Subhamoy's Hinduism Blog
By Subhamoy Das, About.com Guide to Hinduism
The Four Stages of Life
Saturday April 3, 2010
Have you tried dividing the years of your life into phases and categories? If you have, you'll be struck by a certain dominant theme that runs through these stages in life. Many a time you may have felt like being at the crossroads, looking for a guide that will tell you what to do next. And you might have wondered, what's the right thing to do at these stages in life, and what's the next step to take. Fortunately, Hinduism has a set of answers to these questions. While Shakespeare divided life into "seven ages", in Hinduism, human life is believed to comprise four stages or "ashramas":
* The First Ashrama - "Brahmacharya" or the Student Stage
* The Second Ashrama - "Grihastha" or the Householder Stage
* The Third Ashrama - "Vanaprastha" or the Hermit Stage
* The Fourth Ashrama - "Sannyasa" or the Wandering Ascetic Stage
This system of ashramas is believed to be prevalent since the 5th century BCE in Hindu society. However, clearly these stages of life have always been viewed more as 'ideals' than as common practice. Which of the four stages of life would you reject completely?
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