The first stage – 0-21 (0-25) years – Brahmacharya/Student – the person lives as a unmarried celibate, studies with a guru; the focus is on education, character development, development of skills
The second stage – 21-42 (25-50) years – Grahasta/Householder – the person marries, establishes a household, enters into a career, becomes an integral part of the world of activity
The third stage – 42-63 (50-75) years – Vanaprastha/Hermitage – the person leaves the household and goes into the forest (or now in modern society, a quieter retreat), where he/she lives a life of study, mentorship, prayer, and meditation.
The fourth stage – 63-84+ (75-100+) years – Sanyasa/Renunciate – the person leaves all worldly activity and engages the whole force of personality toward spiritual development and upliftment. One can become a guru at this point.
- Thomas Armstrong is author of The Human Odyssey: Navigating the 12 Stages of Life (to order from Amazon, click here).