Chaturashrama dharmas

Chaturashramas are four Phases of Life. Dharmas are social and family duties to be performed by an individual. Four phases of life are Balyam, Kaumaram, Yavvanam and Vardhakyam. Indian Society’s resilience in the face of adversity is unique and amazing when compared to other societies. 

This distinctive characteristic of Indian Society is because of Traditional Family System based on the beliefs of LINEAGE AND REBIRTH. A man in India is bound  to ensure continuity of Lineage as a matter of duty.

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To fulfill this obligation a man is ordained to follow certain Family duties and social duties as well in the name of Trirunas and Ashrama Dharmas….Ashramas are Phases of Life.


First Phase in life is Baalya ( Child hood )

Second one is Koumaara ( Adolescence )

Third one is Brahmachayra ( Continence ) 

Fourth one is Gruhasthaashrama  ( House hold )

Fifth one is Vaanaprastha ( Hermitage )

And  Sixth but the last one is Sanyaasa ( Renunciation ). 

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Grihasthashrama dharma

Grihashthashrama dharma is a man’s obligation to enter into family life and perform his duties. Grihastha means a householderman. Ashrama means a phase of life. Dharma means social duty. And we have to understand that institutions of Brahmacharins and Grihasthas, even though they preach and practice different and opposite ideals both the practices are held in high esteem by the ancient society. A Brahmachari (a child) is contributed by Gruhasthas to the institution of Learning.

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A Brahmachari by studying scriptures contributes to the society by way of preserving  sacred  scriptures for posterity. After learning scriptures a Brahmachari could shed his avatar as Brahmachari and join Gruhasta Ashrama. And after fulfilling his duties as Gruhastha he could get back to forests as Vanaprastha. After Vanaprastha he could opt to become a Sanyasi. ​(The following text is an extract from Chapter 20, Gruhasthashrama dharma in author’s BOOK: “A Tribute to the Ancient World of India”) 

 No individual is forced to follow this norm or that. One could remain in the Gurukula or College even after learning some scriptures and become Acharya by    mastering the scriptures. And the blessed would become Brahma Prajapati later.  Some may become Sages.

    And some may remain in Gruhasta ashrama after Brahmacharya and continue to live in his community as an elderly person (as Agna, Arya).

Individual freedom was never restricted and no persecution is reported in Indian History.

But we would learn from the subsequent chapters that those who do not follow social and family virtues and indulge in immoral activities and who forgets his social responsibility, who ridicules and harasses Brahma and who neglects Devi worship were punished.

And after finishing his studies he has to take permission from  his Teacher to enter into Grihasthaasrama, that is, to get married one’s Guru has to give consent. Hindu Dharma envisages that man has to perform certain Ashrama Dharmas ( Duties in different Phases of his life ) to clear off his debts to his Ancestors, Sages and Gods and they are as listed below:

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Good Characteristic of a Grihastha (House holder) is told by sages as follows:

“ Daya, Shradda, Kshama, Lajja, Tyaaga, Shaanthi, Krithajnata Gunah, Yasyabhavantyete gruhathaashramo mukhya Eva sah”

Which  means – ‘One , who has entered the Grihasthaashrama,  has to conduct his duty  in Patient , Sober manner. He should have wisdom to be  Merciful  to all Creatures and Humane to the needy, and he must have faithfulness, and be able to make sacrifices ( In terms of money and also self interest ) in case of Social need

And Nobility of a House holder man ( Gruhastha ) is glorified thru the following sloka:

“Vaanaprastho brahmachaari yathishchaiva tatha dwijah

Gruhathasya prasaadena jeevanthyeaite yadhavidhi

Guhastha eva yajiti gruhasthapyate tapah

Dadaticha gruhasthashch tasmaachreyo gruha ashrame”.

According to the above Sloka a House holder man is vital for the well being of the society. For,  a Gruhastha  is one  who feeds the Hermits, Bachelors, Monks, Brahmanas ( and all the Establishment ). Gruhasthaashrama is Noblest  of all   Ashramaas. .There are 15 Kinds of Rituals Panchadasha karmas (rites de passage ) prescribed according to Hindu tradition for the well being of an Individual from his birth to the end.

These 15 Rituals are called Panchadasha karmas to be performed by Several people in different stages of one’s life for one’s  Welfare   from the date of his Conceptualization in mother’s womb to his departure from this world. The last ritual the Sixteenth one called Antyeshti  which is to performed by one’s son for the safe passage of the soul to Heavens. Then ,  including this last ritual total rituals are called as  Shodasha (16) Karmas.

These are as listed below:

1. Garbhaadaana, 2. Pumsavana, 3. Seemanta, 4. Jaatakarma, 5. Naamakarna, 6. Annapraasana, 7. Choula, 8. Upanayana, 9. Prajaapatya, 10. Sowmya, 11. Aagneya, 12. Vaisvadeva, 14. Snaataka, 15. Vivaaha  and then at the End , 16. Antyeshti.

Among the above only Snaatakam and Vivaham are to be performed by the individual for himself.

Whereas five Samskaaras  like- Prajapatya, Sowmya, Aagneya, Godaana and Vaisvadeva are to be performed by one’s Guru ( Teacher ).

And the rest are to be performed by one’s parent, I,e.Father.

Meaning and details of some of the above important Rituals which are in Vogue today are elaborated as here under:

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Garbhadana

1.   

( To be conducted by one’s ensuing father ) :Nuptials , a Ritual that follows a Formal Marriage of a Bride and Bride Groom is called Garbhadanam

( Literally this means a Bride groom  is  to Gift pregnancy to the Bride . 

Garbhadana Ritual is initiated with the following Sloka .

“ Daampatyoh Aayurbhoga Sobha vrudhyardham asyaam, bhaaryaayaam pradham garbha samskaarasya sarva garbha sudhyardham garbhaadaanaakhyaam karishye “

( Through this rutual the Couple will attain Good health

Jatakarma

This is a ritual to be performed by the Father of a child as soon as the Father hears the news of birth of the child. But this ritual is conducted on even days after birth as Baarasaala nowadays.  

Annaprasana :

This ritual is conducted in 6 th  or 8 th month of a child in order to initiate the feeding of Cooked Rice to the child by his parent.

Karna vedha:

This ritual of piercing the Earlobes is conducted on Base day or base year of a child.

Akshararambha (aksharabhyasa)

(Panchama varshe aksharalekhanaarambhah)

Generally in the fifth year of  a child he is initiated thru this ritual to learn writing and pronouncing of  letters.

Upanayana

This ritual is performed by one’s father to  initiate his son  for Learning of Sacred texts.

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Vivaham ( Marriage ):

Marraiage  is performed as part of the Tradition that avers –  “ DHARMA   PRAJAA  SAMPATHYARDHAM,  RATI SUKHA SIDHYARDHAM STRIYA MUDVAHE “.

This means One has to Get married BY taking the hand of a woman ,

For ,

(i) the sake of Dharma – Social Duty/responsibility,

(ii) begetting Praja ( Children ) in order to Safeguarding and  preserving the genealogy of his ancestry , and

Here, some phases intermingle and overlap each other some times.

During Brahmacharyam one has to undergo traditional instruction in Scriptures of Learning.

And after finishing his studies he has to take permission from  his Teacher to enter into Gruhasthaasrama, that is, to get married one’s Guru has to give consent.

Good Characteristic of a Gruhastha is told by sages as follows:

“ Daya, Shradda, Kshama, Lajja, Tyaaga, Shaanthi, Krithajnata Gunah, Yasyabhavantyete gruhathaashramo mukhya Eva sah”

(iii)also to enjoy ,Rati Sukham , sensual pleasures of life.

According to the above concept, Primary responsibility is laid  on Individual’s  Social Duty/responsibility of following the Dharma ( Traditional Rule ).

Secondary Responsibility is laid on His responsibility in ensuring continuity of Genes of his ancestors by making union with a Girl to beget children ( Praja ).

It is said:

“ Prajayaahi manushyah poornah “ ( One who begets children only will attain his full membership In the Society.

And “ Aachaaryaaya priyam dhanamahrutya prajaatamtum mavyavatsetsih “ ( One who has finished his studies after paying the teacher taking permission from the teacher one has to take the hand of a Bride in order to preserve the continuity of the Lineage of his ancestry.

And,  it is interesting to note that Sensual or Sexual pleasure ( Rathi  Sukham )  is given Third place in the run up to  One’s Marriage. 

For ,

(i) the sake of Dharma – Social Duty/responsibility,

(ii) begetting Praja ( Children ) in order to Safeguarding and  preserving the genealogy of his ancestry , and

(iii)also to enjoy ,Rati Sukham , sensual pleasures of life.

According to the above concept, Primary responsibility is laid  on Individual’s  Social Duty/responsibility of following the Dharma ( Traditional Rule ).

Secondary Responsibility is laid on His responsibility in ensuring continuity of Genes of his ancestors by making union with a Girl to beget children ( Praja ).

It is said:

“ Prajayaahi manushyah poornah “ ( One who begets children only will attain his full membership In the Society.

And “ Aachaaryaaya priyam dhanamahrutya prajaatamtum mavyavatsetsih “ ( One who has finished his studies after paying the teacher taking permission from the teacher one has to take the hand of a Bride in order to preserve the continuity of the Lineage of his ancestry. And,  it is interesting to note that Sensual or Sexual pleasure ( Rathi  Sukham )  is given Third place in the run up to  One’s Marriage.