I guess they only had to follow Grihastha ashrama when they attained the appropriate age, learning and renunciation being denied to them.

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    learning is not denied to them. they were taught trades/skills - what's maybe known as handyman or labor work today. they were not oppressed into slavery like most 'modern' thinkers love to believe. only veda mantras were denied, that too because the austerity required to wield the power of the mantras would not suit their day to day work/life/interests. – ram Feb 3 at 3:13
  • @ram exactly! It is irony that to answer this question via one's own experience, that one can need only join corporate world and easily understand! – DirghaChintayanti Feb 3 at 3:37
  • In Saiva Siddhanta, Sanyasa is given only to Shudras. – Spark Sunshine Feb 3 at 3:51
  • @NaveenKick That's interesting, do they explain the reason(s)? – DirghaChintayanti Feb 3 at 3:58
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    @SudarshanaSuri I heard that those who are eligible for Siva Gayatri shouldn't be given Sanyasa. In olden days, when all people from upper three Varnas obtained Siva Gayatri, only Shudras remained without Gayatri initiation. As a result Sanyasam is given only to Shudras – Spark Sunshine Feb 3 at 4:30

Did Sudras have Varnashrama Dharma as opposed to Varna Dharma only?

Yes, Shudras are considered lifelong Grihasthas.

Shudras only belong in one Ashrama as per Gautama Smriti:

  1. Live with his wife (only)

'Another commentator explains the Sûtra to mean that he shall live with his wife only, and never enter another order (i.e. never become a student, hermit, or ascetic).'--Haradatta.

Some more verses:

Yogi-Yājñavalkya (Parāśaramādhava, p. 537).—‘There are four stages prescribed by the Veda for the Brāhmaṇa, three for the Kṣatriya, two for the Vaiśya and one for the Śūdra.’

Vāmanapurāṇa (Do.).—‘Four stages have been spoken of for the Brāhmaṇa; three only, i.e., those of the Householder, the Student, the Hermit, for the Kṣatriva; only two—Householdership and Hermitship—for the Vaiśya; only one, that of Householdership, is proper for the Śūdra.’

Smṛtyantara (Aparārka, p. 966; Parāśaramādhava, p. 538).—‘Having paid off the three debts, being freed from all notions of I and mine, the Brāhmaṇa, the Kṣatriya and the Vaiśya, [and not the Shudra] may go forth from the house.’

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