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Confused about whether I must keep my hair

asked 2013-11-06 08:42:00 -0500

M.Singh gravatar image

updated 2018-08-27 13:13:01 -0500

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 2013-11-08 22:45:44 -0500

Gurujis Daughter gravatar image

updated 2017-04-12 10:10:08 -0500

Guruka Singh gravatar image

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

One of the best things in our generation is that we are allowed to ask why. We are often unsure about so many things and in today's time there are many people who are very happy answering our questions!

Our Gurus did prohibit cutting hair. And there is a very goood reason behind it. Vaisakhi, which we celebrate every year was started by Guru Gobind Singh Sahib ji. He told his sikhs not to do 5 things - You can read description of it here. It has Punjabi in it too as the primary source and proof. " . Hajamat – Cutting, plucking, dying Kesh

Cutting hair is strictly forbidden in Gurmat. From your head down to your toes, no hair is to be plucked, cut, burnt or chemically/surgically removed. Kesh are not to be dyed by any method whatsoever and the plucking of hair is not permitted.42

ਸਾਬਤ ਸੂਰਤ ਰੱਬ ਬਣਾਈ ॥ ਬੇਈਮਾਨ ਨੇ ਭੰਨ ਗਵਾਈ ॥

"God made the human form perfect, but the treacherous has altered it And made it lose its natural beauty."

ਸਾਬਤ ਸੂਰਤ ਰੱਬ ਦੀ ਭੰਨੇਬੇਈਮਾਨ ॥ ਦਰਗਹਿ ਢੋਈ ਨਾ ਮਿਲੈ ਕਾਫਰਕੁੱਤਾ ਸ਼ੈਤਾਨ ॥

"The treacherous has altered the perfect human body, Making it lose its natural beauty. He/She will not get acceptance in the court of God And is an infidel, a dog and is devil like."

42 When people start to age they start dying their hair black/brown or plucking their white hairs, this is forbidden and vanity is to be relinquished by enshrining the Guru’s teachings

Keeping your Kesh is essential. Upon the death of a relative, the deceased’s hair is not to be shaved off. The cutting of hair is prohibited in other religions as well, but in Gurmat cutting hair is a cardinal sin and results in a person being an outcast. You are to guard against committing this cardinal sin. Your Kesh are not to be washed with ashes or clay, they are to be washed with shampoo, yoghurt or lasee. Lying down with your Kesh uncovered or partaking in any action with your Kesh uncovered is strictly forbidden. You are not to enter a dusty, dirty place with your Kesh uncovered. Cutting the Kesh or piercing the ears/noses of your children is strictly forbidden. The hair of children is not to be tied in dreadlocks. From a young age, the Kesh of your children are to be combed with a Kangha.

ਸਾਬਤ ਸੂਰਤ ਸਿਧਾ ਦਾੜ੍ਹਾ ॥ ਕਾਠ ਦਾ ਕੰਘਾ ਕੇਸੀਂ ਚਾੜ੍ਹਾ ॥

"The complete form of man is with a beard, which is left untied. The Kesh are combed with a wooden Kangha."

Amritdharee Singhs are to keep their beards open and untied."

This is Rehet Nama which I sent. It means Code of ... (more)

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answered 2013-11-24 15:59:20 -0500

betazoid gravatar image

I am disappointed by the response of Guruji's Daughter as Sikhi is not, nor was it ever intended to be, a legalistic faith. Judaism and Islam are both legalistic faiths, and their heavy focus on rules and laws is evident in their teachings.

I think it would be a mistake to see the keeping of hair as normative for all Sikhs, everywhere, forevermore. This is something that was very appropriate for that time when the Guru's lived, in that place in the world (i.e. The Punjab). It is clearly something derived historically from Indian (and specifically Punjabi) culture.

I have been reading the Siri Guru Granth Sahib ji every day for several months now, and studying a daily Hukam, and in none of my readings have I ever come across any mention that removing, dying, or otherwise processing one's hair is forbidden.

In one passage, it does say "They pluck the hair out of their heads, and drink in filthy water; they beg endlessly and eat the garbage which others have thrown away."

But then after that it says, "They remain polluted forever, day and night; they do not apply the ceremonial tilak mark to their foreheads."

So should I assume from this that we all must apply a ceremonial tilak mark to our foreheads? Is that a command from the Gurus? It's right there in the SGGS, after all.

Each person must do their best to judge whether keeping hair is right and reasonable for them or not.

Sikhi is about what's in your heart... how little attachment you have to the things of Maya as opposed to meditating on the Naam. I think it's just as big a mistake to become attached to the idea of keeping hair as it is to become attached to the idea of shaving it off, styling it, or what have you.

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answered 2015-01-11 23:39:55 -0500

Dear Betazoid,

This is a great response - many THANKS :)

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

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answered 2015-01-14 16:48:46 -0500

Singh5 gravatar image

Is it? Is it truly a GREAT response?

You are clearly missing something here that you have an issue with. A TRUE devoted Sikh who has given there head to the True Guru who has received Amrit lives to the code of conduct. Forgive me but Was it not Shiri Guru Gobind Singh Ji who said it is not the Sikh which is dear to me but the Rehat of the SIKH.

It is true that Sikhi should be in your heart and MIND and having little to no attachment to Maya. Kesh/Hair is a part of the human body Kesh is attached to the human form for a reason. Ok there are certain medical conditions regarding kesh and the female form particularly, but lets not go there because that is a different issue.

The keeping of your hair uncut and in natural state is a true test of your strength and character and your overall acceptance to the way you have been made. There is no confusion here because a Sikh is one who has HAIR. Would a clean shaven sikh look right?

Look, the simple answer is this.. when one is ready to receive Amrit and become Amritdharee and live as a Gursikh, become Khalsa..become Gurmukh then no question arises about having confusion to keep hair uncut.

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answered 2015-01-15 17:17:24 -0500

Guruka Singh gravatar image

Hair has been recognized as sacred for over 5,000 years. It has a purpose.

See: The Value of Hair

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answered 2015-03-01 03:45:21 -0500

sarab anand gravatar image

waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fate

hi i am sarab anand. considering the sikh history you will see that guru gobind singh ji our tenth guru was fighting for war at the time he made khalsa panth, so to take all the people on his side and for creating a difference between a sikh and muslim he created khalsa. As you also know that guru gobind singh ji created jhatka which said that we cannot eat chicken cut by a MUSLIM, it can be a hindu or christian but not a muslim, yes guru gobind singh ji did not like the way they cut a chicken but at the end you are killing the being. I being raised in a sikh family want to cut hair but i cannot, because i am forced to and i dont doubt it for me my family comes first and for them if i have to keep hair i will.

see i am not saying that you should or should not cut hair, both of them are not a sin. just do what you want to do, and stand for yourself, if you want to keep hair you should be confident about it, so fight for your rights.

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answered 2015-03-08 10:21:52 -0500

Can I commit incest. Since there is nowhere written in Guru Granth Sahib Ji, then I can commit incest.

I want to join the police force, but can I join without wearing the uniform. I think as a police officer, what is inside me is more important than the uniform ... discipline, dedication to law, expert in using my gun etc.

To ponder.

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answered 2015-03-19 16:39:36 -0500

Ray gravatar image

Can anyone please tell me the literal meanings/definition of the following words: - Sikh - Sikhism - Rehat - Maryada

I am sorry if my words sound inappropriate.

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answered 2015-08-08 06:07:52 -0500

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 -0500

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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Asked: 2013-11-06 08:42:00 -0500

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