5: Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharma :
The Sixth and Seventh Skandhas of the Srimad Bhagavata are devoted entirely to the great battle that was waged between Indra and Vritra, and in this context we also have the story of Chitraketu. It is in the Seventh Skandha that we have a more detailed analysis of Ashrama dharma, which Narada recounts to Yudhishthira in the context of his question concerning the birth of Prahlada, ending with Narasimha avatara due the activities of Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu, two children born to Kashyapa and Diti under queer circumstances. Narada’s instruction to Yudhishthira is especially on the dharmas to be followed in the Ashrama system of life.
From the birth of a child into this world onwards, there is a graduated building up of personality through conservation of energy at different levels of being. Taking for granted that a person will live for one hundred years, the first twenty-five years are supposed to be devoted totally to an ascetic conservation of the energy of the system, which prepares the person for future life. It is very important to know that the way in which we are brought up in early childhood, and the circumstances under which we lived in the family when we were very young, will affect us in old age.
The treasure that we gathered up by the conservation of energy at an early age may keep us in good stead throughout our life; but if, as it happens in modern times, right from the beginning of a person’s life there is a tendency to dissipate energy through various channels of sensory agitation such as television, movies, nightclubs, drinking, smoking, and other things, there is a sacrifice of oneself for these so-called enjoyments. It is emphasised in the Manusmriti that life is not meant for enjoyment, it is meant for working vigorously for the attainment of freedom. The freedom that we expect in our life is, again, an achievement through a graduated process.