why do shaolin monks shave their heads


Here s a question that comes up from time to time — why do and shave their heads? Having looked and looked, I m still not sure about the
why, other than it s a rule. We can speculate that perhaps shaving the head reduces vanity and is a test of a monastic s commitment. It s also practical, especially in hot weather. Historians tell us that wandering mendicants seeking were a common sight in first millennium BCE India. The historical record also tells us that these mendicants had issues with hair. For example, some of these spiritual seekers deliberately left their hair and beards unkempt and unwashed, having taken vows to avoid proper grooming until they had realized enlightenment. There also are accounts of mendicants pulling out their hair by the roots. The rules made by the Buddha for his ordained followers are recorded in a text called the. In the Pali Vinaya-pitaka, in a section called thePKhandhaka, the rules say that hair should be shaved at least every two months, or when the hair has grown to the length of two finger-widths. It may be that the Buddha just wanted to discourage the weird hair practices of the time. The Khandhaka also provided that monastics must use a razor to remove hair and not cut hair with scissorsPunless he or she has a sore on her head.


A monastic may not pluck out or dye gray hair. Hair may not be brushed or combed — a good reason to keep it short — or managed with any kind of oil. If somehow some hair is sticking out oddly, it is all right to smooth it with one s hand, however. These rules mostly seem to discourage vanity. (Note that the Khandhaka allows monks to have short beards, which begs the question, why does one never see Buddhist monks with beards? I ll have to look into that. ) Most Buddhist nuns and monks today follow the Vinaya rules about hair. P Practices do vary somewhat from one school to another, but I believe the monastic ordination ceremonies of all schools of Buddhism include head shaving. It s common for the head to be mostly shaved prior to the ceremony, leaving just a little on top for the ceremony officiant to remove. The preferred form of shaving is still a razor. Some orders have decided that electric razors are more like scissors than a razor and therefore are forbidden by the Vinaya. The early scriptures tell us that the Buddha lived in the same way as. He wore the same robes and begged for food like everyone else. So why isn t the depicted bald, as a monk? (The fat, bald, is a different Buddha. ) The earliest scriptures don t tell us specifically how the Buddha wore his hair, although stories of tell us he cut his long hair short when he began his quest for enlightenment.

There is, however, one clue that the Buddha didn t shave his head after his enlightenment. P The originally was working as a barber when the Buddha came to him for a haircut. The first depictions of the Buddha in human form were made by the artists of, a Buddhist kingdom that was located in what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan, 2000 years or so ago. The artists of Gandhara were influenced by Greek and Roman art as well as Persian and Indian art, and many of the earliest Buddhas, sculpted in the early first millennium CE, were sculpted in an unmistakably Greek/Roman style. These artists gave the Buddha. Why? Perhaps it was a popular men s hair style at the time. Over the centuries the curly hair became a stylized pattern that sometimes looks more like a helmet than hair, and the topknot became a bump. But depicting the historical Buddha with a shaved head remains rare. For examples of the Buddha in art and his hair styles over time, see for signing up. First of all, lay Buddhists are not required to shave their heads, only the monks and nuns. In most Buddhist traditions it is a custom/rule that when you become a monk or nun (a. k. a.

Bhikkhu) you have to shave your head. There are also monastic rules that say that a Bhikkhu is not allowed to grow hair beyond a certain length or time. The hair of the head should not be worn long. It should be shaved at least every two months or when the hair has grown to a length of two fingerbreadths Б whichever occurs first, says the Commentary. The beard should not be grown long, although Б unlike the hair of the head Б there is no explicit maximum length, unless the two month/two fingerbreadth rule is meant to apply here as well. ( One of the first things Gautama Siddhartha (who became the Buddha) supposedly did when he left his palace and started looking for a way to defeat old age, sickness and death, was to shave off his hair and beard. Bhikkus show their commitment by doing the same. Shaving our head symbolizes cutting off confusion, hostility, and attachment ( Shaving your hair removes the risk of vanity and allows you to focus on more important things than combing and fixing your hair every day. By looking less attractive, celibacy (another monastic rule) becomes easier (at least that\’s what claims, I\’m not sure about the validity of this myself).

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