Ashram Dharma

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Ashram Dharma Mean?

Ashram dharma is the term that describes the Hindu concept of duty as it relates to each of the four stages of life. Dharma includes conduct, duties, virtues and a way of living that is in accord with the moral law of the world. The ashramas are known as the stages of life, each of which has its responsibilities for an honorable life and spiritual fulfillment.

Ashram dharma reflects the Hindu idea of society in which everyone plays an ordered role that may be determined by caste, age, profession, marital status and other factors.


Yogapedia Explains Ashram Dharma

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 life are:

  1. Brahmacharya, which is known as the bachelor-student stage when celibacy is practiced for the purpose of focusing on education.
  2. Grihastha, which is known as the family stage when the yogi must fulfill familial and social obligations.
  3. Vanaprastha, which is the stage when the children have left home and the yogi transitions from worldly occupations to renunciation and reflection.
  4. 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.

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