Manu On Vanaprastha Asrama Present Day

Hinduism sets four stages of Life.



Brahmacharya, The Celibate Stage, where one regulates his senses and learns the Vedas and the Vedangas.


Gruhastha, when one gets married and discharges the duties of a Householder,


Vanaprastha, one having performed his duties as a Family Man, retires to the forest, either with the wife or without, in this case handing over the wife to be looked after by his sons,


and Sanyasa, when one relinquishes everything and contemplates on the Self, Reality.


When does one know when he has reached the stage of Vanaprastha?


““When a householder sees his skin wrinkled and his hair white, and sees the birth of his grandsons, then he may resort to the forest …. either committing his wife to his sons or accompanied by her”


Grahathastu Yada Pasyadi Vali palitam atmanah ,


Apatasyaiva Capatyam tatdarnyam samasrayet .Manu 6.2


What one is expected to do?

“At this stage one gives his property to his heirs or donates it, goes into seclusion, and does penance. One becomes inward looking. He still contributes with his experience, through advising and teaching. Having fulfilled his desires in the previous ashrama, one is expected to win over senses and sensuous pleasures. Thus his work is also more dispassionate and detached, as he does not seek any specific result from the work. It will be for the benefit of society alone. Though one is supposed to celibate, he is not required to renounce or live alone. One can take his wife or live with any other person. One is also permitted to earn his livelihood though not to save/accumulate. But unless there is a specific need, he does not enter the city – usually people needing a vanaprasthi’s advice go to him instead of him visiting people.

One still has debts towards rishis and gods at this stage, and does teaching as well as performs sacrifices to propitiate the devatas. His primary debt towards pitris is cleared as he obtains progeny and raises them in grhastha ashrama, though he continues giving oblations to pitris during vanaprastha (Manu 6.1-32).”


How does one follow this in the present age?


Vanaprastha in essence means  detached attachment.


The difference between this and Sanyasa is that Sanyasa is total detachment.


Detached Attachment.


Not resorting to philosophical deliberations, it is this.


When children have their own Family, parents must not expect that every decision is referred to them for approval nor should they expect to be consulted with the clear view that we, as parents have had a run of our and their life for quite some time and let them perform.


Avoid unsolicited advice.


Do not expect your advice to be followed.


Do what is expected of you in Varnasrama Dharama by remaining at Home, ensuring that your essential needs are met, as far as possible without disturbing others.



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