Human life is believed to include four stages. These are called “ashramas.” Ashramas are the stages of life which provide training and environment for realizing the ideal of our life. Every person should ideally go through each of these stages:
The First – “Brahmacharya” or the Student Stage
The Second – “Grihastha” or the Householder Stage
The Third – “Vanaprastha” or the Hermit Stage
The Fourth – “Sannyasa” or the Wandering Ascetic Stage
It is a specific period of education for all young persons before they can grow independent to work for life. Until around age 25, during which, the student leaves home to stay with a guru and achieve both practical knowledge and spiritual.
During this stage, he is called a Brahmachari and is prepared for his future profession, as well as for his family, and social and religious life ahead.
After student-hood, the next stage of life is that of the householder. A Grihastha ashrama usually is from 24 years to 48 years of age. Marriage is the essential part of this stage. He has to work to make a living, to bear children, carry out social responsibilities and maintain a place in the community as well.
This is the third step of life that can be experienced at the age of 48 and goes at the age of 72. This is the step of life, where you have to neglect the worldly attachment and lead a life of meditation.
This is the final stage of our life that is experienced after the age of 72 years. At this level, a person is supposed to be devoted to God.
He is a sannyasi; he has no home, no other attachment; he has renounced all desires, fears, hopes, duties, and responsibilities. He is mostly merged with God.
A spiritual teacher Shree Radhe Guru Maa says, “While Brahmacharya and Grihastha show the ‘Pravritti Marga’ (towards the world), Vanaprasta and Sannyasa indicate the ‘Nivritti Marga’ (away from the world) through introspection and renunciation.”
In conclusion, the first half was a preparation for life; the second half was preparation for death.