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Gita Lesson - 0702: Four Lifestyles

Bhagavad Gita
Unit - 07
Lesson - 0702: Four Lifestyles
By Raja Subramaniyan

Every new product comes with a User Manual. The information in the User Manual helps the user to gain the maximum benefit from the product. The User Manual of the universe is the Vedas and if we follow the guidelines provided therein, we can live happily all the time.

The Vedas prescribe four different life styles.

Student Lifestyle: In the first stage of life, one should follow this lifestyle so that learning is facilitated. The focus of this stage is education.

Professional Lifestyle: In the second stage, one should enter the professional lifestyle and start earning money. One can marry and raise a family in this stage. The focus of this stage is material pursuit.

Retired Lifestyle: In the third stage, one should slowly withdraw from active life after properly handing over the responsibilities to the next generation. The focus of this stage is to switch over from material pursuit to spiritual pursuit.

Spiritual Lifestyle: In the final stage, one should develop devotion and pursue spiritual goals. Professional lifestyle should be fully abandoned. The focus of this stage is spiritual pursuit.

Teaching 27: Understand the role of four lifestyles

It should be noted that the Vedas prescribe these lifestyles as a broad outline and they are optional. One can choose to follow any lifestyle according to one's own likes and dislikes. However, once chosen, one should follow the rules that are prescribed for the lifestyle. For example, a student should not earn money.

Out of these four, the first (Student Lifestyle) is a preparation for the second (Professional Lifestyle) and the third (Retired Lifestyle) is a preparation for the fourth (Spiritual Lifestyle). The two primary lifestyles are the Professional Lifestyle and the Spiritual Lifestyle, which are conducive to material and spiritual pursuit respectively. Depending on our needs and preferences, one has to choose a lifestyle and this part is discussed in the next lesson.

It is possible to reach the destination of Joyful Living through any one of these two primary lifestyles.

Chapter 3: Karma Yoga [Verse: 03]

3.3 Lord Krishna answered, Oh Arjuna, in the beginning of the creation I have initiated twofold discipline for humankind. One is Professional Lifestyle to be followed by householders and the other is Spiritual Lifestyle suitable for monks.

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