Vanaprastha is a sanskrit word (Vano + Prasthati). It means “to go to the forest” or the act of “being in the forest”.
According to the Indian spiritual tradition, Vanaprastha is the third stage in the life of a person.
The first stage is Brahmacharya, the life of a student. At this stage, a child is brought to the house of the master (Guru) and the child is initiated to a vigorous and disciplined course of study and practice of yoga and meditation.
The second stage is Grahaprastha, family and social life. When the master finds the pupil fit to face the world and to begin a family life, the child is sent back to his family to begin life in the society.
The fourth stage is Sanyasa, total surrender and detachment, wherein the person, after having fulfilled his/her duties to society retires to find meaning in his/her own existence (like a tortoise withdrawing into its shell). The person needs time and space for one’s own integrity and inner peace.
The third stage, Vanaprastha is living in the forest. It works as a link between the first two and the final stage. It is essentially a preparatory stage to surrender everything to the Nature. When a person has fulfilled family and social duties, he/she can go to the forest to meditate towards self-realization and to begin to answer the basic question: who am I? The concept of “being in the forest” is very symbolic and highly significant. It is not that one should virtually go to the forest and live there. Forest can be seen as one’s own inner self. Therefore, Vanaprastha is a journey back to the self, an inner journey, a pilgrimage to the self, searching the real Self, the great Purush. It is a stage of reconciliation, of slow change to a personal spiritual profile. This is where one can peacefully find out the mission of one’s life. This is the stage in which one learns to accept the contradictions of being. This is the stage that leads to true inner joy.
Such a classical division as described above is meant only for practical reasons of making people understand the value, meaning and purpose of life. All these four stages are intermingled. The stage of being a student is never over. One can learn even on deathbed. When one is busy leading a family life, he/she can also live a renounced life. Every moment is good to make a journey back to the self. Maybe the smile and life of a little child can enlighten you and show you the way to your real Self.
We have taken the word Vanaprastha, because this word has got a profound meaning. This word is so common to each and everyone. Everyone passes through this stage continuously, yet it is one of the greatest challenges. It implies a personal responsibility, towards oneself and towards society.
The Logo of Vanaprastha also has a profound meaning.
It is a green V (of Vanaprastha) containing a chakra with a well elaborated and personalized Om at its center.
The chakra is presented as the wheel of life, the wheel of dharma (which means righteousness). The center and the
circumference of the chakra represent the law of unity in diversity. The different spokes of the chakra represent virtues like peace, love, truth, compassion, morality, dedication and dharma. It is so interesting to note that when the chakra rotates, its spokes are no more seen. When it rotates, the chakra resembles the cosmos
At the center of the chakra you see Om. Om is the Adisabda, a symbol of Indian spiritual tradition. It represents the trinitarian reality of God. It signifies the threefold cosmic functions of creation-preservation and consummation (srishti-srithi-laya), and it is the symbol of “universality and unity of divinity”. Om in our logo represents the source and the strength of our activities, the Nature. And Om is the universal sound.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
(The Bible, John 1, 1-5)
The Om itself consists of different symbols.
The Red Cross, a Christian symbol, stands for unconditional love. The cross is an open reality. It is the symbol of universal openness, since it is open to all the directions.
The Crescent and the Star is a very popular symbol most widely used as a symbol of the timing and the fixation of the date of ramsan / ramadan. This is a reminder of the prescribed times for prayer and fasting, the great acts of piety in Islam.
The Dove stands for universal peace between religions, races, man and nature.
Intentionally we use different religious and universal symbols in our logo to emphasize that we live a secular life. We respect all cultures and religions and at Vanaprastha everyone is free to follow his/her own spiritual path.