A Vanaprastha (Sanskrit वनप्रस्थ) is a person who is living in the forest as a hermit after partially giving up material desires. Also known as Sannyasin.

This word is generally used to denote a particular phase of life in the Vedic ashram system when a person is between the ages of 50 and 74. In this phase of life, the person is in a retreat from worldly life. He lives away from the city, in a jungle as a hermit, with as little material possessions as possible. This stage denotes a transition phase from material to spiritual life. It is the third of four phases of a man in the system, as prescribed by the Manusmriti for the Dwija castes, in the Hindu religion.There is some controversy over which castes (varna) were suppose to follow the Vedic ashram system. According to some texts, the system was only for the Brahmins. Women, of any caste, were not permitted to follow this system.


The term comes from the Sanskrit roots "vana", meaning forest, and "pras", meaning dwelling. Because one who is entering this stage of life is expected to learn to lose his worldly desires and retire to the forest, those entering this stage of life often retire to the forest.


When a householder is considered to be older or advanced in years, perceiving his skin become wrinkled, his turns hair gray, and has grandchildren, the time is said to have come for him to enter the third stage of life, or vanaprastha. It is said that he should now disengage himself from all family ties, except that his wife may accompany him, if she chooses, and retire to a lonely forest, taking with him only his sacred fires and the implements required for the daily and periodical worship. Clad in deerskin, a single piece of cloth, or in a bark garment, with his hair and nails uncut, the hermit is to subsist exclusively on food growing wild in the forest, such as roots, green herbs, wild rice, and grain. He must not accept gifts from any one, except of what may be absolutely necessary to maintain him; but with his own few possessions he should honor, to the best of his ability, those who visit his hermitage. His time must be spent in reading the metaphysical treatises of the Veda, in performing acts of worship, and in undergoing various kinds of austerities, with a view to mortifying his passions and producing in his mind an entire indifference to worldly objects. Having by these means succeeded in overcoming all sensual affections and desires, and in acquiring perfect equanimity towards everything around him, the hermit has fitted himself for the final and most exalted order, that of devotee or religious mendicant ("sannyasin").

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  • vanaprastha — ˌvənəˈprəstə noun ( s) Etymology: Sanskrit, literally, one who departs to the forest, from vana forest + pratiṣṭhati he sets forth, from prafoward, forth + tiṣṭhati he stands more at bandar, for, stand …   Useful english dictionary

  • vānaprastha-dharma — वानप्रस्थधर्म …   Indonesian dictionary

  • vānaprasthâ̱ṡrama — वानप्रस्थाश्रम …   Indonesian dictionary

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