Question 30. What is the Varna Ashrama system? Are these institutions sill in vogue today?
According to the Value system propounded by Hinduism, Moksha or spiritual emancipation is the ultimate goal of life. However, emotional weaknesses like
attachment and aversion or lust, greed, and anger always raise their ugly heads to thwart man's spiritual progress. With an uncanny insight into human psychology our ancient Rishis (sages) have prescribed a way of life which affords enough scope and opportunity for the fulfilment of all legitimate desires and instincts, while keeping them under a healthy check.
The concept of the four Purusharthas, when looked at from this angle, is a unique contribution. 'Earn well. Enjoy heartily, all the good things of life. But do it within the framework of Dharma (righteousness)' this is their invaluable message. If and when this principle is put into practice meticulously, all emotional weaknesses and disturbances will gradually get reduced and disappear, making one fit for Moksha.
In order to attain this Moksha, each individual is required to pass through four Ashramas or stages of life: Brahmacharya, Grahasthya, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa. Acquisition of knowledge both secular and spiritual as also self control are the primary objectives in Brahmacharya. In Grahasthya, the second stage, he is permitted to earn and enjoy legitimate pleasures of life within the perimeters of Dharma. He is, also required to practise Dana (giving gifts) to deserving persons.