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Following are the four stages of life described for a Hindu male:

  1. Brahmachari
  2. Grihastha
  3. Vanaprastha
  4. Sanyasa

    • Does this only apply to males?
    • If so, what about females?
    • Do females have a different (if any) description of life stages like this?
  • Just for info, these stages apply to Kshatriyas and Brahmanas. And as Kaladharma few practices are exceptional in Kaliyuga, like we can't go to Vanaprastha these days ;). – Bharadwaj Jul 9 '14 at 14:15
  • Vanaprastha and Sannyasin may not be considered in sequence, because a man can switch to either of these two stages after Gruhastha. – Bharadwaj Jul 9 '14 at 14:23
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    It applies to women too. Except that women may learn different skills then men at the Brahmacharya stage and they are called "Brahmacharini". Goddess Durga is called as Brahmacharini which means she is dedicated to the knowledge of Brahman. – Bharat Jul 9 '14 at 14:44
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    I don't think there's any distinction between man and women in the four stages of life. But anyway Manusmriti tells entirely different story.. – Vineet Menon Jul 9 '14 at 15:08
  • @Bharat I agree with you. Please explain this as an answer. Stages are common for male/female, but goals and skills are different. Female is considered as Half of men. Means half life partner. – Mr. P Aug 2 '14 at 19:09
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पिता रक्षति कौमारे भर्ता रक्षति यौवने। रक्षन्ति स्थविरे पुत्रा न स्त्री स्वातन्त्र्यमर्हति॥ (9.3)

This was told by Manusmruthi about women's freedom. This Sanskrit sloka (verse) explains stages of women's life.

  1. Koumari - childhood
  2. Yovane - adulthood the third stage is old stage.
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For men and women the stages of life are similar. Both have to undergo the same levels of life.

Vedic path refers to the three stages of a person:

The initial stage, which is Brahmacharya: the study and learning of Vedas and Gayathri Upasana, and worship of Agni through oblations twice a day.

The second stage is the Grihastashrama (getting into marital life) and offering oblations to Agni by performing Agni upasana , Yagas , etc. along with the life partner which are meant for the evolution of one’s self in the spiritual realm.

The Vanaprastha is the continuation of Grihastha stage along with the wife in a secluded place and continuing agni and other worship. After completing the houshold duties the couple may retire to a forest.

The final stage is offering one’s body after death to the Agni that was worshiped.

It should be understood that vanaprastha is the continuation of grahastha stage after discharging the duties and retiring along with the wife and continuing agni upasana, penance, and nitya karmas.

To lead a life as prescribed by the Vedas, here is the system to be followed by one and all:

Initiation into Gayathri Upasana Study of the Vedas or understanding the messages given in them.

Agni upasana as part of Gayathri Upasana and vedic study (BRAHMACHARYA).

Getting into married life and continuing Agni Worship as a couple – Grahastha Dharma.

Offering one’s body in the fire worshipped by the couple (The concept behind the ritual followed for cremation in the present day)

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