Reg. VAnaprastha

Sat Nov 20 04:11:35 CST 1999

I am a recently enrolled member.
I was browsing through the archives of the list (the more recent ones), where I found a regarding VaAnaprastha Ashram.
Here are some thoughts regarding the same.
According to tradition the transition of the different ashrams is, in a way, age based.
0- 25 years: Brahmacharya
25- 50 years: Garhastya
50 -75 years: Vanaprastha
After 75 : Samnyasa

Maybe in todays  world, these timelimits do not have their original significance, but there is an old adage in our vernacular that confirms this
-" No rites of Offerings to forefathers are required in a house with poultry or KOVAL ( a vegetable)"
This may sound startling at first, but has a beautiful explanation- in a house with hens, etc, it is impossible to do the offerings with real purity and sanctity - hence no use doing it.
And those who eat KOVAL kai regularly will be so healthy that all will cross the age of 75, and so, naturally should become Sanyasins. No family rites are to be offered to a sanyasin after samadhi.

Regarding the need to obtain parental / family sanction: 
The fact of Jnaneshwar's family is a case in point ( Maratha expostulator of The Gita as "Jnaneshwari")
The family was ostracised due to his father's return from Sanyasa, but the reason why he'd to return in the first place is because his Guru ordered him to return to his family. Jnaneshwar's father had quit home without his wife's consent, and she, after 12 years got a boon from his guru, that her husband will return.

Madhvacharya also waited ( I'm not clear on this point, maybe someone should clear it up) till another son was born in his home to take care of the parents before embarking on his way.

Viewing the point from a sociological aspect,
It is seen that all the other three Ashramas are essential for the sustenance of VaAnaprastha- the Brahmacharis provide the students, the grihasthas are the providers , and the Sanyasins are the teachers. If everyone took up vnaprastha from tomorrow, hunger would be the closer reality than Atman! :-)

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