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In Hindu tradition, the four ashramas, or ideal stages of (male high-caste) life, are studenthood (bhramacharya), householdership (grihastya), retirement in the forest (vanaprastha), and complete renunciation (sannyasa). Some of Gandhi's thoughts on the Varnas and Ashramas can be found in My Varnashrama Dharma, a collection of his thoughts compiled with his approval by Anand T. Hingorani.

Professor Dennis Dalton explains how Gandhi's ashrams sought to create an equal social order and what this suggested about his views on caste.