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A wife, O Maghavan is home and dwelling... (Rig Veda 3.53.4)
Grhastha, or householder life (grha - household), is the second spiritual stage (asrama) in the varnasrama system. It lasts from 25th to 50th year of one's life and during this time the grhastha lives together with his wife and children in their house and leads a religious (dharma) and productive (artha) life which enables a certain amount of enjoyment (kama). Among his traditional duties are five domestic sacrifices (panca-mahayajna) which include ancestor worship (sraddha).
Grhastha asrama is the only economically productive asrama and therefore the householders have to support other asramas by giving charity (dana) in exchange for spiritual knowledge. Another duty of householders is hospitality to guests (especially by distributing food).
"The householder is of two kinds: udasina and sadhaka. The householder who
endeavors to maintain the house is called sadhaka. "After repaying three debts
(to sages, to gods and to the manes) and renouncing wife and wealth, he who
seeks salvation alone, is called udasina."
(Garuda Purana 1.49.9-10)
The purpose of grhastha life is to become gradually detached, renounce the material life and adopt the retired life of vanaprastha.
The scriptures distinguish between grhastha (one who lives a householder life according to the scriptures), and grhamedhi (attached, materialistic householder who misuses his material facilities for unlimited sensual enjoyment). The first one is praised because he follows the path of spiritual elevation but the other is condemned.
Further information: Manu-samhita (ch. 3,4,10) etc.
(the difference between grhasthas and grhamedhis is obvious)
"The attached householder remains in his family life, which is full of diplomacy
and politics. Always spreading miseries and controlled by acts of sense gratification,
he acts just to counteract the reactions of all his miseries, and if he can
successfully counteract such miseries, he thinks that he is happy."
"Pretentiously religious householder life, in which one is attracted to material
happiness and thus also attracted to the superficial explanation of the Vedas,
robs one of all intelligence and attaches one to fruitive activities as all
"Maharaja Prthu, who was very opulent due to the prosperity of his entire empire,
remained at home as a householder. Since he was never inclined to utilize his
opulences for the gratification of his senses, he remained unattached, exactly
like the sun, which is unaffected in all circumstances."
"Those who are interested only in a so-called beautiful life--namely remaining
as a householder entangled by sons and a wife and searching after wealth--think
that such things are life's ultimate goal. Such people simply wander in different
types of bodies throughout this material existence without finding out the ultimate
goal of life."
"The woman continued: In this material world, a householder's life brings all
kinds of happiness in religion, economic development, sense gratification and
the begetting of children, sons and grandsons. After that, one may desire liberation
as well as material reputation. The householder can appreciate the results of
sacrifices, which enable him to gain promotion to superior planetary systems.
All this material happiness is practically unknown to the transcendentalists.
They cannot even imagine such happiness."
"The woman continued: According to authorities, the householder life is pleasing
not only to oneself but to all the forefathers, demigods, great sages, saintly
persons and everyone else. A householder life is thus beneficial."
"Even if he goes from forest to forest, one who is not self-controlled must
always fear material bondage because he is living with six co-wives--the mind
and knowledge-acquiring senses. Even householder life, however, cannot harm
a self-satisfied, learned man who has conquered his senses."
"Those who are interested in reviving Krsna consciousness and increasing their
love of Godhead do not like to do anything that is not related to Krsna. They
are not interested in mingling with people who are busy maintaining their bodies,
eating, sleeping, mating and defending. They are not attached to their homes,
although they may be householders. Nor are they attached to wives, children,
friends or wealth. At the same time, they are not indifferent to the execution
of their duties. Such people are interested in collecting only enough money
to keep the body and soul together."
"Every year the plowman plows over his grain field, completely uprooting all
weeds. Nonetheless, the seeds lie there and, not being completely burned, again
come up with the plants sown in the field. Even after being plowed under, the
weeds come up densely. Similarly, the grhastha-asrama [family life] is a field
of fruitive activity. Unless the desire to enjoy family life is completely burned
out, it grows up again and again. Even though camphor may be removed from a
pot, the pot nonetheless retains the aroma of camphor. As long as the seeds
of desire are not destroyed, fruitive activities are not destroyed."
"In household life one is ordered to execute many yajnas and fruitive activities,
especially the vivaha-yajna [the marriage ceremony for sons and daughters] and
the sacred thread ceremony. These are all the duties of a grhastha, and they
are very extensive and troublesome to execute. They are compared to a big hill
over which one must cross when one is attached to material activities. A person
desiring to cross over these ritualistic ceremonies certainly feels pains like
the piercing of thorns and pebbles endured by one attempting to climb a hill.
Thus the conditioned soul suffers unlimitedly."
"King Gaya gave full protection and security to the citizens so that their
personal property would not be disturbed by undesirable elements. He also saw
that there was sufficient food to feed all the citizens. [This is called posana.]
He would sometimes distribute gifts to the citizens to satisfy them. [This is
called prinana.] He would sometimes call meetings and satisfy the citizens with
sweet words. [This is called upalalana.] He would also give them good instructions
on how to become first-class citizens. [This is called anusasana.] Such were
the characteristics of King Gaya's royal order. Besides all this, King Gaya
was a householder who strictly observed the rules and regulations of household
life. He performed sacrifices and was an unalloyed pure devotee of the Supreme
Personality of Godhead. He was called Mahapurusa because as a king he gave the
citizens all facilities, and as a householder he executed all his duties so
that at the end he became a strict devotee of the Supreme Lord. As a devotee,
he was always ready to give respect to other devotees and to engage in the devotional
service of the Lord. This is the bhakti-yoga process. Due to all these transcendental
activities, King Gaya was always free from the bodily conception. He was full
in Brahman realization, and consequently he was always jubilant. He did not
experience material lamentation. Although he was perfect in all respects, he
was not proud, nor was he anxious to rule the kingdom."
"What person too attached to household life due to being unable to control
his senses can liberate himself? An attached householder is bound very strongly
by ropes of affection for his family [wife, children and other relatives]."
"How can a person who is most affectionate to his family, the core of his heart
being always filled with their pictures, give up their association? Specifically,
a wife is always very kind and sympathetic and always pleases her husband in
a solitary place. Who could give up the association of such a dear and affectionate
wife? Small children talk in broken language, very pleasing to hear, and their
affectionate father always thinks of their sweet words. How could he give up
their association? One's elderly parents and one's sons and daughters are also
very dear. A daughter is especially dear to her father, and while living at
her husband's house she is always in his mind. Who could give up that association?
Aside from this, in household affairs there are many decorated items of household
furniture, and there are also animals and servants. Who could give up such comforts?
The attached householder is like a silkworm, which weaves a cocoon in which
it becomes imprisoned, unable to get out. Simply for the satisfaction of two
important senses--the genitals and the tongue--one is bound by material conditions.
How can one escape?"
"Sex life is compared to the rubbing of two hands to relieve an itch. Grhamedhis,
so-called grhasthas who have no spiritual knowledge, think that this itching
is the greatest platform of happiness, although actually it is a source of distress.
The krpanas, the fools who are just the opposite of brahmanas, are not satisfied
by repeated sensuous enjoyment. Those who are dhira, however, who are sober
and who tolerate this itching, are not subjected to the sufferings of fools
"All the rules and regulations apply equally to the householder and the sannyasi,
the member of the renounced order of life. The grhastha, however, is given permission
by the spiritual master to indulge in sex during the period favorable for procreation."
"Narada Muni replied: My dear King, those who stay at home as householders
must act to earn their livelihood, and instead of trying to enjoy the results
of their work themselves, they should offer these results to Krsna, Vasudeva.
How to satisfy Vasudeva in this life can be perfectly understood through the
association of great devotees of the Lord."
"A grhastha must associate again and again with saintly persons, and with great
respect he must hear the nectar of the activities of the Supreme Lord and His
incarnations as these activities are described in Srimad-Bhagavatam and other
Puranas. Thus one should gradually become detached from affection for his wife
and children, exactly like a man awakening from a dream."
"Even if one is a householder rather than a brahmacari, a sannyasi or a vanaprastha,
one should not endeavor very hard for religiosity, economic development or satisfaction
of the senses. Even in householder life, one should be satisfied to maintain
body and soul together with whatever is available with minimum endeavor, according
to place and time, by the grace of the Lord. One should not engage oneself in
"The process of chanting the holy name of the Lord is so powerful that by this
chanting even householders [grhasthas] can very easily gain the ultimate result
achieved by persons in the renounced order. Maharaja Yudhisthira, I have now
explained to you that process of religion."
"Lord Ramacandra took a vow to accept only one wife and have no connection
with any other women. He was a saintly king, and everything in His character
was good, untinged by qualities like anger. He taught good behavior for everyone,
especially for householders, in terms of varnasrama-dharma. Thus He taught the
general public by His personal activities."
"This is the most auspicious path for a religious householder of the twice-born
orders - to selflessly worship the Personality of Godhead with wealth honestly
"An intelligent person should learn to renounce his desire for wealth by performing
sacrifices and acts of charity. He should learn to renounce his desire for wife
and children by experiencing family life. And he should learn to renounce his
desire for promotion to a higher planet in his next life, O saintly Vasudeva,
by studying the effects of time. Self-controlled sages who have thus renounced
their attachment to household life go to the forest to perform austerities."
"A householder may approach his wife for sex only at the time prescribed for
begetting children. Otherwise, the householder should practice celibacy, austerity,
cleanliness of mind and body, satisfaction in his natural position, and friendship
toward all living entities. Worship of Me is to be practiced by all human beings,
regardless of social or occupational divisions."
Divorce: compilation of references
Indradyumna Swami - lecture on vivaha
Srila Prabhupada's quotes on marriage
Grihastha Manual Index (Radhanatha M., .pdf)
Grihastha Manual Contents (Radhanatha M., .pdf)include("../sys/bottom.php"); ?>