The name Vanaprastha is a word derived from Sanskrit (Vano + Prasthati) It means “to go to the forest” or even “to be in the forest”
According to Indian spiritual tradition, Vanaprastha is the third stage of a person’s life
The first stage is Brahmacharya, the life of a student. At this stage a child is brought to the master’s house (Guru) and is initiated into a vigorous and disciplined course of study and practice of yoga and meditation. The first stage is Brahmacharya, the life of a student. At this stage a child is brought to the master’s house (Guru) and is initiated into a vigorous and disciplined course of study and practice of yoga and meditation.
The second stage is the family and social life, Grahaprastha. When the teacher believes that the student is able to face the world and start a family life, the child returns home to live in society.
The third stage, Vanaprastha, is to live in the forest. It acts as a link between the first two and the final stage. It is essentially an evidentiary stage for total surrender to Nature. When a person has fulfilled family and social duties he can go to the forest to meditate on self-realization and begin to answer the fundamental question: “who am I?”. The concept of “being in the forest” is very symbolic and extremely significant. It doesn’t mean that a person really has to go to the forest and live there. The forest can be seen as one’s inner self; therefore Vanaprastha is a return to the ego, an inner journey, a pilgrimage to oneself, in search of the true self, the great Purush. It is a stage of reconciliation, of a slow change towards a personal spiritual profile. This is the period in which one can peacefully discover the mission of one’s life. This is the stage where you learn to accept the contradictions of being. This is the stage that leads to true inner joy.
Il quarto stadio è il Sanyasa,totale consegna e distacco, in cui la persona che ha adempiuto ai propri doveri verso la società, si ritira per trovare il significato della propria esistenza (come una tartaruga che si ritira nella propria corazza). La persona ha bisogno di tempo e spazio per ritrovare la propria integrità e la pace interiore.
A classic division as described above is intended only for practical reasons to make people understand the value, meaning and purpose of life. All these four stages are actually mixed. The stage of being a student never ends. You can also learn on the deathbed. When one is committed to leading a family life, one can also live a withdrawn life. Every moment is good to return to the self. Even a child’s smile and life can enlighten us and show us the way to one’s true self.
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