Based on the 4 goals of human life in Hinduism—Brahmacarya, Grhasthin, Vanaprastha, and Samnyasa—who would you say these goals are designed for and who do they leave out?

The four goals of human life in Hinduism seem primarily designed for cisgender, heterosexual, relatively affluent men.

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The four goals of human life in Hinduism seem to be primarily designed for cisgender, heterosexual men with some amount of affluence. Of course, to make such a claim credible, one will have to go through the four stages and explain why they’re mainly meant for these people and thus leave out other kinds of people.

The first stage, Brahmachari, could hypothetically apply to men of different sexualities because it doesn’t involve sex. Any man, regardless of their sexual orientation, could hypothetically fulfill their Brahmachari phase and commit themselves to study and cultivate the estimable traits of the guru. However, if this man did not come for a wealthy family, he might have other duties, like helping his family make ends meet.

As for women, regardless of their socioeconomic status, they would be left out of the Brahmachari stage because they would not be required to receive any kind of thorough, formal education.

The next stage, Grihastha, is aimed at men because it allows the man to move on from scholarship and go off into the world, experience pleasure, marry, start a family, and support and protect that family. This phase would possibly leave out non-heterosexual men. It would also leave out men who wish to remain celibate for the rest of their lives. Women, too, are left out, because they are not presented as the breadwinner but as the passive recipient of their husband’s assumed prowess.

The third phase, Vanaprastha, in contrast, might include women. A wife could choose to accompany her husband as he isolates himself from the world and focuses on spiritual issues.

The fourth phase, Sannyasa, will leave out lots of people regardless of their gender or sexuality. The only men who can pass onto this stage are the spiritual elite whose acute, disciplined intellects can handle the burden of turning their back on temporal life and dwelling exclusively with God.

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