Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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DooDoot
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Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Post by DooDoot » Wed May 16, 2018 12:32 pm

Dear forum

In most religious traditions, the Holy Men grow beards & long hair, which I assume to surrender to nature or God.

My question is why did the Buddha's Sangha shave their heads & beards rather than just let their hair grow freestyle?

Thank you :sage:

SarathW
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Re: Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Post by SarathW » Wed May 16, 2018 1:19 pm

What a comparison!
Some on is missing here.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Dhammanando
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Re: Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Post by Dhammanando » Wed May 16, 2018 1:25 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 12:32 pm
My question is why did the Buddha's Sangha shave their heads & beards rather than just let their hair grow freestyle?
No reason is given in the Vinaya Piṭaka beyond the stock formula about householders complaining:
Now at that time the group of six monks wore their hair long. People … spread it about … he addressed the monks, saying: “Monks, long hair should not be worn. Whoever should wear it (long), there is an offence of wrong-doing. I allow it to be of a two months’ growth or two finger-breadths (in length).”
However, the rule happens to appear in the midst of a lot of other rules that are aimed at curtailing vanity, and so it's widely assumed that this is likely to be the purpose here too.

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Re: Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Post by TamHanhHi » Wed May 16, 2018 1:43 pm

One monk once told me it's so they don't have to worry about insects infesting the hair (lice, etc.) and just easier and clean maintenance overall.
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Re: Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Post by DNS » Wed May 16, 2018 3:47 pm

It has to combed, brushed, groomed, styled (okay maybe those are all the same thing), colored (if you're old); all related to vanity and identity. When you're bald, you just shave it, no styling or coloring needed. It takes time to shave my head every day, but I still prefer it to the time it takes styling and coloring the hair from my younger days.

I start with an electric shaver and go over my beard and head areas and then use a razor blade with shaving cream.


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Re: Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Post by dharmacorps » Wed May 16, 2018 4:14 pm

I suppose on this issue you could go two directions with curtailing vanity in the holy life-- let your hair grow without concern for vanity or styling it, or shave it off. I have shaved my head for a few years and enjoy its simplicity.

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Re: Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Wed May 16, 2018 4:18 pm

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Re: Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Post by Dhammanando » Wed May 16, 2018 9:49 pm

The hair and beard are just the first two items. The Niddesa's full list of gihibyañjanāni is:
Gihibyañjanāni vuccanti kesā ca massū ca mālā ca gandhañca vilepanañca ābharaṇañca pilandhanañca vatthañca pārupanañca veṭhanañca ucchādanaṃ parimaddanaṃ nhāpanaṃ sambāhanaṃ ādāsaṃ añjanaṃ mālāgandhavilepanaṃ mukhacuṇṇaṃ mukhalepanaṃ hatthabandhaṃ sikhābandhaṃ daṇḍaṃ nāḷikaṃ khaggaṃ chattaṃ citrupāhanaṃ uṇhīsaṃ maṇiṃ vāḷabījaniṃ odātāni vatthāni dīghadasāni iti vā.

"There are called the "marks of a householder: hair and beard, garlands and fragrances, ointments, necklaces, earrings, clothing, headwraps, rubbing, massages, bathing, body-building, mirrors, collyrium, garlands, fragrances, and ointments, facial powder, lipstick, gloves, ribbons, staff, rod, sword, parasol, decorative sandals, turban, jewelry, fans, white clothes, and long nails."
But this list pertains to paccekabuddhas rather than bhikkhus. Although most of the items are also prohibited in the Vinaya, not all are. We are allowed fans, for example.
Now at that time a mosquito-fan accrued to an Order. They told this matter to the Lord. He said: “I allow, monks, a mosquito-fan.” A chowry-fan accrued. They told this matter to the Lord. He said: “Monks, a chowry-fan should not be used. Whoever should use one, there is an offence of wrong-doing. I allow, monks, three kinds of fans: made of bark, made of khus-khus, made of peacocks’ tail feathers.”

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Re: Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Post by SarathW » Wed May 16, 2018 11:55 pm

mirrors
Bhante. Don't use a mirror to shave your hair?
bathing
What is this?
parasol
I know some monks use them.

[quotewhite clothes][/quote]
Why not?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Post by Dhammanando » Thu May 17, 2018 12:23 am

SarathW wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 11:55 pm
Bhante. Don't use a mirror to shave your hair?
That, and when applying ointment to a sore, are the only occasions when a Vinaya-observant bhikkhu will look in a mirror.
SarathW wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 11:55 pm
bathing
What is this?
Bhikkhus can bathe. Paccekabuddhas don't.
SarathW wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 11:55 pm
parasol
I know some monks use them.
Yes, we're allowed to. But paccekabuddhas are more austere than us.
SarathW wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 11:55 pm
white clothes]
Why not?
It's a term that stands for any kind of clothes that are characteristic of householders. Paccekabuddhas are gone-forth persons and so dress accordingly in rags.

paul
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Re: Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Post by paul » Thu May 17, 2018 7:35 am

"the rule happens to appear in the midst of a lot of other rules that are aimed at curtailing vanity"---Ven Dhammanando
I was told at Bodhinyana that a bald head reminds us of a skull.

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Grigoris
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Re: Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Post by Grigoris » Thu May 17, 2018 8:32 am

Jain Devardhigani.jpg
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I guess this is one of the reasons why shaven headed Buddhist monks don't wear white: to differentiate them from Jain monks.
ye dhammā hetuppabhavā tesaṁ hetuṁ tathāgato āha,
tesaṃca yo nirodho - evaṁvādī mahāsamaṇo.

Of those phenomena which arise from causes:
Those causes have been taught by the Tathāgata,
And their cessation too - thus proclaims the Great Ascetic.

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Grigoris
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Re: Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Post by Grigoris » Thu May 17, 2018 8:42 am

Not all Buddhist monks shave their heads and beards.
drubwang rinpoche.jpg
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konchok norbu rinpoche.jpg
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ye dhammā hetuppabhavā tesaṁ hetuṁ tathāgato āha,
tesaṃca yo nirodho - evaṁvādī mahāsamaṇo.

Of those phenomena which arise from causes:
Those causes have been taught by the Tathāgata,
And their cessation too - thus proclaims the Great Ascetic.

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Aloka
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Re: Why did the Buddha's monks shave their heads & beards?

Post by Aloka » Thu May 17, 2018 11:36 am

Here's another ....


Image


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