By Jaya Gaurasundara dasa The word vanaprastha is composed of the words vana, meaning “forest” and prastha, meaning “to go,” so a vanaprastha is “One has gone to the forest.” Vanaprastha is an asrama in the Vedic varnasrama system. An asrama can be both a physical and mental place and refers to “a place where one cultivates spiritual life, where culture of the spiritual is foremost.” The vanaprastha order is complete retirement from householder life, a time when one prepares oneself for going back to Godhead. It requires shedding one’s material attachments to become free of the repetition of birth and death (samsara). Every man and woman should be trained for this purpose.
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