Four Stage of life
Hinduism is a holistic, balanced religion. It does not push a person towards materialism or
Hindu philosophy recognises that people
have different needs at different times of their lives.
People have to have a feeling of completeness and having achieved a measure
of success. To this end, our scriptures have
organised four main phases in a persons life and four main goals that they should
try to attain in each of these phases.
phase is that of a students life.
Goal is to attain knowledge.
Not bookish information that is geared to
passing exams only, but real knowledge. Knowledge
that will help free your mind and our creativity.
The current education system
churns out more literate people than ever before, but many are miserable ! Why ?
Because they do not have what they
studied so hard for "suitable job" !!!
When the aim of the
system is to produce a desk clerk, how can that knowledge make you happy ? Such a system will only produce office workers and
no more. Knowledge is not limited to getting a
According to our scriptures, knowledge
should set you free Sa Vidya ya Vimuchyate !
phase is devoted to raising a family.
Goal is to satisfy your urge to make a difference !
Having attained knowledge, a person
to apply it.
What is the use of something,
anything, if you cant use it ?!?
house-holders life requires a person to apply what they have learned and start
something they can call their own. Business,
farming, job a young person needs to do this to feel he is earning his keep and is
making a difference to the world around him.
Young people, all over the world, since
time began, feel they know more than their parents and they can do it better than them ! They are full of idealistic zeal and have a lot of
energy to devote to this task. Instead of
curbing this zeal, Hinduism advocates tapping into it and allowing the young to do what
they need to achieve their goals. The parents
are suppose to guide and semi-retire at this stage and let the young take over. Having achieved some succeed in his chosen work
field, the young man can genuinely feel he can start a family of his own. What is the point of starting a family you cannot
support ? The young couple need to feel that
they are pulling their own weight. Its a
natural urge and should be encouraged.
The family unit is key to any society. Without a family, the society cannot
continue. If everyone decided to become
selfish and have no family / children, the society would soon die off from want of new
members. Equally, if everyone
decided to renounced life and become monks, the society would have no one to support it
financially and materially and the monks would soon have to forage in the forest ! Once again, there would be no one to add to the sum
total of the society and it would soon die off.
The householder is the key supporter of
people in the other three phases of life. The
money and materials they generate, help feed, clothe and house the others. For this reason, this second phase of the life is
considered a must for everyone.
Key desire for all life forms is to
reproduce. How else can the species continue ?
This natural desire is recognised and accepted in Hinduism and as a result,
marriage is considered to be a sacred sacrement. Men and women are
expected to get married at an appropiate age and have lot of children to
propagate the race.
stage is of semi retired parents.
Goal is to contribute to the society and family.
Having achieved success in business, job,
career, a person wants to advance by leaving behind a mark.
Desire to be famous is an inborn thing amongst humans. Some want to be famous for running, rowing,
swimming, acting, accumulating wealth, intelligence, looks, cooking, clothes, creativity
even misery ! Timur Lane, descendant of Gengis
Khan and ancestor to the Mughals, wanted to be remembered for how much he made the world
cry ! Strange are the desires of the human
Once your children are able to stand on
their own financial feet, parents can afford to take it easy. They can than devote their time to social service,
helping others, contributing to the community by sharing their expertise and experience. Their role in home life is to help guide the
children (career, home, relationships etc) and help instill a measure of good ethics,
morals and values in the grandchildren. Far
from relaxing, this is the time when people actively make huge contributions
to society / community in more ways than one.
fourth stage of life, the elderly couple voluntarily withdraw from the society and live a
life of spiritual contemplation.
The goal is to achieve the spiritual ultimate nirvana !
Having achieved set goals in
financial and social spheres, it is time to achieve the ultimate goal of spiritual peace.
Having enjoyed material success in life, its time
to savour spiritual success. Hindus believed
that the old people will themselves leave the family and not sit around to constantly nag their
children and grandchildren. In old age, when
you are unable to contribute physically, and are mentally tired too, its best to let the
young take care of the world and enjoy the memories of your own youth. It is important too, to plan for the here-after.
Hinduism teaches us that you have to take
care of your own spiritual well being, no one can do that for you. You have to travel the road to nirvana, no one else
can do it for you. Gurus can guide, but, the
path has to be taken by you and you alone. In
the thick of the MahaBharat battle, Lord Krushna tells Arjun point blank, I can
guide you, but, you have to fight. I can tell
you where to aim your arrows, but, you have to string the Gandiv and
you have to set the arrows not me.
development must happen throughout your life. Studying scriptures,
meditation, visiting sacred places, giving charity etc must happen on a regular
basis. After retirement, this must accelerate. Reflecting on their
karmic balance, the elderly must try to lighten the load for the soul's journey
to their next life.
The very idea that in Sanyas, the elderly
leave the family home all together and travel to some secluded spot for contemplation, is
a uniquely refreshing idea amongst world cultures. It
is far more modern in its approach than any other !
Than, as now, ashrams in sacred places catered for the
elderly who wished to retire from active life.
Having left the family behind, sadhus, monks, nuns and priests took care of the
sermons, taught meditation and looked them till their death.
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