ESSAY COMPETITION: (Marathi) Senior Special Prize

WINNERíS NAME: Vrinda Bye Naojee

SCHOOL: Mahatma Gandhi Institute

TITLE: Analyse the wisdom behind the Hindu scheme of life in four stages (student, householder, hermit, ascetic) and show how its practice or adaptation can benefit society especially by harnessing the services of our ageing population in the next millennium.



This paper deals with the four Ashramas or stages in life:

  1. (a)    Brahmacharya or the period of studentship, the period of study and discipline. The student engages himself in doing services to his preceptor and refrains from all pleasures.
  2. (b)   Grihastha or the stage of the householder. The household stage is entered at marriage when the student has completed his studentship and is ready to take up the duties and responsibilites of household life.
  3. (c)    Vanaprastha or the stage of the forest dweller or hermit. After discharging all the duties of a householder, he should retire to the forest or a solitary country place and begin to meditate in solitude on higher spiritual things. He is free from social bonds and the responsibilities of life.
  4. (d)   Sannyasa or the stage of the life of renunciation or asceticism. When a man becomes a Sannyasin, he renounces all material things. When he attains the sublime state of deep meditation he rejoices in his own Self. He attains perfection and freedom. He is a Jivanmukta or a liberated sage.

Each stage has its own duties. These stages help the evolution of man. The four Ashramas take man to perfection by successive stages. The practice of the four Ashramas regulates the life from the beginning to the end. The first two Ashramas pertain to Pravritti marga or the path of work and the two later stages are those of withdrawal from the world. They pertain to Nivritti Marga or the path of renunciation.