Grihastha

गृहस्थ - gr̥hastha

The householder stage of life. One of the four ashrams or stages of life in Hindu philosophy. (1)

Grihastha refers to the second of four classically designed ashrams. (1) The word grihastha literally means “one who lives in a house.” (2) The stage lasts for twenty-four years from around the age of twenty-four to the age of forty-eight. It is a time for worldly marriage, child-bearing and raising, and gainful labor. (3) The other three ashrams of life are brahmacharya (student), vanaprastha (partially retired from worldly life), and sannyas (full renunciation). (1)

During the stage of grihastha, one may perform his duties in the world. One can legitimately seek fulfillment by living at home and working. As long as one lives according to the dharma or universal ethical laws, then one can pursue the accumulation of wealth (artha) during the period. (4)

Grihastha may be considered a stage of education wherein a person learns to work for, achieve, and maintain sophisticated pleasures, rather than fulfill explicitly social or spiritual duties. (5) However, the stage is not purely one of enjoyment. During this period, the person must confront and ultimately overcome material values and existence. The period educates the person to conserve energy to uphold dharma in the practical life. (2)

In India, the system of four ashrams was founded during a higher spiritual age, in which the purpose of life was widely understood and manifested into a system of education. (1) Nowadays, the ideal system of life is not widely observed in modern India, but it has many devout follows. Special schools and communities may uphold the system under the direction of a guru. (6)

References

  1. a b c d A Renunciate Order for the New Age, by Swami Kriyananda. Chapter 15, “A Need for Proper Education.”
  2. a b “The First Two Ashramas: Brahmacharya and Grihastha (2017),” by Swami Krishnananda. https://www.swami-krishnananda.org/freedom/freedom_06.html.
  3. The Hindu Way of Awakening, by Swami Kriyananda. Part II, “The Symbols,” Chapter 11, “Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva: The Trinity of AUM.”
  4. Sadhu, Beware!, by Swami Kriyananda. Chapter VIII, “The Tally.”
  5. Sadhu, Beware!, by Swami Kriyananda. Chapter IX, “Two Stages of Brahmacharya.”
  6. Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda. Chapter 27, “Founding a Yoga School at Ranchi.”