.
For guys, he can leave everything, even his wife to go into the forest mode. But he can’t unless all his daughters are married. He is to live as a hermit.
Sannyasa means giving up, renunciation. The stage is about dedicating oneself to spirituality and finding meaning in the spiritual world. One must not think about the physical body since s/he is to practice austerity and be ready for salvation. Correctly following the stage will lead the person towards moksha, the salvation.