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Confused about whether I must keep my hair

asked 2013-11-06 08:42:00 -0600

M.Singh gravatar image

updated 2018-08-27 13:13:01 -0600

Guruka Singh gravatar image

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

I am a teenage sikh. I have been told by almost all my family members that it is not a must to keep my hair long. Up till this point in life my family members have made me cut my hair. When I was younger my family members never told me that sikhs keep their hair uncut. I only found out a year ago that sikhs have to keep their hair.

Ever since I have tried to keep my hair. But whenever my family members think that my hair or beard has grown too long they take me to a nearby barber shop and make me cut my hair and shave my beard.

So I started to ask them why they continuously kept making me cut my hair. They told me several reasons such as :

You need to look need neat and presentable It is very hard to maintain long hair It is very hard to tie a turban I will not get into a good school if I keep my hair and beard I need to shave my beard for things such as renewal of my passport.

Then a few days ago I sat down to discuss this matter with my grand uncle. Since he was the oldest in our family I thought he would be able to help me. I asked him why all the members in my family had been cutting their hair and why they were making me cut my hair. This is because I found out that Guru Gobind Singh Ji ordered us to keep our hair uncut and our beards unshaven.

What he said in response made me even more confused. He told me that Guru Nanak Dev Ji did not say that we could not cut our hair. I am not saying that my family members are bad. They have given me a very comfortable life and have cared for me a lot. But this may be one of the few times when I disagree with their decision.

Sorry for being so long. I am just a young sikh who wants to keep his hair and beard. I am inexperienced and I need some help. I have cried many times at night wondering what should I do. I did not want to cut my hair. I do not know whether Guruji will forgive me if I keep my hair and beard henceforth. Please help me out here.

Any opinions and advice will be very much appreciated.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Thank You

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answered 2015-08-08 06:07:52 -0600

this post is marked as community wiki

This post is a wiki. Anyone with karma >100 is welcome to improve it.

First let me disclose that I am a sikh born in a punjabi sikh family. However, none among me & my immediate family have taken Amrit. And I am not a Amritdhari sikh. So, going by the accepted premise, my status as a sikh is debatable. So, kindly, accept that these are my personal views and it is OK for you to disagree with me. Further, whatever I say is merely a friendly advice and nothing more.

Secondly, I will answer directly to the question asked by Mr. Singh. (however, its 2 years since he asked the question] I firmly believe in the premise of personal freedom as long as it does not interfere with that of the others. Do what your heart says. If your heart is with the Guru and you put undoubted faith in his word, than do keep your hair. You have all the right in the world to keep your hair uncut & unshorn. Your parents should be sensible to understand that. In case they don't agree then wait untill you are 18 and get your adult rights. You can check with local authorities regarding law of the land regarding personal freedom as well.

Thirdly, I am presenting my personal view on the matter of keeping unshorn hair in sikhism. I shall divide my answer, henceforth in two parts or questions.

Q1: Is it mandatory for sikhs to keep hair? A1: Yes. There is clear directive given in Sikh Rehat Maryada (Sikh Code of Conduct] that we have to keep unshorn hair. The code was made by sikh scholar after study of SGGS and other historical references. The current code came into being in about 1950 as per the wikipedia page. So, yes, technically, a sikh has to keep unshorn hair.

Q2: Should the Sikh Code of Conduct remain the same today? A2: I have pondered on this in the past and reached somewhere close to a conclusion that religions need to adapt to the current times. There is of course a risk of losing your identity in the process of this adaptation but it is something that can be discussed. Let us look at the features of sikhism that remain relevant today:

  1. Simran = Meditation. Very relevant, probably more relevant today than in the past due to more stress in our lives.

  2. Sewa = Service. Certainly a practice that gives purest form of satisfaction. Very Relevant.

  3. Gurudwaras & Langar. Again, very relevant besides being a highly useful establishment in bringing people together and fostering brotherhood.

  4. No Drugs/adultery. Very well. Basics for a healthy living

  5. Five thiefs. Very relevant, we see in day today life.

  6. On God. No issues here.

  7. Kes. Lets see.

I am a kesdhari since birth, never plucked a single hair. Primarily because I love my parents & love going to the tranquil place called Gurudwaras, and both of them want me to keep my hair. And I don't want to hurt the people I love. And now, Turban & Beard are integral part of my ... (more)

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answered 2015-09-08 00:42:12 -0600

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

I go to a lot of forums of discussions/veechar on Gurbani/Sikhism and honestly this is one topic which exists almost everywhere without failure. But this is the first i am going to write about it on any forum, cause after reading Prabhjot Sahi's comment (which is brilliant) i felt like completing it or rather complementing it.

Here are my two cents - (it is my finding, and it might be incomplete as I am a Seeker myself)

Guruji wanted to give an identity to a Sikh (as evident in an episode occurred in a Sakhi after Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji's martyrdom) so he decided to give an identity which was not an ordinary identity (or just another identity) but had a deeper meaning to it.

For centuries Bhagats, Saints, Fakirs in Indian Sub Continent has been known to keep unshorn hair. Why they kept? Because they never thought of removing something given by divine/god, for them shaving or trimming was trivial, Jaap/Meditation was Mahaan and most important for them. Infact, Guruji himself and even his contemporary disciples are known to keep unshorn hair, so he directed his Shishya (A Sikh) to keep hair unshorn as he saw a Saint, a Bhagat, a Fakir in each of his Sikh. He made us Singh (Lion) and then Khalsa (pure).

So Friends, we are directed to become a:

  1. Sikh - Student (ever obedient to Guru and down to earth)
  2. Singh - Lion (A Symbol of Strength)
  3. Khalsa - Pure & Sovereign (Embodiment of nature & free to the timeless)

Sikh is blessed to have such an identity through which he is always reminded himself as a Bhagat and shall always seek to become a true Sikh (Shishya/Student) of Guru Granth Sahib.

So Friends in simple terms - Unshorn hair means you have not done anything to hair, a natural action to something given by divine. You are natural - Khalsa. I think this is what a Sikh is suppose to do (As per Gurbani) surrender to the Almighty, as altering something means you are not happy the way you look or with what you have been given, which means there is still some worldly desires left in you, and Gurbani clearly states that unless a human rises above such desires (which can be done through Naam Meditation) Path of Enlightenment is not even found, leave alone treading it.

I hope i have been able to give my thoughts on importance of unshorn hair, i may realize deeper meanings as i tread along the path of Gurbani.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh! Puninder Singh - New Delhi

About Myself: I am a born Sikh and an avid reader. After listening to Maskeen Ji for sometime (again and again) I have started doing Nitnem (though I have always told by my parents to do so), I practice Naam meditation (this is THE THING - "Waheguru Meditation" first thing early morning) and also try to read/understand Guru ... (more)

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answered 2016-11-30 12:33:29 -0600

I am in the same situation as you I really want to keep my kes but my parents don't let me. I have tried everything to make them let me . I know now that when I am 18 in 1-1/2 years I will grow my hair. Trust me I have cried over this many time but waheguru ji understands and has supported me in these tough times . You look smarter and more presentable with a pagh becuase it is our crown . Just like a king without his crown is really no one. I tie really nice paghs but u will get one for real when I am 18.

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, waheguru ji ki fateh

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answered 2017-04-13 11:44:50 -0600

A Sikh of Guru Granth Sahib comes in a variety of looks and socio-class background. Farmers, butchers, warriors, doctors, musicians, leather workers,...all are found on an equal platform. There is no emphasis on strict, meaning less, outer rituals or idol worship. An idol worshipper who saw experienced the divine due to his pure mind in a rock is also mentioned. 5ks are a uniform of the Khalsa. Khalsa is the custodian of the spiritual treasure of the SGGS and is given the political rulership. The 10th Nanak did consider every willing volunteer to be a worthy of the Khalsa lifestyle gifts. All the Gurus and Bhagats in SGGS are from non violent lifestyles. The only sword warrior Guru Sahib whose bani is found in SGGS is Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. Guru Gobind Singh ji kept his bani outside of SGGS and offered the bir rash to his Sikhs who volunteered to be a Khalsa. Keeping your hair uncut has many benefits

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answered 2019-03-16 13:28:04 -0600

Pavit gravatar image

I am not exactly privy as to why Guru Gobind Singhji commanded sikhs to adhere to the 5 ks. It may be so that the geo-political situations of the time necessitated sporting a beard and turban to distinctly identify sikhs as a community or for sikhs to wear drawers or carry combs for the sake of hygeine in case of the nihangs involved in guerilla warfare. The only symbolic element among the 5 is the karha, which duely reminds one of the perpetuality of life. Besides this the 5 ks have only further institutionilzed our religion. Sikhism was not supposed to be a religion. It was a philosphy, a way of life, a collection of poems and hyms in the praise of God and principles on leading a good, honourable and magnanimous life. Never did Guru Nannak Ji envisage the establishment of a religion. One that is so replete with ceremonies, symbols, and stringent customs. What the great and noble Guru Gobind Singhji proclaimed vis a vis the 5 ks has unmistakably lost significance and the pragmatic need in this age. I am sure our guru did not vouch for long hair with the intent of demarcating our folks. He was well above such material desires. Howbeit the turban has existed for good and can be embraced for the sake of attaining a sense of belongingness among our people. Nevertheless, the idea of having a haircut being forbidden is unsound. I infer that having wearing hair signifies detachment from the material; quite the contrary to that, it sounds like sporting a turban is a mark of vanity in itself and prohibition on removal of hair is draconian.

My message to modern sikhs is to be cosmopolitans. Don't see sikhism exclusively as your religion, whereas, learn from all the religions around you(even from the ones which aren't doing so well publicly). The purpose of religion is spiritualism : an extremely unitary and individual experience. Don't be dragged into the rules and customs of social religion. Such customs are only material. Rather focus on the symbolism, deep meanings and principles enunciated in sikhism inter alia.

Be good, do harm to none, speak ill of none, think badly of none, don't trespass into other's privacy, dont envy others, love everyone around you, love the creator and his creations(which are both the same), help the needy, be humble, lead a life of honesty and sincerity, be true to yourself, never seek indulgence, thank nature, God, the universe at all times and never forget to apologise if you are in the wrong. God bless. Sat naam-Waheguru.

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Asked: 2013-11-06 08:42:00 -0600

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Last updated: Mar 16 '19