Question: [There are four stages in human life – studentship, family life, retired life, and renounced life.] How does Family Life rank among these four – the highest or the lowest?

Rishi Dayananda: All four stages are equally noble when we consider the duties involved in each of them. However, as Manu says:

Yathaa nadee nadaah sarve

Saagare yaanti san-sthitim

Tathai’vaa’shraminah sarve

Grihasthe yaanti san-sthitim – 6:90


Just as all rivers, both big and small, find a resting place in the ocean, even so, people of all stages of life find protection and sustenance from householders.

Yathaa vaayum samaa’shritya

Vartante sarva-jantavah

Tathaa grihastham aashritya

Vartante sarva aashramaah – 3:77


Just as all living creatures are alive by receiving support from air, in the same way, people from all stages of life find sustenance from those living in families.

Yasmaat trayo’pyaa’shramino

Daanenaa’nnena chaa’nwaham

Grihasthenai’va dhaaryante

Tasmaaj jyeshthaa’shramo grihee – 3:78


Family Life is considered the highest because people of the three other Orders – students, retirees and Swamis – receive daily support from householders in the form of food and other gifts.

Sa sandhaaryah prayatnena

Swargam akshayam ich-chhataa

Sukham che’he’ch-chhataa nityam

Yo’dhaaryo dur-bale’ndriyaih – 3:79


Anyone who desires uninterrupted happiness in this life and the imperishable bliss of Emancipation must faithfully discharge the duties of Family Life. These duties cannot be properly discharged by people who are cowardly and possess weak bodies.

Conclusion: As we can see, all responsibilities in life are dependent on Marriage and Family Life to be fulfilled. In the absence of Family Life as an institution, new generations of [civilized] human beings would be called into question, and this would impact negatively all other stages – of student life, retired life, and renounced life. Anyone who finds fault with Marriage and Family Life is worthy of contempt. Anyone who appreciates Marriage and Family Life is worthy of commendation. However, we need to bear in mind that people can be happy in Family Life only when husband and wife are happy with each other, are educated, industrious in their dealings, and are fully familiar with the ways of the world and with what needs to be done.

The observance of chastity in student life, the successful completion of one’s education, and the practice of self-choice in Marriage are principal causes of happiness in Family Life.

By Dr. Satish Prakash