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Information about hair

Published on March 10, 2008

Author: Renato


Sikh Missionary Society UK 25th Annual Gurmat Camp 28th July – 4th August 2002 Guru Gobind Khalsa College Chigwell, Essex.:  Sikh Missionary Society UK 25th Annual Gurmat Camp 28th July – 4th August 2002 Guru Gobind Khalsa College Chigwell, Essex. Human Hair and its Significance in Sikhism Presented by: Gurnam Singh, Warwick Structure of Presentation:  Structure of Presentation Biological Perspectives - What is hair and what practical purpose does it serve? Sociological/Psychological Perspectives - What cultural significance does hair have and how does this impact on self identity? Theological Perspectives - What place does human hair have in different religious traditions Sikh (Gurmat) Perspectives – In what ways does not cutting hair concur with the essence of Sikhi? What is Hair?:  What is Hair? Generic term describing strong thread-like outgrowths of the epidermis of mammals. Only mammals (most evolved) have true hair, and all mammals have hair (including elephants, whales, sheep (wool), bears (fur) and hedgehogs (spines). composed chiefly of the horny, usually pigmented scleroprotein keratin contain neither blood vessels nor nerves. The hair grows from the bottom of the follicle where it is nourished by the blood vessels. A minute muscle, is attached to each hair follicle; under the control of the autonomic nervous system the muscle contracts to make the hair “stand on end”. Most mammals possess tactile hairs, the roots of which have a richly supply of sensory nerves. Humans have the longest hair and the largest head. Changes in hair reflect biological ageing process What is the Function of Hair?:  What is the Function of Hair? Guard Hairs (whiskers, spines) protection (cage or sensory) Insulate - retain body heat and fluid Camouflage e.g. Zebra Signal - e.g white tailed deer -warning others of predators Navigation in darkness Defence and offence - locate prey and predator Absorb harmful radiations from the sun. Keep out coarse dust particles, as in eyelashes, hair in the nasal chambers and ear canals. Eyebrows prevent water or perspiration from falling into eyes, due to their particular direction. Axillary and pubic hair lessen friction between limbs and body, and between limbs during locomotion. Beautify the body (otherwise why people do not shave off their hair from the head completely; bald men are desperate and would pay any price to get back on their heads). Beard and moustaches are for differentiation of sex. Mostly males are decorated in nature, e.g. lion, peacock and other birds, deer, etc. Defend the body in danger, by standing on their ends, thereby making the body look bigger. Sociological/Psychological Perspectives:  Sociological/Psychological Perspectives ‘Hair care’ - consumption i.e. big business Group Identity/Affiliation e.g ‘Skin Heads’, Hippies, ‘David Beckham’, Dreadlocks, Hair sculpting. Symbolising masculinity/femininity. Cultural norms – peer group pressure Symbolises ageing - cosmetic surgery! Theological Perspectives :  Theological Perspectives Jewish/Christian/Greek Tradition Long uncut hair symbol of vitality, strength, morality and wisdom (eg Samson) Cutting/tearing of hair symbolic of mourning and death – hair sacrificed to the dead Symbol of great beauty – For this reason married Jewish women were required to cover their heads Jesus and all his disciples kept their hair in tact. In ancient Greece long hair symbolised godliness, youthfulness and wisdom Later custom of shaving introduced by Alexander the Great. Why? Control over his armies perhaps! Indian Tradition :  Indian Tradition Prior to the Mogul invasions, Brahmins were required to keep matted hair and rishi knots Early Buddhist period – shaving sign of ugliness and contempt Later shaving became a requirement for renunciation Evidence that adulteress were punished by having their head shaven Yogic/Sadhu tradition - Shaving symbolised renunciation i.e escape from social, political and cultural spheres Thus to be an ascetic one needed to defy the principle of procreation and multiplication – To the present day at ceremonies long haired Sadhus and Jains ritually tear out their hair as an act of renunciation. Sikh Tradition:  Sikh Tradition DnwsrI mhlw 1 Gru 3 Dhanaasaree, First Mehl, Third House: <> siqgur pRswid ] One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru: kwlu nwhI jogu nwhI nwhI sq kw Fbu ] No, no, this is not the time, when people know the way to Yoga and Truth. Qwnst jg Birst hoey fUbqw iev jgu ]1] The holy places of worship in the world are polluted, and so the world is drowning. ||1|| kl mih rwm nwmu swru ]In this Dark Age of Kali Yuga, the Lord's Name is the most sublime. AKI q mItih nwk pkVih Tgx kau sMswru ]1] rhwau ] Some people try to deceive the world by closing their eyes and holding their nostrils closed. ||1||Pause|| AWt syqI nwku pkVih sUJqy iqin loA ] They close off their nostrils with their fingers, and claim to see the three worlds. mgr pwCY kCu n sUJY eyhu pdmu AloA ]2] But they cannot even see what is behind them. What a strange lotus pose this is! ||2|| KqRIAw q Drmu CoifAw mlyC BwiKAw ghI ] The K'shatriyas have abandoned their religion, and have adopted a foreign language. isRsit sB iek vrn hoeI Drm kI giq rhI ]3] The whole world has been reduced to the same social status; the state of righteousness and Dharma has been lost. ||3|| Ast swj swij purwx soDih krih byd AiBAwsu ] They analyze eight chapters of (Panini's) grammar and the Puraanas. They study the Vedas, ibnu nwm hir ky mukiq nwhI khY nwnku dwsu ]4]1]6]8] but without the Lord's Name, no one is liberated; so says Nanak, the Lord's slave. ||4||1||6||8|| Sikh (Gurmat Principles):  Sikh (Gurmat Principles) Sikh scriptures tell us that the gurus rejected the following practices (Karm Kaand – Ritual practices) Such rituals designed to wash off sins and achieve salvation (jeeevan mikhti) Self-mortification tormenting the body; Enduring hunger, poverty, pain of hot and cold water / denying sleep; Bathing at places of pilgrimage, river banks, etc.; Celibacy and renouncing the world Dwelling in wilderness, Giving any spiritual significance to dress or nudity Body painting, marking or rubbing the body with ash Circumcision/splitting ears/shaving head/artificially growing long hair or nails. Slide10:  sUhI mhlw 1 Gru Soohee, First Mehl, Seventh House:   <> siqgur pRswid ] One Creator. By The Grace Of The True Guru:  jogu n iKMQw jogu n fMfY jogu n Bsm cVweIAY ] Yoga is not the patched coat, Yoga is not the walking stick. Yoga is not smearing the body with ashes.  jogu n muMdI mUMif mufwieAY jogu n isM|I vweIAY ] Yoga is not the ear-rings, and not the shaven head. Yoga is not the blowing of the horn. AMjn mwih inrMjin rhIAY jog jugiq iev pweIAY ]1] Remaining unblemished in the midst of the filth of the world – this is the way to attain Yoga. ||1||  Slide11:  glI jogu n hoeI ] By mere words, Yoga is not attained.  eyk idRsit kir smsir jwxY jogI khIAY soeI ]1] rhwau ] One who looks upon all with a single eye, and knows them to be one and the same – he alone is known as a Yogi. ||1||Pause||  jogu n bwhir mVI mswxI jogu n qwVI lweIAY ] Yoga is not wandering to the tombs of the dead; Yoga is not sitting in trances.  jogu n dyis idsMqir BivAY jogu n qIriQ nweIAY ] Yoga is not wandering through foreign lands; Yoga is not bathing at sacred shrines of pilgrimage. AMjn mwih inrMjin rhIAY jog jugiq iev pweIAY ]2] Remaining unblemished in the midst of the filth of the world – this is the way to attain Yoga. ||2|| Slide12:  siqguru BytY qw shsw qUtY Dwvqu vrij rhweIAY ] Meeting with the True Guru, doubt is dispelled, and the wandering mind is restrained.   inJru JrY shj Duin lwgY Gr hI prcw pweIAY ] Nectar rains down, celestial music resounds, and deep within, wisdom is obtained.   AMjn mwih inrMjin rhIAY jog jugiq iev pweIAY ]3] Remaining unblemished in the midst of the filth of the world - this is the way to attain Yoga. ||3||   nwnk jIviqAw mir rhIAY AYsw jogu kmweIAY ] O Nanak, remain dead while yet alive - practice such a Yoga.   vwjy bwJhu isM|I vwjY qau inrBau pdu pweIAY ] When the horn is blown without being blown, then you shall attain the state of fearless dignity.   AMjn mwih inrMjin rhIAY jog jugiq qau pweIAY ]4]1]8] Remaining unblemished in the midst of the filth of the world – this is the way to attain Yoga. ||4||1||8|| Slide13:  “Could the Lord be realised: by eating filth, then the swine would; by smearing the body with dust, then the ass and the elephant would; by haunting the cremation grounds, then the vulture would; by living in a domed monastery, then the owl would; by wandering listlessly, then the deer would; by standing still and silently, then the tree would; by abstinence from sex, then the eunuch would; by walking barefoot, then the monkey would." Guru Gobind Singh’s views on ritualism- Akal Ustat, pp. 71-72 Conclusions:  Conclusions Hair has serves a very important biological function Historically most religious traditions were build upon a respect of the human form In the Indian Tradition there have been two ideal paths : Sadhu Maarg - one of becoming a recluse and renouncing all material possessions including the body! Grist Maarg - living ones life in and through the material world of social, community and family life Slide15:  …conclusions Sikhi states that the human form, in body, mind and spirit is the most advanced and perfect machinery for attaining salvation Salvation is to be obtained by letting the body naturally mature and eventually die By doing nothing, to keep and look after ones hair (i.e. to preserve that natural form) is to demonstrate ones inner spiritual strength and to gain acceptance from god. Thus to cut ones hair, one is performing a ritual or cosmetic surgery aimed at gaining acceptance from others, to fit in, and to pander to ones ego.

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