Vanaprastha, aka: Vānaprastha, Vana-prastha; 9 Definition(s)


Vanaprastha means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Arthashastra (politics and welfare)

Vanaprastha (वनप्रस्थ), or “life in the forest” refers to the third of the four Āśramas (“stages of life”).—The division of one’s life into the four āśramas (eg., Vanaprastha) and their respective dharmas, was designed, in principle at least, to provide fulfilment to the person in his social, moral and spiritual aspects, and so to lead to harmony and balance in the society.

(Source): Knowledge Traditions & Practices of India: Indian Ethics: Individual and Social
Arthashastra book cover
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Arthashastra (अर्थशास्त्र, arthaśāstra) literature concerns itself with the teachings (shastra) of economic prosperity (artha) statecraft, politics and military tactics. The term arthashastra refers to both the name of these scientific teachings, as well as the name of a Sanskrit work included in such literature. This book was written (3rd century BCE) by by Kautilya, who flourished in the 4th century BCE.


Vānaprastha (वानप्रस्थ).—(House-holder in the forest). One of the four stages of life. (See under Āśrama).

(Source): Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Vānaprastha (वानप्रस्थ).—A sādhu: fit for Śrāddha feeding;1 duties of: living on fruits and roots; clothing with skins and barks of trees; bathing morning and evening; performance of homa; life in forest;2 the third order of life.3

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 32. 26; III. 7. 317; 9. 70; 15. 16 and 35.
  • 2) Vāyu-purāṇa 8. 176; Viṣṇu-purāṇa III. 9. 18-23. Matsya-purāṇa 225. 3.
  • 3) Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 1. 30.

1b) The third āśrama;1 adopted by Yayāti after Pūru's coronation; living on fruits and roots and always in peace, having conquered his mind and anger, was engaged for 1,000 years in offering oblations to Pitṛs and Devas and in fire rites and entertaining guests; performed penance feeding on water alone for 3 years, on air for a year, in the midst of fire for another year and standing on one leg for six months; reached heaven.2

  • 1) Vāyu-purāṇa 59. 25; 104. 23.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 35. 1-2, 13-17; 40. 1, 4 and 7.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Vānaprastha (वानप्रस्‍थ): The third stage of the dvija's life, when he is required to relinquish worldly responsibilities to his heirs and retires to the woods with his wife for an anchorite's life. A person who is living in the forest as a hermit after giving up material desires.

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

Vānaprastha (वानप्रस्थ).—Retired family life, in which one quits home to cultivate renunciation and travels from holy place to holy place in preparation for the renounced order of life; the third order of Vedic spiritual life; A retired householder. A member of the third spiritual devision of life, according to the Vedic social system of four āśramas.

(Source): ISKCON Press: Glossary

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Vānaprastha (वानप्रस्थ) refers to the third of the four stages of a layman (āśrama) according to Cāmuṇḍarāya (940–989 A.D.) in his Caritra-sāra. The vānaprastha is one who has not taken the vow of nudity but wears one piece of cloth and engages in moderate asceticism. (This would perhaps correspond to the ailaka layman of later times). Cāmuṇḍarāya, who was a Digambara Jain, has taken over the Hindu concept of the four āśramas, which, following Jinasena, he terms brahmacārin, gṛhastha, vānaprastha, and bhikṣu.

According to Medhāvin (fifteenth century) the vānaprastha—here equivalent to a kṣullaka—is also styled apavāda-liṅgin and the bhikṣu (as) utsarga-liṅgin.

(Source): Jaina Yoga
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

vanaprastha (वनप्रस्थ).—n S The woods or wilderness as a place of retirement and seclusion for the Brahman of the vānaprastha or hermit order. (The word, although signifying generally Wilderness-place, obtains the special application above shown.)

--- OR ---

vānaprastha (वानप्रस्थ).—m (S) The Brahman of the third order who has passed through the conditions of student and householder, and has left his house and family for lonely meditation in woods and wilds,--the hermit or anchorite. 2 also vānaprasthya n S The āśrama or order of the hermit-Brahman.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

vānaprastha (वानप्रस्थ).—m The Brâhman in the third stage of life-the hermit.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Vānaprastha (वानप्रस्थ).—[vāne vanasamūhe pratiṣṭhate sthā-ka]

1) A Brāhmaṇa in the third stage of his religious life; तपसा कर्षितोऽत्यर्थं यस्तु ध्यानपरो भवेत् । संन्यासीह स विज्ञेयो वानप्रस्थाश्रमे स्थितः (tapasā karṣito'tyarthaṃ yastu dhyānaparo bhavet | saṃnyāsīha sa vijñeyo vānaprasthāśrame sthitaḥ) ||

2) An anchorite, a hermit.

3) The Madhuka tree.

4) The Palāśa tree.

Derivable forms: vānaprasthaḥ (वानप्रस्थः).

--- OR ---

Vanaprastha (वनप्रस्थ).—a. retiring into a wood, leading the life of a hermit.

-sthaḥ a wood situated on a tableland.

Vanaprastha is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms vana and prastha (प्रस्थ).

(Source): DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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