A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavata Mahapuranam-5.7
5: Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharmam-7.
What the world is made of has to be understood; and we have to pass through all these structural essences of the world. Every experience of the world has to be passed through.
There are gifts that the world can give, and it can also give sorrows. It is not that everyone is born only to have a cosy life without any kind of difficulty, as the problems, sufferings, sorrows, and the joys of life are the obverse and reverse of the same coin.
No one can have only one side. It is not that we have to be always sorrowing throughout our life, nor also that we have to be enjoying throughout our life. One cannot be without the other; they exist as two sides of a single experience.
A time comes when we feel that it is not necessary for us to expect anything from the world. It is not that the world cannot give anything to us, nor that we cannot take; but it is not necessary to take. We can become so mature that we are contented within ourselves.
The contentment has matured into the ripe fruit of permanent experience, and then we live a life of what is generally called retirement. The life of retirement is not an idle life of sleeping; it is a further advanced state above the Grihastha, where the energy conserved and the potency that is inside is totally oriented towards a higher aspiration.
The Grihastha does not have time to always sit in meditation, though he has to do that also for a certain prescribed time. But now, in a period where we retire from active life of social existence—contact with people of a social or political nature—we do not just lie down and say we are retired and have no work to do.
The retirement is only from the distractions of life, not from the duties of life. That is to say, there is a higher duty than the duty of a Brahmacharin or a Grihastha, and this is traditionally designated as the Vanaprastha stage.
To be continued ...