Completion of 60 years

  • By Jnana Prabodhini
  • September 2001


 The Ashramas in the Hindu tradition are four life stages with a graduated course of duties calculated to lead an individual, step by step, towards the realization of the Supreme spiritual ideal. Paul Deussen observe : The whole life should be passed in a series of gradually intensifying ascetic stages through which a man, more and more purified from all earthly attachment, should become fitted for his ‘astha’ ( ‘Home’ – the ultimate abode ) ….. The entire history of mankind does not produce much that approaches in grandeur to this thought.’

Brahmacharya – studenthood-is the first Ashrama, Grihastha – life of a house-holder-is the Second Ashrama, Vanaprastha – retirement from the house-holder’s life for the pursuit of higher goals – is the third Ashrama, and Sannyas – casting away all the worldly ties for the sake of self-realization – is the fourth Ashrama.

When a person completes sixty, he is on the verge of the third Ashrama i.e. Vanaprastha which literally means staying in the forest. In the modern context, it means handing over the family responsibility to the next generation and becoming free to take up some constructive work or a spiritual pursuit or a pursuit of one’s hobbies which had to be kept aside in the hustle and bustle of a householder’s life.

Normally, a husband completes sixty earlier than his wife. The rites may be performed for each separately when he or she completes the age. A husband participates in his wife’s Shashtyabdi and the wife participates in that of her husband.

 Any senior person with good character of any caste, creed or religion can conduct the rites.

This sacrament creates the right attitude in the minds of those for whom it is conduct, regarding the approaching age and how to make the retirement meaningful. We have all regards and respects for such retiring persons proceeding on their way to spiritual pursuit or to constructive work.

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