Definition - What does Vanaprastha mean?

Vanaprastha is a Sanskrit term derived from vana, meaning "forest," and prastha, meaning "going to." Therefore, it may be translated as “retiring to the forest.”

This is one of the most important concepts in the Hindu religion, as it represents the third of the four ashramas, or life stages.

Yogapedia explains Vanaprastha

This life stage begins when one passes the responsibilities of running a household over to the next generation. One goes from being a householder and being engaged in family life to a more introspective and meditative stage of life. Initially, one will act as a wise elder, providing advice and guidance to those in need. As time passes, he/she will gradually withdraw from the world to live a more spiritual and solitary life. It is also possible to enter vanaprastha straight from the brahmacharya (student) life stage.

The transition to this stage marks a profound shift in the goals of the person. From being focused on the material pursuits of wealth and pleasure, the yogi now looks inward toward moksha (spiritual liberation), Self-realization and unity with the Divine.

Email Newsletter

Join thousands of others with our weekly newsletter