Ashrama (stage)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ashrama redirects here. See Ashram (disambiguation) for other uses.

An Ashrama (āśrama) in Hinduism is one of four stages in an age-based social system as laid out in the Puranas, Manu Smriti and later Classical Sanskrit texts.

The Ashram system[edit]

Under the Ashram system, the human life was divided into four periods. The goal of each period was the ideal fulfillment of each of the four consecutive stages of life.[1][2]

The Ashram system
Ashram or stage Age (years)[3] Description[1][2][4][5] Rituals of transition
(student life)
Till 24 The male child would live with his family till the age of 5. He would then be sent to a Gurukul (house of the guru) and typically would live with a Guru (teacher), acquiring knowledge of science, philosophy, scriptures and logic, practicing self-discipline and evangelicalism, learning to live a life of dharma (righteousness). Upanayana at entry.
(household life)
24-48 The ideal householder life is spent in enjoying family life, carrying out one's duties to family and society, and gainful labor. The man in this ashram has to shoulder responsibilities of the other three ashrams. Samavartana at entry. Other rituals of Hindu marriage later.
(retired life)
48-72 After the completion of one's householder duties, one gradually withdraws from the world, freely shares wisdom with others, and prepares for the complete renunciation of the final stage.
(renounced life)
72-demise One completely withdraws from the world and starts spiritual pursuits, the seeking of moksha (freedom from the cycle of rebirth), and practicing meditation to that end.

The Ashram system is believed by the Hindus to lead to a fulfillment of the four aims of life namely, Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (pleasure), and Moksha (liberation).

stages of life[citation needed]
Period Ashrama
(stages of
dutiful life)
(aims of life)
Saisava 0–2 years No moral codes during this period
Balya 3–12 years Brahmacharya Dharma Vidyarambha, Learning of alphabet, arithmetic, basic education
(13 - 19)
Kaishora 13–15 years Brahmacharya Dharma and Moksha
Tarunya 16–19 years Brahmacharya Dharma and Moksha
(20 - 59)
20–29 years Brahmacharya or Grihastha Dharma, Artha and Moksha
30–59 years Grihastha Dharma, Artha and Kama and Moksha
(60+ )
60–79 years Vanaprastha Dharma and Moksha
80+ years Sanyasa Dharma and Moksha

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Chakkarath, Pradeep (2005), p. 39
  2. ^ a b Rama, p. 467.
  3. ^ J. Donald Walters (1998), The Hindu Way of Awakening: Its Revelation, Its Symbols, an Essential View of Religion, Crystal Clarity Publishers, pp. 154–, ISBN 978-1-56589-745-8, retrieved 12 July 2013 
  4. ^ Kriyananda, p. 154.
  5. ^ Ashrama, Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia


  • Chakkarath, P. (2005). What can Western psychology learn from indigenous psychologies? Lessons from Hindu psychology. In W. Friedlmeier, P. Chakkarath, & B. Schwarz (Eds.), Culture and human development: The importance of cross-cultural research to the social sciences (pp. 31-51). New York: Psychology Press.
  • Kriyananda, Swami (1998), The Hindu Way of Awakening, Crystal Clarity Publishers, ISBN 1-56589-745-5 
  • Rama, Swami (1985), Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita, Himalayan Institute Press, ISBN 0-89389-090-1 

External links[edit]