Some Hindu and yoga texts describe the
ashramas as sequential based on age, but others
call them four distinct ways of life that any yogi may follow
regardless of age. Each ashrama stage places different levels of
emphasis on dharma, with different stages viewed as either steps or
different paths to the attainment of the yogic ideal of moksha
(freedom from the life-death-rebirth cycle).
Traditionally, the four stages of Hindu
- Brahmacharya, which is known as
the bachelor-student stage when celibacy is practiced for the
purpose of focusing on education.
- Grihastha, which is known as the family stage when the yogi must fulfill familial and social obligations.
- Vanaprastha, which is the stage
when the children have left home and the yogi transitions from
worldly occupations to renunciation and reflection.
- Sannyasa, which is the final stage
when the yogi gives away property, becomes a recluse and devotes
himself to spiritual matters and the attainment of moksha.