Sagun Nirgun

20: Grihasthashram (Household)

‘Ashram’ is derived from the word ‘shram’ meaning ‘hard work’. ‘A place where one performs his duties diligently and sincerely’ is referred to as ‘Ashram.’ Four ‘Ashrams’ have been described in the scriptures, namely, ‘Brahmacharya’, ‘Grihastha’, ‘Vanaprastha’, and ‘Sannyasa’. The Smritis state that among these, ‘Grihasthashram’ is prime. Just as all living beings require air, ‘Grihasthashram’ supports the other three ‘ashrams.’

Human beings are dependent on many things. The things he depends on is his samsara and transactions he does daily is karma. Thus, as long as the body exists, samsara exists and hence karma also exists. There is no escape from this samsara. So how are we to do our duties and realize the highest goal of human birth? The saints give us the answer. They took up ‘Grihasthashram’ and showed us how to we to live in this samsara and achieve liberation. They advised, “True service is to God lies in doing our duties sincerely and offering the fruits of all karma at God’s feet.”

Samsara and spirituality go hand in hand. Indeed, ‘a welcoming home that has warmth, love, care, healthy food, obedient servants, respect for one another and is devotional is truly successful and blessed by God.’ Such a person is never disheartened in the face of trouble.  A devotee of Shree Rama lives on the banks of the Gomati River’. After retirement, he decided to use part of his savings in donating many holy books. His resolution is to donate 1.3 billion holy books and he is working towards fulfilling his resolution. This is truly a grand inspiration to us all.

In conclusion, ‘Grihasthashram’ allows one to be freed from the three types of debts: to Devatas, Pitr and ‘Rishi-Guru.’  Hence, Shree Krishna has praised ‘Grihasthashram’ and said to Uddhava, “Grihasthashram is the easiest among four ashrams. Here one need only offer all services unto Me, and they will achieve Me.”


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