Is it recommended to enter the Vanaprastha Ashrama in the age of Kaliyuga, as per scriptures?
Please answer using authoritative texts.
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In S.B. 12:3:33, it is mentioned that Varna-ashrama vyavastha will be not followed.
The youngsters [the students] will be averse to vows and impure in their engagements, the householders will be beggars [with what they claim], the withdrawn souls [the middle-aged, with no nature left to retreat into] will be city-dwellers and the renounced order will greedily endeavor for wealth [be engaged in 'reli-business']
It is said in the scriptures that in the Kaliyuga, people become 'degenerate' and 'weaker'. Thus, certain activities/rituals which may be considered admissible in the previous yuga, same activities are to be avoided in the present age.
For the Kaliyuga, in regards to adherence to the concept of the four āśrama, viz. the brahmacāryam, gṇhastha, vānaprastha, and the sannyāsī, as far as I know, we get two slightly contradictory verses in two different scriptures - the Brahmavaiarta Purāṇa, and the Mahānirvāṇa Tantra.
As per this, in the age of Kali, the Karma-sannyāsī āśrama is to be avoided.
अश्वमेधं गवालम्भं सन्न्यासं पल-पैतृइकम् । ११२.क ।
देवरेण सुतोत्पत्तिं कलौ पञ्च विवर्जयेत् ॥ ११३.ख ॥
In this age of Kali, the following five kinds of karma-kāṇḍa practices are forbidden: offering a horse in sacrifice, offering a cow in sacrifice, accepting sannyāsa, offering oblations of flesh to the forefathers, and a man begetting children in his brother's wife.
Verse 4.115.113, Kṛṣṇa-janma-khaṇḍa Brahma Vaivarta Purāṇa
As per this text, the Brahmacārī āśrama and the Vānaprastha āśrama are deemed unsuitable for the Kaliyuga.
पुरेव कथितं तावत्कङिसम्भवचेषितय् ।
तपःस्वाध्यायहीनानां तृणामस्पायुषामपि ।
क्लेशत्रयांसाशक्तानां कुतो देहपरिश्रमः ॥७॥
- I have already spoken to Thee of the ways of men born in the Kali Age. Unused as they are to penance," and devoid of learning in the Vedas, incapable of doing the rites, short-lived, and incapable of strenuous effort, how can they endure bodily labour?
ब्रह्मचर्याश्रमो नास्ति वानप्रस्थोऽपि न प्रिये ।
गार्हस्थ्यो भैक्षुकश्चैव आश्रमौ द्वौ कलौ युगे ॥ ८ ॥
- O Beloved! there is in the Kali Age no Brahmachārya nor Vānaprastha. There are two stages only, those of Grihastha and Bhikshuka (mendicant).
English Translation by Arthur Avalon (Sir John Geroge Woodroffe)
Footnotes from M.N Dutt's translation of the Mahānirvāṇa Tantra:
For the above verses, we can understand them more efficiently in the light of the footnotes provided by another translator, M.N. Dutt on the above verses.
† We have spoken of four Asramas above, whereas only two are mentioned here. The reason of this seeming difference will be apparent when it is said, as actually it has been said in the next several slokas of the text, that in the Kali Yuga again-only two of the four Asramas are permissible, or more accurately, capable of being entered upon by the degenerate people. The Brahmacharyya and the l'anaprasthya, in consequence of the strictness of their rules and owing to their exacting an unrelenting observance of purity of mind, body and speech, can not, as a matter of course, be followed by the naturally immoral, impure and fallen beings nf the Kali Yuga.
§ Deha parısrama-means labour pertaining to the body— i.e., such performances as involve a considerable amount of physical labor These are the reasons for which the two Asramas, the first and the third have been interdicted in respect of the men of the Kalı Yuiga Both these Asramas dictate austerities winch require sound Physical and Moral powers-which are not to be found in the weak and effeminate people of the Kali Yuga of Bhikshukasrama is the same as the Samnyásásrama (vido supre sloka 2) Bhikshuka means a beggar, hence the state of mendicancy is there denoted.
As per the Brahmavaivarta Purāṇa, the sannyāsī āśrama is not mandated.
As per the Mahānirvāṇa Tantra, both Brahmacāryam and the Vānaprastha āśramas are beyond the capabilities of the Kaliyuga people, and thus not to be followed, or cannot be followed by the "degenerate people".