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|Summary of Question:||Hair And Sikhism - Is There A Scientific Explanation!|
|Date Posted:||Sunday, 4/02/2000 11:48 PM MDT|
First of all, the rational that we should keep our hair because "Guruji said so" is unacceptable. That is blind faith....and nothing is more detrimental to the progress of a religion than unconditional acceptance without questioning and finding the right reasons.
I do not seem to understand the explanation either that we should not cut hair because it is part of our bodies. Hair, like nails, is composed of dead cells. It is a scientific fact that the body gets rid of dead cells (skin, nails and even hair). What we are doing by cutting out hair is just getting rid of dead cells that the body will get rid of sooner or later. If cutting hair is wrong because by doing so, we are inturrupting in the natural process, so is taking a shower or cutting ur nails. When we shower, we scrap of a lot of loose and dead skin cells that otherwise might have just remained attached to the skin for some time longer. How does time matter anyway...dead cells are dead...whether u get rid of them now or later?
The only sort of acceptable explanation for uncut hair (not scientific though) may be that it makes us stand apart from other people and encourages the sense of community among fellow sikhs. But this explanation is a cultural one, and has nothing to do with religion. It is akin to gang members who all shave their heads in order to identify with one another.
And also, why do we have to wears turbans that are excessively long, heavy, time consuming to tie, not to mention uncomfortable to the first-time wearer. If the idea is to cover the head as a sign of respect to the almighty, then a simple piece of cloth or even a hat should suffice.
And lastly, a general question. Is sikhism inherently that different than all other religions of the world? If people from all other religions have the capability of attaining "bliss" with their hair cut and faces shaved, why cant Sikhs? I thought sikhism stood for love and simran and acceptance...i don't really understand why uncut hair is a precondition to doing that.
I know this has been a long e-mail with several questions and some of my own doubts and explanations, and I would appreciate if this be posted without any editing. I am a practising Sikh myself, and my intent is not to ridicule or belittle the religion, but to find convincing answers for myself so that i can be more comfortable in practising it. After all...religion is a very personal experience for each one of us. Sikhism is not in favor of "hath-jog" - subjecting oneself to emotional and physical distress to attain the almighty...and trying to live as a practising sikh in a western society is nothing short of that..especially for teenagers who have to deal with this stress on a everyday basis growing up in a culture very different from their own..with an altogether different value-system.
I hope i can initiate some useful dialog through this forum... and hoepfully get some answers.
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In addition to the info in LSK's answer below, do take a look at this well written article, "Human Hair - A Biological Necessity" by Dr. Birendra Kaur:
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One point at a time, and I'll try to be brief. (One note: this is not the discussion forum. That is elswhere on this site.)
1. "because "Guruji said so". Why is that not acceptable? You are following someone's example when you cut your hair in the "latest style for the next 5 minutes". Why can't you follow people who have shown through example that they know a path to infinity? If you are going to discover everything in life by trial and error you will be here for millions of incarnations. That's what spiritual teachers are for.
2. "Hair, like nails, is composed of dead cells." This statement is absolutely false, so it can't be used as a basis for behaviour. Hair is alive. Hair and nails are very different. You only have twenty nails, you have millions of hairs all over your body. Nails will break off in normal daily living, hair will not. People with certain serious illnesses see their hair get lackluster and dull. Then when they are healthy, the same hair looks lusterous, shiny, and healthy. Dead cells don't change.
3. As for turbans, they do a lot more than cover the hair. The pressure of the multiple wraps keeps the 26 bones of the skull in place. There are pressure points on the forehead that keep you calm and relaxed. The pressure changes the pattern of blood flow to the brain. (These are all reasons that women should also wear turbans.) There's more, but suffice it to say, the Guru's didn't give us these k's just for the fun of it.
4. Your one reason to keep hair, that it makes us different, is the one thing I would never agree to. What if it sudddenly became the style for everyone to keep all their hair? We should cut ours then to be different? No. We do what we do because it promotes our higher consciousness and self control to live as soldier saints. If others want to join us, hallelluyah! If not, we will serve them with kindness and grace, and see God in them.
I'm glad to know you are keeping your form in the face of all doubt and pressure of society. One day you will breathe your last. All the style and doubt will be meaningless at that point. All your soul will want to know is "Did you live as you belonged to God, or did you live as you belonged to Earth?".