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VANAPRASTHA (Sanskrit : वनप्रस्थ) literally means "giving up worthly life". It is also a concept in Hindu
Hindu
traditions, representing the third of four ashrama (stages) of human life, the other three being Brahmacharya
Brahmacharya
(bachelor student, 1st stage), Grihastha
Grihastha
(married householder, 2nd stage) and Sannyasa
Sannyasa
(renunciation ascetic, 4th stage).

Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
is part of the Vedic ashram system
Vedic ashram system
, which starts when a person hands over household responsibilities to the next generation, takes an advisory role, and gradually withdraws from the world. This stage typically follows Grihastha
Grihastha
(householder), but a man or woman may choose to skip householder stage, and enter Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
directly after Brahmacharya
Brahmacharya
(student) stage, as a prelude to San yasa (ascetic) and spiritual pursuits.

Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
stage is considered as a transition phase from a householder's life with greater emphasis on Artha
Artha
and Kama
Kama
(wealth, security, pleasure and sexual pursuits) to one with greater emphasis on Moksha
Moksha
(spiritual liberation).

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology * 2 Discussion * 3 Literature * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 Further reading * 7 External links

ETYMOLOGY

Part of a series on

HINDUISM

* Hindu
Hindu
* History

Concepts GOD / HIGHEST REALITY

* Brahman
Brahman
* Ishvara
Ishvara
* God in Hinduism
Hinduism
* God and gender

LIFE

* Atman * Maya * Karma
Karma
* Samsara
Samsara

* Purusharthas
Purusharthas

* Dharma
Dharma
* Artha
Artha
* Kama
Kama
* Moksha
Moksha

ETHICS

* Niti shastra * Yamas
Yamas
* Niyama
Niyama
* Ahimsa
Ahimsa
* Asteya
Asteya
* Aparigraha
Aparigraha
* Brahmacharya
Brahmacharya
* Satya
Satya
* Damah * Dayā * Akrodha
Akrodha
* Ārjava * Santosha
Santosha
* Tapas * Svādhyāya
Svādhyāya
* Shaucha
Shaucha
* Mitahara
Mitahara
* Dāna
Dāna

LIBERATION

* Bhakti yoga
Bhakti yoga
* Jnana yoga
Jnana yoga
* Karma
Karma
yoga

Schools SIX ASTIKA SCHOOLS

* Samkhya
Samkhya
* Yoga
Yoga
* Nyaya
Nyaya
* Vaisheshika * Mimamsa
Mimamsa

* Vedanta
Vedanta

* Advaita * Dvaita
Dvaita
* Vishishtadvaita
Vishishtadvaita

OTHER SCHOOLS

* Pasupata
Pasupata
* Saiva * Pratyabhijña * Raseśvara * Pāṇini
Pāṇini
Darśana * Charvaka

Deities TRIMURTI

* Brahma
Brahma
* Vishnu
Vishnu
* Shiva
Shiva

------------------------- OTHER MAJOR DEVIS / DEVAS

* Vedic * Indra
Indra
* Agni
Agni
* Prajapati
Prajapati
* Rudra
Rudra
* Devi
Devi
* Saraswati
Saraswati
* Ushas
Ushas
* Varuna
Varuna
* Vayu
Vayu

* Post-Vedic * Durga
Durga
* Ganesha
Ganesha
* Hanuman
Hanuman
* Kali
Kali
* Kartikeya
Kartikeya
* Krishna
Krishna
* Lakshmi
Lakshmi
* Parvati
Parvati
* Radha
Radha
* Rama
Rama
* Shakti
Shakti
* Sita
Sita

Texts SCRIPTURES VEDAS

* Rigveda
Rigveda
* Yajurveda
Yajurveda
* Samaveda
Samaveda
* Atharvaveda
Atharvaveda

DIVISIONS

* Samhita * Brahmana
Brahmana
* Aranyaka
Aranyaka
* Upanishad
Upanishad

UPANISHADS

* Rigveda: * Aitareya * Kaushitaki

* Yajurveda: * Brihadaranyaka * Isha * Taittiriya * Katha * Shvetashvatara * Maitri

* Samaveda: * Chandogya * Kena

* Atharvaveda: * Mundaka * Mandukya * Prashna

OTHER SCRIPTURES

* Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita
* Agama (Hinduism)
Agama (Hinduism)

OTHER TEXTS VEDANGAS

* Shiksha
Shiksha
* Chandas * Vyakarana
Vyakarana
* Nirukta
Nirukta
* Kalpa * Jyotisha
Jyotisha

PURANAS

* Vishnu
Vishnu
Purana * BHAGAVATA PURANA * Nāradeya Purana
Nāradeya Purana
* Vāmana Purana * Matsya Purana
Matsya Purana
* Garuda Purana
Garuda Purana
* Brahma
Brahma
Purana * Brahmānda Purana
Brahmānda Purana
* Brahma
Brahma
Vaivarta Purana * Bhavishya Purana
Bhavishya Purana
* Padma Purana
Padma Purana
* Agni
Agni
Purana * Shiva
Shiva
Purana * Linga Purana
Linga Purana
* Kūrma Purana * Skanda Purana
Skanda Purana
* Varaha Purana
Varaha Purana
* Mārkandeya Purana
Mārkandeya Purana

ITIHASAS

* Ramayana
Ramayana
* Mahabharata
Mahabharata

UPAVEDAS

* Ayurveda
Ayurveda
* Dhanurveda
Dhanurveda
* Gandharvaveda
Gandharvaveda
* Sthapatyaveda
Sthapatyaveda

SHASTRAS AND SUTRAS

* Dharma
Dharma
Shastra * Artha
Artha
Śastra * Kamasutra
Kamasutra
* Brahma
Brahma
Sutras * Samkhya
Samkhya
Sutras * Mimamsa
Mimamsa
Sutras * Nyāya Sūtras
Nyāya Sūtras
* Vaiśeṣika Sūtra
Vaiśeṣika Sūtra
* Yoga
Yoga
Sutras * Pramana
Pramana
Sutras * Charaka Samhita
Charaka Samhita
* Sushruta Samhita
Sushruta Samhita
* Natya Shastra
Natya Shastra
* Panchatantra
Panchatantra
* Divya Prabandha
Divya Prabandha
* Tirumurai
Tirumurai
* Ramcharitmanas
Ramcharitmanas
* Yoga Vasistha
Yoga Vasistha
* Swara yoga * Shiva
Shiva
Samhita * Gheranda Samhita
Gheranda Samhita
* Panchadasi
Panchadasi
* Stotra
Stotra
* Sutras

TEXT CLASSIFICATION

* Śruti
Śruti
Smriti
Smriti

* TIMELINE OF HINDU TEXTS

Practices WORSHIP

* Puja * Temple * Murti
Murti
* Bhakti
Bhakti
* Japa
Japa
* Bhajana
Bhajana
* Yajna
Yajna
* Homa * Vrata
Vrata
* Prāyaścitta
Prāyaścitta
* Tirtha * Tirthadana * Matha
Matha
* Nritta-Nritya

MEDITATION AND CHARITY

* Tapa * Dhyana * Dāna
Dāna

YOGA

* Asana
Asana
* Hatha yoga
Hatha yoga
* Jnana yoga
Jnana yoga
* Bhakti yoga
Bhakti yoga
* Karma
Karma
yoga * Raja yoga
Raja yoga

RITES OF PASSAGE

* Garbhadhana
Garbhadhana
* Pumsavana
Pumsavana
* Simantonayana
Simantonayana
* Jatakarma
Jatakarma
* Namakarana
Namakarana
* Nishkramana
Nishkramana
* Annaprashana
Annaprashana
* Chudakarana
Chudakarana
* Karnavedha
Karnavedha
* Vidyarambha
Vidyarambha
* Upanayana
Upanayana
* Keshanta
Keshanta
* Ritushuddhi
Ritushuddhi
* Samavartana
Samavartana
* Vivaha * Antyeshti
Antyeshti

ASHRAMA DHARMA

* Ashrama : Brahmacharya
Brahmacharya
* Grihastha
Grihastha
* Vanaprastha * Sannyasa
Sannyasa

FESTIVALS

* Diwali
Diwali
* Holi
Holi
* Shivaratri
Shivaratri

* Navaratri

* Durga
Durga
Puja * Ramlila
Ramlila
* Vijayadashami-Dussehra

* Raksha Bandhan
Raksha Bandhan
* Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesh Chaturthi
* Vasant Panchami
Vasant Panchami
* Rama
Rama
Navami * Janmashtami * Onam
Onam
* Makar Sankranti
Makar Sankranti
* Kumbha Mela
Kumbha Mela
* Pongal * Ugadi
Ugadi

* Vaisakhi
Vaisakhi

* Bihu
Bihu
* Puthandu
Puthandu
* Vishu
Vishu

* Ratha Yatra

Gurus, saints, philosophers ANCIENT

* Agastya
Agastya
* Angiras * Aruni
Aruni
* Ashtavakra
Ashtavakra
* Atri
Atri
* Bharadwaja
Bharadwaja
* Gotama * Jamadagni
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* Jaimini
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* Kanada * Kapila
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* Kashyapa
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* Pāṇini
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Valmiki
* Vashistha
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* Vishvamitra
Vishvamitra
* Vyasa
Vyasa
* Yajnavalkya
Yajnavalkya

MEDIEVAL

* Nayanars
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Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
(वनप्रस्थ) is a composite word with the roots vana (वन) meaning "forest, distant land", and prastha (प्रस्थ) meaning "going to, abiding in, journey to". The composite word literally means "retiring to forest".

Widgery states that Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
is synonymous with Aranyaka (Sanskrit: आरण्यक) in historic Indian literature discussing four stages of human life.

DISCUSSION

Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
is part of the ancient Indian concept called Chaturashrama , which identified four stages of a human life, with distinct differences based on natural human needs and drives. The first stage of life was Brahmacharya
Brahmacharya
(bachelor student) lasting through about 20 years of life, the second stage was Grihastha (married householder) and lasted through about 50 year age. Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
represented the third stage and typically marked with birth of grand children, gradual transition of householder responsibilities to the next generation, increasingly hermit-like lifestyle, and greater emphasis on community services and spiritual pursuit. The Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
stage ultimately transitioned into Sannyasa , a stage of complete renunciation and dedication to spiritual questions.

Vanaprastha, according to Vedic ashram system
Vedic ashram system
, lasted between the ages of 50 and 74.

Nugteren states that Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
was, in practice, a metaphor and guideline. It encouraged gradual transition of social responsibility, economic roles, personal focus towards spirituality, from being center of the action to a more advisory peripheral role, without actually requiring someone to actually moving into a forest with or without one's partner. While some literally gave up their property and possessions to move into distant lands, most stayed with their families and communities but assumed a transitioning role and gracefully accept an evolving role with age. Dhavamony identifies Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
stage as one of "detachment and increasing seclusion" but usually serving as a counselor, peace-maker, judge, teacher to young and advisor to the middle aged.

Hindu
Hindu
traditions respected freedom and personal choice. While Grihastha
Grihastha
and Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
stages of life were recommended, they were not a requirement. Any Brahmacharya
Brahmacharya
may, if he or she wants, skip householder and retirement stage, go straight to Sannyasa
Sannyasa
stage of life, thereby renouncing worldly and materialistic pursuits and dedicating their lives to spiritual pursuits.

LITERATURE

History

Jamison and Witzel state early Vedic texts make no mention of life in retirement, or Vanaprastha, or Ashrama system, unlike the concepts of Brahmacharin and Grihasthi which can be distinguished. The earliest mention of a related concept in Rig Veda is of Antigriha (अन्तिगृह, like a neighbor) in hymn 10.95.4, where the context and content suggests the elders did not go into forest, but continued to live as part of extended family, with outwardly role, in ancient India. In later Vedic era and over time, Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
and other new concepts emerged, while older ideas evolved and expanded. The concept of Vanaprastha, and Sannyasa
Sannyasa
, emerged about or after 7th Century BC, when sages such as Yājñavalkya left their homes and roamed around as spiritual recluses and pursued their Pravrajika (homeless) lifestyle.

The Dharmasūtras and Dharmaśāstras , composed about mid 1st millennium BC and later, place increasing emphasis on all four stages of Ashrama system, including Vanaprastha. The Baudhayana Dharmasūtra, in verses 2.11.9 to 2.11.12, describes the four Ashramas including Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
as "a fourfold division of Dharma
Dharma
". The older Dharmasūtras, however, are significantly different in their treatment of Ashramas system from the more modern Dharmaśāstras, because they do not limit some of their Ashrama rituals to the three varnas – Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. The newer Dharmaśāstra
Dharmaśāstra
vary widely in their discussion of Ashrama system including Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
in the context of classes (castes), with some mentioning it for three, while others such as Vaikhānasa Dharmasūtra including all four.

Olivelle posits that the older Dharmasūtras present the Ashramas as four alternative ways of life and options available, but not as sequential stage that any individual must follow. Olivelle also states that Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
along with the Ashrama system gained mainstream scholarly acceptance about 2nd century BC. Spectrum of views

Numerous ancient and medieval texts of India discuss the four stages of a human being. Each offers different perspective. Some are strict and literal, while others discuss the concept in contextual and metaphorical terms. For example, Manusmriti offers elaborate prescriptions for drastic kind of renunciation, describing in verse 6.21 what the retiree in the forest should eat. In contrast, the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
suggests Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
is a symbolic metaphor and declares that a king may achieve the "object of Vanaprastha" by certain actions, without retiring into the forest. For example, Shanti Parva (the Book of Peace) of the Hindu
Hindu
Epic, states,

That king, O Yudhishthira
Yudhishthira
, who rescues from distress, to the best of his power, his kinsmen and relatives and friends, attains to the object of the Vanaprashtha mode of life. That king who on every occasion honours those that are foremost among men attains the object of the Vanaprashtha mode of life. That king, O Partha, who daily makes offerings unto all living creatures including men, attains to the object of the same mode of life. That king, who grinds the kingdoms of others for protecting the righteous, attains to the object of the Vanaprashtha mode of life. That king who engages in battle with the resolve of protecting his kingdom or meeting with death, attains to the object of the Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
mode of life. — The Mahabharata, Shanti Parva, Section LXVI

Markandeya Purana
Markandeya Purana
suggests that a householder, after he has taken care of his progeny, his parents, his traditions and cleansed his mind is ready to enter the third stage of life, or Vanaprastha. He must lead a frugal life during this stage, sleeping on floor, eating only fruits and bulbs. The more he gives up the worldly delights, the closer he gets to the knowledge of his spirit, and more ready he is for the last stage - the Sanyas Ashram, where he renounces everything and focuses entirely on spiritual pursuits.

Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
appears in many major literary works from ancient India. For example, many chapters of the Hindu
Hindu
Epic Ramayana
Ramayana
, just like the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
, build around hermit-style life in a forest (Vanaprastha). Similarly, the Abhijñānaśākuntalam
Abhijñānaśākuntalam
(Shakuntala play by Kalidasa ) revolves around hermit lifestyle in a forest. Many of the legendary forest hermitages, mentioned in various Sanskrit works, later became sites for major temples and Hindu
Hindu
pilgrimage.

Narada Parivrajaka Upanishad
Upanishad
identifies four characteristics of a Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
stage of life as Audumbara (threshold of house, woods), Vaikhanasa (anchorite), Samprakshali (cleansing rituals) and Purnamanasa (contented mind).

Nigal states Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
stage to be a gradual evolution of a "family man" to a "society man", from one seeking "personal gain" to one seeking a "better world, welfare of his community, agapistic altruism".

SEE ALSO

* Ashrama_(stage) * Brahmacharya
Brahmacharya
* Grihastha
Grihastha
* Sannyasa
Sannyasa

REFERENCES

* ^ A B vanapastha Koeln University, Germany * ^ RK Sharma (1999), Indian Society, Institutions and Change, ISBN 978-8171566655 , pages 28, 38-39 * ^ Ralph Tench and William Sun (2014), Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility: Perspectives and Practice, ISBN 978-1783507955 , page 346 * ^ A B C D E F Albertina Nugteren (2005), Belief, Bounty, And Beauty: Rituals Around Sacred Trees in India, Brill Academic, ISBN 978-9004146013 , pages 13-21 * ^ Sahebrao Genu Nigal (1986). Axiological approach to the Vedas. Northern Book Centre. p. 112. ISBN 81-85119-18-X . * ^ Manilal Bose (1998). "5. Grihastha
Grihastha
Ashrama, Vanprastha and Sanyasa". Social and cultural history of ancient India. Concept Publishing Company. p. 68. ISBN 81-7022-598-1 . * ^ Saraswathi et al (2010), Reconceptualizing Lifespan Development through a Hindu
Hindu
Perspective, in Bridging Cultural and Developmental Approaches to Psychology (Editor: Lene Arnett Jensen), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195383430 , page 280-286 * ^ vana Koeln University, Germany * ^ prastha Koeln University, Germany * ^ Alban G. Widgery (1930), The Principles of Hindu
Hindu
Ethics, International Journal of Ethics, 40(2): 232-245 * ^ A B C Sahebrao Genu Nigal (1986). Axiological approach to the Vedas. Northern Book Centre. pp. 110–114. ISBN 81-85119-18-X . * ^ A B What is Hinduism? (Editors of Hinduism
Hinduism
Today), Two noble paths of Dharma, p. 101, at Google Books
Google Books
, Family Life and Monastic Life, Chapter 10 with page 101 in particular * ^ Mariasusai Dhavamony (1982), Classical Hinduism, ISBN 978-8876524820 , page 355 * ^ A B Jamison and Witzel (1992), Vedic Hinduism, Harvard University Archives, page 47 * ^ JF Sprockhoff (1981), Aranyaka
Aranyaka
und Vanaprastha
Vanaprastha
in der vedischen Literatur, Neue Erwägungen zu einer alten Legende und ihren Problemen. Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens und Archiv für Indische Philosophie Wien, 25, pages 19-90 * ^ JF Sprockhoff (1976), Sannyāsa, Quellenstudien zur Askese im Hinduismus I: Untersuchungen über die Sannyåsa-Upanishads, Wiesbaden, OCLC
OCLC
644380709 * ^ A B C Barbara Holdrege (2004), Dharma, in The Hindu
Hindu
World (Editors: Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby), Routledge, ISBN 0-415-21527-7 , page 231 * ^ Olivelle translates them as classes over pages 25-34, e.g. see footnote 70; while other authors translate them as castes * ^ A B Patrick Olivelle (1993), The Ashrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195344783 * ^ Patrick Olivelle (1993), The Ashrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0195344783 , page 94 * ^ A B KM Ganguli (Translator), Santi Parva The Mahabharata, Section LXVI, pages 211-214 * ^ B.K. Chaturvedi (2004). Markandeya Purana. Diamond Pocket Books. p. 55. ISBN 81-288-0577-0 . * ^ M Chatterjee (1986), The Concept of Dharma, in Facts and Values (Editors: Doeser and Kraay), Springer, ISBN 978-94-010-8482-6 , pages 177-187 * ^ NL Dey, The Geographical Dictionary of Ancient and Medieval India at Google Books
Google Books
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