STAGES OF HINDU LIFE
In Vedic times, the span of a normal human life was averaged to be eighty-four years, with four sections of twenty-one years each. The first twenty-one years is known as the “Brahmacharya ashram”, the stage of youth or learning, which requires a certain discipline, guidance and purity to gain the knowledge required.
The second twenty-one years, from ages twenty-one to forty-two, is called the “Grihastha ashram” or householder phase. This is the main time for having children and raising a family, working, and paying our obligations to society.
The third section of twenty-one years, from ages forty-two to sixty-three is the “Vanaprastha” or the hermitage phase. This is a time for return to studying scriptures, meditation and contemplation.
The fourth and last section from sixty-three to eighty-four is the “Sannyasa” or renunciation phase. The person, now an elder full of wisdom, inwardly aims to renounce all the material goals of life. The person spends all their time with spiritual pursuits. In times gone by and sometimes now as well a person would become a wandering mendicant begging for food with few belongings, all family ties gone and only God left to seek.