I want to know more about the tradition of vanaprastha. What are the norms of vanaprastha and who are entitled to it ? What are it's differences with Sanyasa ?

also which texts they follow, do they follow aranyaka of Veda ? : Asked in comment


1 Answer 1


Vanaprastha is the 3rd Ashrama in the Hindu way of life. And, it is optional. Anyone completing the duties of the household life can take it up.

See the following verses from Chapter 6 of the Manu Smriti:

6.1. A twice-born Snataka, who has thus lived according to the law in the order of householders, may, taking a firm resolution and keeping his organs in subjection, dwell in the forest, duly (observing the rules given below)

6.2. When a householder sees his (skin) wrinkled, and (his hair) white, and. the sons of his sons, then he may resort to the forest.

6.3. Abandoning all food raised by cultivation, and all his belongings, he may depart into the forest, either committing his wife to his sons, or accompanied by her.

6.4. Taking with him the sacred fire and the implements required for domestic (sacrifices), he may go forth from the village into the forest and reside there, duly controlling his senses.

6.5. Let him offer those five great sacrifices according to the rule, with various kinds of pure food fit for ascetics, or with herbs, roots, and fruit.

6.6. Let him wear a skin or a tattered garment; let him bathe in the evening or in the morning; and let him always wear (his hair in) braids, the hair on his body, his beard, and his nails (being unclipped).

6.7. Let him perform the Bali-offering with such food as he eats, and give alms according to his ability; let him honour those who come to his hermitage with alms consisting of water, roots, and fruit.

6.8. Let him be always industrious in privately reciting the Veda; let him be patient of hardships, friendly (towards all), of collected mind, ever liberal and never a receiver of gifts, and compassionate towards all living creatures.

6.9. Let him offer, according to the law, the Agnihotra with three sacred fires, never omitting the new-moon and full-moon sacrifices at the proper time.

So, while the Sannyasi abandons wife, family, Vedic fire, Vedas, mantras and all rituals, the Vanaprasthi does not do anything of that sort. He may take his wife with him to the forest. He must take his sacred fire with him and he must also perform daily all the rituals directed towards pleasing the Deities and Manes without failure.

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