The concept of āśrama is one of the most often cited features of Hindu doctrine on how one should live one’s life. According to the Smārta tradition (that segment of Hindus whose primary scriptures are the Smṛtis, authoritative codes of precepts taught by legendary sages imbued with divine wisdom), the whole edifice of classical dharma is commonly summed up as varṇāśrama dharma, or dharma in accordance with birth-class (varṇa) and mode of life (āśrama). In other words, the duties and rights of individuals vary depending on their caste status and their current mode or stage of life. Apart from this usage, the term āśrama can also denote a place of residence set aside for a life of piety, usually more or less removed from society.
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