vanaprastha ashram

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed Apr 10 09:41:36 CDT 2002

In connection with some of my recent postings I got an email asking about
the vanaprastha ashram and if its' existence does not invalidate some of
my assertions.

vanaprasthashram is a stage of life between grhastha and sannyasa ashrams.
A vanaprastha (the name literally means "forest-dweller") should retire
from public life.  He should concentrate on developing vairagya by
practicing fasts and other austerities and he should replace the physical
practice of rituals with mental equivalents.

Some observations:

1. upasana (meditation) is still karma as far as Advaita Vedanta is
concerned.  That it is mental rather than physical does not make it any
less so.  Upasana, like bhakti etc. can be instrumental to moksha but
moksha itself is gotten through jnana and jnana alone.

2.  Although the nature of the duty has changed a vanaprastha is still
bound by the idea of duty.  Only the sannyasi is free of any restrictions
and distinctions which is a vital ingredient for successful Vedantic

3.  Historically, vanaprastha ashram seems to be more theoretical than
actually practiced.  It is much more ill-defined than the other three.
Most of our ancestors who were not life-long grhasthas seem to have gone
straight to sannyasa skipping this ashram altogether.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

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