View Full Version : the ashramas
24 June 2010, 06:17 AM
i know that there are 4 ashramas:brahmacharya,grihasta,vanaprastha and sanyasa.
the question is,based on what should person move to the next ashramas.is it age or any other 'anubhuti'?this i ask becoz i am at present in none of these ashramas and i would want to tale up brahmacharya and then if possible bypass grihastha.when it comes to vanaprastha,i get a doubt.how effective are these in these times.it'd be a joke to try and find a forest or a cliff....still i dont think i can bypass grihasta coz of a gita verse which states,giving up karma fearing that is troublesome is rajasic and that type of tyaga wont bear fruit.
that is the main question,but i am not in brahmacharya itself and i am looking up for tips and advices.is there any kind of prerequisites that i've to accomplish.i figure asangha is a good option,any views/comments?
24 June 2010, 07:03 AM
In my variation of SD, traditionally the ashramas switch around every 24 years, so age 24, 48, and then 72. But there is much variance depending on the individual, and in today's changing times the variance is greater from individual to individual. Also, change is not that abrupt (usually).
You were born into brahmacarya stage, so I don't understand the last part, unless you are saying you are now sexually active, despite not being a grihastra.
24 June 2010, 08:04 AM
The ashrams are total lifetime divided into four parts. So, it goes by age.
However, it is a recommendation but can vary from person to person. Some great souls may not go through Grihastha ashram and Vanaprashtha Ashramas at all.
Vanaprashtha Ashram is for getting spiritual knowledge and getting ready for sannyaas. So, it can be done even without going to jungle.
24 June 2010, 08:51 AM
Although Hindus took to their Ashramas by age traditionally, there are other indicators, which, for the first two Ashramas are readily found:
• A person enters the brahmachArya Ashrama when he/she gets into an educational institution (gurukulam traditionally), typically in an early age, which was seven (on upanayanam) traditionally. The period of learning was typically 14 years in the ancient days.
The concept of bachelorhood for effective study is present in all religions and cultures. The degrees of the humanities obtainable by college education, for example, are called B.A. (Bachelor of Arts), B.Sc. etc.
• A person enters the gRuhasthAshrama on getting married. The dharma of this Ahsrama is the bliss of marital life with its aim to get children (so the waiting jIvas can take birth) and take good care of the family. When in gRuhasthAshrama, a person attempts to excel in the first three of the four puruShArthas--viz. dharma, artha, kAma.
• The Ashrama of vAnaprastha was traditionally, of course, leading an ascetic life in the woods, giving up the family ties and turning the mind into the path of nivRtti, with the goal of mokSha. The life in the woods was prescribed because of the ensuing harmony with nature that removes fear and disciplines a person to only using/cooking food obtained in nature and be self-reliant in other ways of life.
It is possible to observe the stage of vAnaprastha in these days, within the confines of one's home. It could even be better, because a person trains himself/herself to love his kith and kin in this stage without any attachment or possessiveness. An old man or woman who is constantly in niyama and japa with a rosary on hand, who fasts on more occasions than he/she takes food, tells spiritual stories to young children, and unattachedly guides other family members--is not an uncommon sight in Hindu families even today. Such a person is a vAnaprastha.
• The saMnyAsa Ashrama is only for matured souls in this age of Kali, where he/she quits the family and takes up a life of a mendicant, which enables complete control over the ego. Most people have a taste of this Ashrama when they are able to have constant and consistent sessions of dhyAna--meditation.
Although the gRuhasthAshrama is ordained for everyone, a person may choose to be a bachelor and enter the stage of vAnaprastha directly. Such a bachelor spends his/her time in shravaNa-manana-nididhyAsana and satsangha with an aim towards mokSha (not the life in svarga--heavens).
24 June 2010, 11:23 AM
If I may I would like to contribute the following to the conversation.
āśrama - is rooted (√) in this word śram - to make effort , exert one's self ; to overcome , conquer , subdue, is one defintiion. Another definition of śram will be offered in a second.
The prefeix of this word āś is 'to reach or obtain'. Yet an interesting view is the following: ā+śrama - in this definition a= not + śrama , now being defined as 'becoming weay, or tired' . Hense āśrama is not becoming weary or tired . But why so?
At these prescribed halting places one is doing the proper actions at the proper time in one's life which does not make one weary i.e. it energizes one's being to be acting according to one's position in life.
This word in aggregate āśrama, is considered a halting place and most associated with the 4 stages of life:
brahmacārin , student of the veda - yet means much much more.
gṛhastha , we know as the householder - this halting place is considered the cornerstone of society according to the mahābhārata
vānaprastha , or forest dweller
saṃnyāsin , one that renounces worldly activities sometimes called bhikṣu - a religious mendicant who subsists entirely on alms Yet one view that is not often entertained is āś +rama . We have defined āś as 'to reach or obtain' + rama which is pleasing, delighting , rejoicing . Now we have āś + rama = to reaching delight.
As you would expect there is deeper significance. As rama is another way of saying rāma. Still meaning delight, yet implying rāmacandra or śrī rāmaḥ - a form of śrī viṣṇu. Hence the 4 stages in life become the 4 steps to the Divine.
24 June 2010, 02:39 PM
Namaste amith vikram,
There is no set age for each ashramas. Although, like Eastern Mindji said, they usually go around about every 24 years. I've also heard that grihasta can last from 25-55ish. Another guide to ending the grihasta stage is once your hair starts graying and your skin begins wrinkling, or when you become a grandfather. Not all stages have to be the same exact amount of time. I would guess for most people the grihasta ashrama would be the longest and the vanaprastha ashrama would be the shortest, since it is really just getting ready and preparing for the sanyasa ashrama. Again, it varies from person to person. Some people may not see the sanyasa ashrama as being practical, so they may just live out the vanaprastha ashrama. As saidevoji said, it is possible to observe the vanaprastha stage in the confines of one's home.
What exactly do you mean that you are not currently present in any ashrama? Are you finished pursuing an education but you are currently unemployed? But you say that you want to take up brahmacharya so I'm not sure what you mean.
Jai Sri Krishna
25 June 2010, 02:00 AM
thank you for your responses.first let me clarify this.i am not in any ashrama,although i should've been in brahmacharya.that's becoz i am not able to control my thoughts about you know what.there is no bhava shuddhi in me.the shastras says this kind of person is equvivalent to a pashu who cant control his indriyas.but good thing is that,i'm trying.so can you please tell me the secret of brahmacharya,if any?
this apart,it was really interesting to read all the answers and should i conclude that the age is the factor?
another interesting thing that saidevoji mentioned about vanaprasthashram,that may be true for people of this age.
25 June 2010, 08:27 AM
i am not in any ashrama,although i should've been in brahmacharya.that's becoz i am not able to control my thoughts about you know what.there is no bhava shuddhi in me.the shastras says this kind of person is equvivalent to a pashu who cant control his indriyas.but good thing is that,i'm trying.so can you please tell me the secret of brahmacharya,if any?
You shouldn't carry any feeling of guilt. This is quite common in today's social environment. And it is not correct to suppress these desires by force as it can lead to psychosomatic problems. You may try to avoid such thoughts and actions as much as you can ... but don't be ashamed if it "happens". Lord Krishna says that "One should not desire for repeat of something good that has happened and one should not brood over if something that we don't like comes to us".
Brahmacharya at your age in today's environment is an extremely difficult proposition. To make it naturally happen, you must fill the gap which will be created in your life by stopping the mind-waves of sexual thoughts. This comes easily by Pratyahara (withdrawing the life-force/prana from sense organs). Pratyahara comes through meditation and to be successful in meditation, you need grace of a Sat-Guru.
This can also be attained by intense devotion to God and continually fixing your mind on God & prayers. You must have friends with sattvik vicharas otherwise their vibrations would affect your thoughts.
What I am saying that any habit developed over several lifetimes can be erased only by replacing it with another habit which is equally enjoyable to you. You can't create a vacuum and be successful. It is next to impossible.
25 June 2010, 10:42 AM
One secret is...time. The more time you can put between yourself and those actions or thoughts the stronger you become.
Devotee is so right....when you have this thought or action that you are trying to stop. Immediately forget it, don't be ashamed...don't think about it again at all. Just move forward with fresh resolve.
It is difficult to wrangle the animal into submission, but once it's there...much easier. Just stay away from things which would trigger it's return.
You can do it!<3
26 June 2010, 09:26 PM
well that's definitely something i haven't tried yet,pratyahara and thankfully i've included some of my fav. prayers in my daily routine.thanks for the delightful post and hopefully naya,i'll be able to do it.
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