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The Four Stages of Life as a Hindu - Research Paper Example

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The Four Stages of Life as a Hindu

Overall, the first three stages aim for an appreciation of life, while the fourth one is centered upon the rejection of life and the attainment of wisdom. During the first three stages of Hindu life, one is expected to observe the “dharma” or the laws of morality and the “sistacara” or the ideal social culture (Jhingran 77). Only Hindu males, however, are expected to undergo the four stages (76). Overall, the first three stages only include men and not women. Nevertheless, wives may participate with their husbands’ role beginning with the second stage. (“The Four Stages”) The first stage is the student stage, or Brahmacharya, where a Hindu male is expected to live and study with a guru or teacher for several years (“The Four Stages”). Normally, a high caste Hindu male undergoes the student stage from the age of 8 to 12 years old up to about 18 to 24 years old (“Hinduism”). This is the stage where the student serves the guru and shows respect to his teacher, as well as develop the habits, skills and practical knowledge he needs for the succeeding stages (“Hinduism”). Moreover, it is during this stage that the student begins studying the Vedas, or the sacred Hindu texts. (“The Four Stages”) It is actually only the Brahmins who are supposed to study and memorize huge portions of the Vedas as well as the accompanying texts, while at the same time undergoing training in the various Hindu rituals. Moreover, these Brahmins, as well as all other members of the other castes, learn the procedure for setting up and maintaining their own household worship, which are centered on the holy fire of Agni, the Hindu god of fire and receiver of sacrifices. (“The Four Stages”) It is interesting to note that the study of the Vedas applies only to those who belong to the “twice-born” castes, or the upper three castes – the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas – or only those to whom the religion applied in the Vedas applies. The Shudras, or the servants of upper castes and peasants, are therefore excluded from the study of the Vedas (“Social Organization”). On the other hand, members of the twice-born castes, before they become a student, undergo a certain ceremony called the thread ceremony, where the initiate wears a red thread over his left shoulder. This is symbolic of the formal and official entrance of a young boy into Hinduism. The thread ceremony is a kind of samskara or ritual not only ordains a young boy into Hinduism but also confers in him the quality of being reborn and permits him to hear the sacred Vedas for the first time and learn his first mantra. (“The Four Stages”) The student at this stage is also expected to remain celibate (Sharma 28). The means of which is to preserve the semen, which is the “vital fluid of life,” and the purpose of preserving this vital fluid is to have “glowing faces, reddish or pinkish countenance, strong muscles and bones, [and] proportionally built healthy bodies” (29-30). Overall the ultimate purpose of the student stage is the development of three aspects of a young person’s self and personality: body, mind and intellect. (30) Lastly, the student is expected to avoid any form of luxury or pleasures, and to practice forgiveness, perseverance and self-control. He is also expected to develop control of emotions like anger and jealousy. (Jhingran 78) After the ...Show more


(Name) (Professor) (Subject) (Date) The Four Stages of Life as a Hindu Hinduism, the oldest religion in the world, recognizes the four “ashramas” or stages of life – Brahmacharya or the student stage, Grihastha or the householder stage, Vanprastha or the retirement stage, and Sanyasa or the ascetic stage…
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The Four Stages of Life as a Hindu essay example
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