One who has attained to the knowledge of the innate essential nature, risen to the divine consciousness in which mental consciousness ceases, spread into Siva consciousness, does not retire to a forest or a cave, but accepts his role in the cosmic drama and carries on the duties of life.
Just as an actor in a drama plays the part of a certain character but is neither neither affected nor deluded by the assumption of a particular role, so the self on the world stage is not affected by the events in which he participates in life. Inwardly he is always detached.
He who is contented with what he gets, who restrains his senses, being a householder, who is not absorbed in the house-hold duties, certainly attains emancipation by the practice of Yoga (his wealth and condition of life are no obstacles in this).
Living in the house amidst wife and children, but being free from attachments to them, practicing Yoga in secrecy, a householder even finds marks of success (slowly covering his efforts) and thus following these teachings of mine, he ever lives in blissful happiness.
If the practitioner of Yoga wishes to cross the ocean of the world, he should perform all the duties of his ashrama (the condition of life) renouncing all the fruits of his works.
He should not renounce the duties of his profession, caste or rank; but let him perform these merely, as an instrument of the Lord, without any thought of the event. By thus doing so there is no sin.
Remaining in the midst of the family, always doing the duties of the householder, he who is free from merits and demerits and has restrained his senses, attains salvation.
Sexual approach only to one's wife duly wed is prescribed for a householder and celibacy for all the other three namely, Brahmacharins, Vanaprasthas and Sanyasins.
The duty prescribed for women is service to their own husbands. Nothing else is an eternal Dharma for them.
O good woman, if the husband directs her, she can worship me.
If a woman engages herself in holy rites, thereby prejudicing her service to her husband, she goes to hell undoubtedly.
Good conduct is the greatest learning. Good conduct is the greatest goal. Men of good conduct shall be fearless everywhere.
Similarly men devoid of good conduct shall meet with fear everywhere.
Truthfulness is the esoteric principle underlying virtue.
The Four Ashrams of Life
Planning life in four stages: In the ancient Indian tradition, one planned the years of life in four ashrams or stages.
Age: Ashram or Stage:
(0-25) Brahmacharya/Student: The celibate student time of youth is for learning the foundation of lifestyle. The focus is on healthy, positive training and discipline, learning about spiritual, community, and family life.
(25-50) Grahasta/Householder: The householder phase of life is when one lives with spouse and children, fulfilling worldly interests and duties. It is a time of giving, living, learning, and loving in family and community. Religious or spiritual practices are done in the context of worldly life and service to others.
(50-75) Vanaprastha/Hermitage: This is a time for shifting focus more towards more inner spiritual practices of meditation, contemplation, and prayer. Relationships with grown children and community are more in the role of a matured mentor. Lifestyle is more simplified, and the couple may retreat to a quieter place for deeper practices.
(75-100+) Sanyasa/Renunciate: The elder person now retreats from active involvement in all worldly goals, seeking only spiritual goals in this final phase. No longer having political, professional, or social engagements, there is a further shift towards being an elder teacher of spiritual knowledge.
Taken from: http://www.swamij.com/four-ashrams.htm