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Understanding Scriptures

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 Blooming Stars


             The four ashrams presented here neatly order the life of a person, indicating the tasks and duties characteristic of each ashram. They are not exclusive of one another; they amply overlap. While elements of all ashrams may be present in any one ashram, the focus or emphasis is on one predominant aspect. The revised and modified Chathurashram parampara (the traditional four stages of life) is described here. They are:

1.Satyashram:Especially in the modern culture of lie, bribe, corruption and ridiculous pretensions, that is universal and spreading ever ingeniously for gaining material wealth and advancement, and special privileges and considerations, sathyashram focusing on truth and integrity can play a vital role. This focus really is the need of the day before our current civilization turns us all into barbarians and monsters literally killing and devouring one another as the recent (May 2012) revelations of political murders in Kerala have indicated. In this stage preparation and training for life are given by parents, teachers, religious preceptors, and other important family members. The person is trained in necessary requirements and skills. In olden days a person is supposed to have ideally lived especially after the age of five with others in a gurukulam (the household of a guru) in strict supervision. Right living was modeled by the guru. It was truly an apprenticeship to life.

            In this very important impressionable and imprinting stage, a child or youth is well-protected from harmful influences causing confusion and distraction. Basic education comprising of reading, writing, and computing (arithmetic) is given; basic skills for a meaningful and holistic life are imparted. Nutritional eating, basic hygiene, clean and healthy environment are taught. A value system that can benefit individuals and society is instilled. A special emphasis is placed on common good and social obligations. A work ethic that combines adequate fun and leisure is emphasized. Great importance is given to the formation of a conscience guided by dharma (righteousness, duty) that can not only discern what is right and wrong for oneself but also enable for all persons the enjoyment of the fundamental rights of equality, liberty, fraternity/sorority, justice, and freedom of expression and association. Persons are trained in self-esteem leading to acceptance of themselves and others as they are, unconditional positive regard for others as members of the human family, human relations, non-violent conflict resolution, scrupulous avoidance of violence and abuse, tolerance of healthy differences in belief systems, customs and manners, clothing styles and food habits in a multi-cultural society.

            In this ashram one is provided opportunities for the full development of the body, mind, and spirit. A person emerging out of this ashram has a good grasp of the golden rule: “Do to others what you like others to do to you”. This person is committed, positive, and full of zest. He/she is able to work and have fun, to enjoy and celebrate life, and to love and be loved. He/she, above all, is characterized by an intense search for truth and respect for others. This person is a gentleman/gentlewoman always professional and ethical in conduct and business affairs. One is discrete, respects others’ rights, keeps boundaries and personal space, does not take advantage of others, is reliable, and trustworthy. One also honors trust entrusted to him/her. In this ashram one masters a solid value system, virtues, and skills necessary for a meaningful, purposeful, peaceful, and happy life.

            From three years to twenty years of age may be considered to be the critical years in terms of forming and solidifying one’s personality. During these years, life is modeled in terms of the best humanity can offer. One gets a clear grasp of one’s purpose in life. One makes a suitable election of state in keeping with one’s abilities, interests, and aptitude. Thus one gets clarity with regard to one’s vocation. One is trained to discern with regard to pros and cons, and make critical choices in life. In a world of consumerism, onslaught of violence, and exploitation of sex one is able to stand on one’s own solid ground. In a culture of allurements constantly bombarded by television, world-wide web (internet), and mobile, one lives according to one’s own values. The age-old sathyam vada (speak the truth) and dharmam chara (walk the righteous path) become so ingrained in oneself that these two become one’s second nature. To these two I might add a good measure of sneham bhava (be love), a love that casts out all fear. A solid spirituality indicative of unity of humanity under one God or Supreme Truth will color everything one does. The duration of this ashram may be from 3 and half years up to 22 to 25 years.


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