According to Hinduism, the goal of life in this world is to realize God and reach Him to escape the cycle of birth and death forever. To this end, the human life is divided in to four stages. The first stage, that of celibacy and learning, lasts until about 25 years of age. The second stage is that of a married house holder. The house holder is held in great esteem because he is the one who makes the other stages of life possible by earning money and supporting the society. The house holder and his family are considered to be very essential for the well being of the society. The third stage is that of retirement commencing after one’s children are grown up. The last stage is of complete renunciation of the world in which one seeks God full-time in a forest and living on whatever one obtains from day to day.
The Means of Attaining God
The Hindu religion is very flexible and understands that humans differ vastly in their psychological makeup. Consequently, no one doctrine is likely to appeal to all. According to Hinduism, there are three types of temperaments in humans and there are three different approaches to suit these different emotional makeup of humans. The Hindus believe that God can be reached either by Jnana Yoga, the path of knowledge, contemplation and meditation or by Karma Yoga, the path of work and duty or by Bhakti Yoga, the path of worship, prayer and service to God. No one path is superior to the others. It is simply finding what comes naturally to oneself. Most often one finds that a combination will work best. That it is possible to reach God by any one of these paths is amply proved by the life stories of Saints who lived in the country from very ancient times to the present day and practiced and preached one or the other of these paths as the way to God.