Brahmacharya, as taught in the Vedas, is the first of four stages in man’s life—the period of strict chastity as a celibate religious student. The second stage (garhasthya) is that of the married householder with worldly responsibilities. The third (vanaprastha) is retirement and meditation, the life of a hermit or forest-dweller. The final stage (sannyasa) is that of renunciation, when one is bound by neither work nor desire but follows the path of a wanderer, freely pursuing knowledge of Brahman.
Pearls of Wisdom, vol. 28, no. 11, March 17, 1985.