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Chapter VIII

The Asramas regulating man's life are four: Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vaanaprastha and Sanyasa. They are all based on Grihasthaasrama. That is the chief Asrama, because the Grihastha fosters the other three. The Grihastha is the most important of all.

As all living beings depend upon air for their existence, the other three Asramas are dependent on the Grihastha. The Grihastha not only feeds and clothes the others, but he also provides facilities for the study of the Vedas. Manu, in his Dharma Sastras, has emphasised this point very clearly. He has declared that the Grihastha too attains Moksha; only he must follow strictly the Dharma laid down for his Asrama. There is no doubt that every one, to whichever Asrama he may belong, who adheres to the Dharma of that Asrama, will attain Moksha.

In the Manusmrithi, in the Naradaparivraajakopanishad and other such texts, it is mentioned that in some instances, Grihastha who adheres to Dharma is reckoned as the highest type of man, while in some other texts it is laid down that only sages who have renounced everything deserve worship. Therefore, a doubt may arise whether one can adopt the Grihasthaasrama which is the base and support of all or whether one has to take up the universally honoured Asrama of Sanyaasa, the path of Nivritthi. There is an intimate relation between the worship-worthy Grihastha and the saintly Paramahamsa. So, to whichever Asrama you may belong you do no wrong. All the four Asramas lead you to Moksha or Liberation if you follow strictly the Dharma as laid down for each and if you devote yourselves steadfastly to your uplift. Each Asrama is important at the particular stage; the conduct of the individual, his practice, that is the essential test. If one is engaged in Sad-aachaara, every Asrama is holy, every Asrama is commendable. That is the judgement of the Sastras. Next