Mahashrama - the unifying cycle for Humanity

The concept of the Mahashrama cycle, derived from ancient Indian philosophy, is a key
‘Image’ that we humans carry with us throughout tour lives and across all fields of human
endeavor. The original Ashrama system (upon which Mahashrama, or greater-ashrama is
based) divides a person’s existence into four segments, Brahmacharya (student-hood),
Grihastha (householder, economic engine), Vanaprastha (service leadership) and Sanyas
(spirituality). Although we retain the same four segments from the original Ashrama, the
Mahashrama formulation adds in the competitive aspects of the first two segments, thus
bringing it up to date with the highly competitive reality we see around us today.
The applicability of Mahashrama, as noted in the book outline, ranges from our individual
human lives, to corporations, nations and entire civilizations. The core message of the book,
of course, is that the learnings from Mahashrama is key to our very civilizational destiny as
humans - and defines a framework by which we can progressively build higher and higher
levels of 'humanity' leading all the way to the threshold of 'divinity' referred to as the 'Supra
Human Entity' -  or Supra for short. The interesting thing about Mahashrama is that the cycle
builds up progressively, with one having to master Brahmacharya before embarking on
Grihastha, and so on all the way to Sanyas. A typical age when people can be expected to
make these transitions in modern society with a strong emphasis on education is trending as
The age ranges in ancient India was divided in 20 year segments, and the rise to about 25
years is more evident in the technologically (and educationally) advanced societies. Even
then, by the time it comes time to move into the Vanaprastha segment, a lot of people are so
set in their Grihastha ways - that the transition never really happens. Instead, people often
find themselves going back to the footloose ways of Brahmachaya or even starting new family
units as they try to come to grips with their mid life crisis. The porosity from Grihastha to
Vanaprastha largely determines our ability to transcend humanity and lay the first steps
towards divinity as a civilization.

As noted earlier, the ability to amplify the Mahashrama cycle into ever expanding spheres of
existence is a key capability that allows us humans to bridge the gap to divinity. The way this
works is that each generation, through their learnings and accumulated wisdom builds up
ever increasing 'Cultural DNA'  that can then form the basis of a higher level of existence.
Irrespective of what age we are chronologically, it is possible for us to determine where we
are mentally on the Mahasrama Cycle. If one is in Brahmacharya, it does not mean that they
do not have some of the attributes of Grihastha, Vanaprastha etc. - so a tool has been
devised for us to determine what the ordering is of our own priorities and needs that define
where we are on Mahashrama. Please click on the '
Find your MA Segment'  tab in the
Navigation Bar.

In exceptional cases, more than one segment may run in parallel. Also, those who have
moved past several segment transitions can take on the value system (dharma) of any of the
segments they have passed through - as the need arises. The age grouping is intended as a
general guideline. Early transitions are still practiced in certain societies, and a direct
transition from Brahmacharya to Sanyas is still prevalent amongst many Buddhists in the
Himalayan foothills - especially for their first-born sons.
In Our Own Image
Humanity's Quest for Divinity via Technology
by Debashis Chowdhury
Mahashrama Overview
Book Published Nov '06
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