[German Version] (Sanskrit, masc. & neut., lit. "spiritual abode, stage of life"). Since roughly the 6th-4th century bce, "āśrama" has referred to the classic Hindu doctrine of stages of life, usually four. A common compound with
varṇa, "caste," is
varṇāśramadharma, "the law (Dharma) governing the four castes and four stages of life," which comprises the moral and legal norms of those Hindus with whom Brahmin priests are concerned, above all the three upper castes (brahmins, kßatriyas, vaiśyas) (Caste). The four stages in the classical àśrama system and their primary duties are: 1.