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What to Do with The Un-Natural Growth of Hair on Female Faces?

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by Hardip Singh, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. Hardip Singh

    Hardip Singh India
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    An interesting query had come to me from a close female relative who happens to be an Amritdhari person. One of her female Sikh colleague had hair on her face like we Sikh have our beards. She had been facing a lot of comments from her friends and relatives and were constantly advised to get rid of this unwanted growth of hair on her face. This growth of beard and mustaches in some females is not a new phenomena and is due to certain blood cell defects in the body and is usually from birth itself.

    Question now arises, we males and females in Sikhism are supposed to keep the natural hairs as have come up on our bodies but what about the un-natural growths? Whether such Sikh ladies should get rid of these by some cosmetic methods? Pl advise.
     
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  3. Caspian

    Caspian
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    ive raised this issue in the past, but as far as i know, from an amritdhari—sikh perceptive, you cannot get rid of these hairs. Furthermore, i don't think there anytin "unnatural" about them, all females have a certain amount of facial hair, indeed the whole body is covered in hair that is just barely visible. Further more, it is not due to "blood defects" as far as i know. I think its a hormonal issue, some women have more testosterone then the average woman. (Some men have more estrogen then the average man, but both men and women have both testosterone and estrogen).

    Another somewhat related issue: My sister works at a funeral home where the clients are mostly sikh. Often times family arguments will break out on whether or not to shave the corpse of a recently deceased female. Because of the way skin recedes, a stubble is sometimes noticable on a corpse after some period of time (regardless of gender). I've heard that in sikhism it doesnt really matter what you do with a body after death, whether u bury it, cremate it, or chop it up into pieces (although, sikhs prefer cremation)—would that policy extend to hair? Is it ok to shave the corpse for cosmetic reasons?
     
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  4. Hardip Singh

    Hardip Singh India
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    Thanks for the response. The medical reasons you are saying might be correct but here I am refering to some female having a nice growth of beard and moustaches. You see how much odd it looks on some female face and she had to feel the guilt of such happenings. My quest is to know what's wrong in removing this unwanted beard hair from some female face. What Sikhi has to say on this?
     
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  5. Caspian

    Caspian
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    Personally I don't think there's anything rong with removing these hairs.

    Sikhi, on the other hand, requires that all hair be kept—so when you say "My quest is to know what's wrong in removing this unwanted beard hair from some female face." The wrongdoing there is the act of removing the unwanted hair. It doesnt really get any more complicated then that. For example, the removal of said hair is purely for cosmetic reasons (as these hairs don't harm the individual physically), whats stopping the girl from then removing the hair between her eyebrows (some women may grow unibrows and these unibrows can also be seen as "unnatural"). Okay, so now, lets say she removes the beard and unibrow... whats stopping her from removing the armpit hair? the leg hair? etc.

    Again though, i dont think there anytin wrong with getting rid of these hairs. The more intriguing question is, if you dont think there is anytin wrong with removing these hairs—whats rong with removing any of the hairs? the leg hair, the arm pit hair etc.
     
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  6. Enlighten Me

    Enlighten Me
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    It's not unnatural!

    She should ignore peoples comments about it.

    Nowadays women are expected to be hair free when this is not the case.
    As a woman myself even I get hair on my chin and I know many other females who experience the same.

    It's not unnatural when it's HAIR and it's GROWING.

    I think the woman should be brave [I know it's difficult] and challenge the unbelievable expectations placed on women to be a certain way ie. beautiful/ hairless/ skinny. But this is easier said than done and one day I hope I can do the same and stop caring about what people think.

    We're beautiful regardless of how many hairs we have on our chin and we should be happy that the only problem with our bodies is excess hair growth when it could be a lot worse.
     
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  7. Siri Kamala

    Siri Kamala United States
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    Sat Sri Akal, Sardip Singh ji,

    Truthfully and humbly, none of us here can know what it is like to walk in this woman's shoes or the shoes of any other woman struggling with this problem. It may, for whatever reason, be incredibly embarrassing or even disabling to her to have a noticeable amount of unwanted hair on her face. It may prevent her from being hired for a job she might otherwise enjoy and be highly qualified for. It might prevent her from being in a relationship that might otherwise bring her and the other person great joy. It's easy to say, "Oh, well if the hiring manager / potential mate is so shallow as to not be able to see past some facial hair on a woman she doesn't want to pursue that anyway."

    I do not think that is a fair, kind, or empathetic attitude to take. We all have to coexist with other people in the real world, not the ideal world, and in the real world, people make positive or negative judgments about us based in part on their first impression of our physical appearance.

    Here are my thoughts -- and I want to start first with two questions that I realize you may not be able to answer b/c this is a friend of your relative and not someone you know well personally, but really these would be good questions to answer for *any* female (Sikh or otherwise) who is struggling with unwanted facial hair:

    1) How long has she had this problem? Was it an issue for her even as a child or is it something that she has only started to experience later in life? If it was a problem as a child it may be more of a hereditary issue. If later in life it may be a symptom of PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)

    2) Has she seen a physician, specifically a *specialist* who understands hormonal and metabolic imbalances -- an endocrinologist -- who can thoroughly evaluate her situation and see if there may be some sort of imbalance that is causing this problem?

    If not, she may want to look into making an appointment with such a specialist as there may be a hormonal therapy that could correct the imbalance naturally such that she would not need to remove the hair -- it would go away on its own with the proper treatment. There's an excellent article about this here:
    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/521355

    This insistence that all hair must remain untouched, no matter what, "because it's natural" is a straw man argument. Our bodies do all manner of "natural" things that are unsightly, undesirable, unhealthy, or even deadly. Using that logic, hey, cancer is natural so we should allow it to run its course and not fight it with chemotherapy or surgery. And God forbid we should have to shave someone's head or body in preparation for that surgery, right?

    Do you see how quickly that argument degenerates into absurdity?

    As someone pointed out in another forum on this same topic:
    Furthermore, I believe this is a moot point as kesh only refers to the long hair found on the head on both males and females and on the faces of males. It does not refer to body hair. The proper Punjabi word for that is valha. If the Guru had meant for us not to touch the valha specifically, I'm sure that would have been mentioned but it was not, to my knowledge. Please correct me if I am wrong on that count.

    Personally, I think God cares far more about what's going on *inside* my head than what's going on *outside* it. I don't need to wear a uniform that identifies me as God's Own Forever. I don't need to be able to read or speak in a secret code that no one outside of 17th Century Punjab could really understand. God meets me where I am because I am God's child and I am too weak and small to fully meet God where God is. And so it is for all of us.

    I am reminded here of a lovely song I learned back when I was a Christian by a lady named Nichole Nordemann. It's called "Small Enough" and I think there are parts of it that speak to anyone who loves and believes in The One God:

    All praise and all the honor be
    To the God of ancient mysteries
    Whose every sign and wonder
    Turn the pages of our history,
    But tonight my heart is heavy
    And I cannot keep from whispering this prayer:
    "Are You there?"

    And I know You could leave writing on the wall that's just for me
    Or send wisdom while I'm sleeping, like in Solomon's sweet dreams
    But I don't need the strength of Samson or a chariot in the end
    Just want to know that You still know how many hairs are on my head
    Oh great God, be small enough to hear me now...


    If anyone is interested in hearing the song it's available here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r5u5-Wc-vo


    It still gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it -- it's just that lovely. :happykudi:

    So yes, God is in me, and God is small enough to know how many hairs are on my head. And God is also big enough to know that what I do with my hair says little or nothing of consequence about what is in my heart. I very much respect anyone who wishes to keep kesh and I will actively fight for their right to do so. But by that same token I do not believe it is necessary to keep kesh for God to know me, to feel the devotion that is in my heart,...or for me to connect with The Divine. My :2cents: , humbly submitted. gingerteakaur
     
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  8. Caspian

    Caspian
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    Agreed.
     
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  9. Archived_Member16

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    For your information and consideration:

    Why don't Sikhs cut their hair?


    The unshorn hair (Kesh) is part of nature and God's system. Sikhs maintains long unshorn hair (‘Kesh’) as an act of acceptance of God's Will and living as nature intended, sustaining the individual in higher consciousness. The unshorn hair is regarded with the highest importance in the Sikh religion and is one of the basic requirements for a Sikh. Dishonouring one’s hair is one of the four Bajjar Kurehats (cardinal sins), which the Guru has told a Sikh never to commit. A Sikh doesn’t disfigure their hair from head to toe because of the Guru's order to maintain the sanctity of the Kesh. Nothing else matters. A Sikh does what their Guru tells them to do.

    ਮਾਈ ਸਤਿ ਸਤਿ ਸਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਸਤਿ ਸਤਿ ਸਤਿ ਸਾਧਾ ॥
    ਬਚਨੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਜੋ ਪੂਰੈ ਕਹਿਓ ਮੈ ਛੀਕਿ ਗਾਂਠਰੀ ਬਾਧਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
    <CITE>“O mother, True, True True is the Lord, and True, True, True is the Guru.
    The Word, which the Perfect Guru has spoken, I have tied to my robe. ||1||Pause||”
    (Ang 1204)</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>
    The Kesh act as the identity for a Sikh as well being a spiritual and practical tool that helps the body. Guru Nanak Sahib Ji, the founder of the Sikh Path, followed the ancient practice of the sages, prophets, and holy mystics of keeping the hair unshorn because keeping it in a natural state is regarded as living in harmony with the Will of Vaheguru.

    The biological functions and benefits of human body hair are for example:

    * The hair on our head protects the skull and brain
    * The hair on our body acts an insulator and is linked to our nervous system
    * Our eyebrows prevent water going into your eyes
    * Facial hair absorb ether energy
    * The hair under our armpits prevent friction and irritation when we move our arms

    ----- KESH REHAT - GURBANI UPDESH -----

    There is a principle (vidhaan) of maintaining Kesh.
    ਸੋਹਣੇ ਨਕ ਜਿਨ ਲੰਮੜੇ ਵਾਲਾ ॥
    <CITE>"Beautiful is Your nose and long hair."
    (Ang 567)</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>
    Meaning, those who have beautiful nose and beautiful Kesh, they too are your nose and Kesh. Thus, a Sikh should keep full appearance (i.e. maintain unshorn hair and not pierce the nose), crowned with a turban on the head.

    ਮਾਠਿ ਗੁੰਦਾਈਂ ਪਟੀਆ ਭਰੀਐ ਮਾਗ ਸੰਧੂਰੇ ॥ ਅਗੈ ਗਈ ਨ ਮੰਨੀਆ ਮਰਉ ਵਿਸੂਰਿ ਵਿਸੂਰੇ ॥
    <CITE>"I have woven my hair into lovely braids, plaits, and marked the centre parting with red colouring (Sandhoor); but in the presence of You, I am still not accepted, and (because of this) I am dying suffering in anguish."
    (Ang 558)</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>
    Meaning, braids, plaits, making partings with the hair and adding colour to the hair etc is prohibited for the Sikh of the Guru. Such people do not get accepted the Court of the Lord.

    Any form of intended disfigurement or mutilation of the body is prohibited in Gurmat, including shaving, plucking, tattooing, circumcision, piercing, colouring etc. Guru Ji says:

    ਨਾਪਾਕ ਪਾਕੁ ਕਰਿ ਹਦੂਰਿ ਹਦੀਸਾ ਸਾਬਤ ਸੂਰਤਿ ਦਸਤਾਰ ਸਿਰਾ ॥ 12 ॥
    <CITE>"O person of God! Purify the mind what is impure (with bad thoughts) “this is the religious tradition through which you can experience the Lord's Presence. (Abandoning circumcision, mutilation and deferment of the body etc) preserve a complete appearance with a turban on your head" this becomes the way to maintain respect and honour. ||12||"
    (Ang 1084)</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>
    There is one Salokh of Bhagat Kabeer Ji which is often misquoted by mischievous people trying to justify the un-Godly act of shaving or trimming their hair.

    ਕਬੀਰ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਇਕ ਸਿਉ ਕੀਏ ਆਨ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਭਾਵੈ ਲਾਂਬੇ ਕੇਸ ਕਰੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਘਰਰਿ ਮੁਡਾਇ ॥੨੫॥
    <CITE>"O Kabeer! When you are in love with the One Lord, duality and alienation depart. You may have long matted hair, or you may shave your head bald. ||25||"
    (Ang 1365)</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>
    These lines criticize both those who have long matted hair or shave their head completely in order to achieve union with God. In these lines, the question of keeping or not keeping Kesh is not the case. Similarly Guru Ji says:

    ਕਬੀਰ ਮਨੁ ਮੂੰਡਿਆ ਨਹੀ ਕੇਸ ਮੁੰਡਾਏ ਕਾਂਇ ॥ ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕੀਆ ਸੋ ਮਨ ਕੀਆ ਮੂੰਡਾ ਮੂੰਡੁ ਅਜਾਂਇ ॥੧੦੧॥
    <CITE>"O Kabeer! You have not shaved your mind, so why do you shave your head? Whatever is done, is done by the mind; it is useless to shave your head. ||101||"
    (Ang 1369)</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>
    This salok (couplet) clarifies the above salok.

    As well as having biological functions and benefits, the hair is sacred due to the fact that spiritual energy abides within each and every pore of hair on the body. The hairs are like electrical wires, which preserve, carry and vibrate energy. When one chants & meditates the Divine- Name (Naam), each hair vibrates. Sikhs do not forcibly or intentionally remove any hair from the body but maintain clean hair with proper washing; tying and keeping them covered are requirements for a Sikh.

    Gurbaani (the Divine Word) says:
    ਰੋਮ ਰੋਮ ਮਹਿ ਬਸਹਿ ਮੁਰਾਰਿ ॥
    <CITE>“On each and every hair, the Lord abides.”
    (Ang 344)</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>
    ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਰੋਮਿ ਰੋਮਿ ਹਰਿ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥
    <CITE>“The Gurmukh meditates on the Lord with every hair of his body.”
    (Ang 941)</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>
    ----- KESH REHAT - REHATNAMAS & PURAATAN GRANTH -----

    ਜਬ ਪਹਿਲੇ ਸਬ ਸਿ੍ਰਸਿਟ ਉਪਾਈ । ਤਬ ਹੀ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਦੇਹਿ ਬਨਾਈ ।
    ਤਨ ਇਸ ਕੇ ਸਿਰ ਕੇਸ ਜੁ ਦੀਨੋ । ਸੋ ਇਹ ਤਨ ਸ਼ਿੰਗਾਰਿਹ ਕੀਨੋ ।
    ਦਾੜ੍ਹਾ ਮੁੱਛ ਸਿਰ ਕੇਸ ਬਨਾਈ । ਹੈ ਇਹ ਦਿ੍ੜ ਜਿਹ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਰਜ਼ਾਈ ।
    ਮੇਟ ਰਜ਼ਾਇ ਜੁ ਸੀਸ ਮੁੰਡਾਵੈ । ਕਹੁ ਤੇ ਜਗ ਕੈਸੇ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਵੈ ।
    <CITE>“God created the whole universe and then he fashioned the human body. He gave man a beard, moustaches and hair on the head. He who submits to His Will steadfastly adheres to them. They who deny His Will how will they find God in this world?”
    (Bhai Desa Singh Rehatnama)</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>
    ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਛਾਪ ਸਿਰ ਕੇਸ ਕੀ ਪਾਹੁਲ, ਦੇਇ ਉਤਾਰ ਸੋ ਬੇਮੁਖ ਜਾਨਹੁ।
    ਬੇਟੇ ਕੋ ਬੰਧੁ ਕੋ ਛਾਪ ਮੁੰਡਾਵਤ, ਜਮ ਦੁਖ ਭੋਗ ਕੇ ਪ੍ਰੇਤ ਪਛਾਨਹੁ।
    <CITE>"The Guru's stamp is Kesh and (Khandi di) Pahul, one who removes (their Kesh) is known as an apostate (bemukh). One who shaves the stamp (of the Guru) of their child (i.e. cut their children's hair), realise that person will suffer a terrible death and known as a ghost."
    (Bhai Sahib Singh Rehatnama)</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>
    ਸਾਬਤ ਸੂਰਤ ਰੱਬ ਦੀ, ਭੰਨੇ ਬੇਈਮਾਨ । ਦਰਗਹਿ ਢੋਈ ਨਾ ਮਿਲੇ, ਕਾਫ਼ਰ, ਕੁੱਤਾ, ਸ਼ੈਤਾਨ ।
    <CITE>"God has made the human perfect, but the dishonourable destroy it.
    They will find no place in the Court of God, like the unbeliever, dog and Satanist."
    (Guru Nanak Janam Sakhi)</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>
    ਨਾਈ ਦਾ ਹਥ ਸੀਸ ਚਿਹਰੇ ਨ ਲਗਣਾ ਪਾਵੈ । ਕੇਸਾਧਾਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਦਾ ਪੰਥ ਕਹਾਵੈ ।
    <CITE>"The head (of a Sikh) should never have to pass through the hands of a barber. The Guru's Panth (community) calls itself Keshdhari (those with unshorn hair)."
    (Bansaavaleenama, Bhai Kesar Singh Chhibar)</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>
    ਇਹੈ ਮੋਰ ਆਗਯਾ ਸੁਨੋ ਲੈ ਪਿਆਰੇ ।
    ਬਿਨਾ ਤੇਗ, ਕੇਸੰ ਦਿਵੋ ਨ ਦਿਦਾਰੇ ।
    <CITE>"Listen O beloved ones: It (the Kesh) is my stamp. Without (wearing) a weapon and keeping Kesh, I will not give my audience."
    (Gurbilaas Paatshaahee 10 - Bhai Sukha Singh)</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>
    ਕੇਸਨ ਕੀ ਕੀਜਹੁ ਪ੍ਰਤਿਪਾਲ । ਨ ਉਸਤਰਨ ਸੇ ਕਟਯੋ ਬਾਲ ।੧੮।
    <CITE>"Maintain and look after your Kesh. Do not remove or cut any hair."
    (Gur Panth Prakaash - Rattan Singh Bhangu)</CITE>
    <CITE></CITE>
    ----- NAILS & HAIR -----

    Someone could argue why do Sikhs cut their nails when they don't cut their hair. Firstly, nails and the importance of hair cannot be compared. The hair is sacred that have a spiritual importance whereas the nails merely have biological function. Secondly, nails naturally remain short as they are brittle and rigid as a result of which they break off easily. A Sikh is required to do seva (selfless service) with his or her hands. When a individual uses their hands to do selfless service of washing up dirty dishes, cleaning shoes, sweeping the floor, cooking and serving food then there is no possibility for nails to remain long.

    ----- BHAI TARU SINGH JI - SCALPED ALIVE -----

    A Sikh lives in the grace and glory of God. The Kesh are magnificent. Biologically, physically and spiritually they do so much for us. Looking at the Kesh of a Sikh one sees the Sikh principle of "Living in the Will (Bhaanaa) of the Almighty." The Kesh is a symbol of Sikhism and what the fundamental belief of Sikhs. Bhai Taru Singh jee is a Shaheed (martyr) who is a living reminder of what the Kesh means to the Khalsa. When asked to give up his faith and denounce Sikhi, he preferred to have his scalp removed than cut and disfigure his Sacred Kesh.

    source: http://www.sikhism101.com/node/148

    PERSONAL NOTE:

    In the final analysis the Amritdhari Sikh should pose this question and concern to the "Five Beloved" ones at the nearest Gurdwara to get proper gurmat guidance & direction as per Sikh Reht Maryada!
     
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  10. Caspian

    Caspian
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    Then why cut our fingernails? Why not leave them be as nature intended?

    From what exactly? Physical trauma? I have a hard time picturing hair (no matter how long) protecting the skull from blunt force trauma. And I know of no sikh who is willing to test out that hypothesis.

    The hair that many men and women in the Indian sub contenant developed was likely a measure to better detect the presance of mosquitos on the body. As the sensation the mosquito would produce, brushing alongside ones arm hair for example, could alert the individual to the potential threat. I have difficulty accepting the fact that Indians needed the extra body hair for isulation in one of the hottest countries in the world.

    As for the nervous system bit. Every part of our body is connected to the nervous system essentially. Even if you shave the hair, the nervous system is stil connected to the root of the hair within the skin.

    At this point it seems like the author (i know you didnt write this as ive come across this text before) is grasping at straws.

    Not only is this sexist. As to imply that the majority of women are somehow inferior to men in a spiritual sense. But it is utterly scientifically bogus. What is ether energy? No such thing.

    This point is almost moot. The friction produced is essentially negligble. The main use of this hair is to wick away moisture from the armpits so as not to allow bacteria to congregate in the dank moist region of the armpite. Having said that, modern cleansing habits have made armpit hair obsolete at even that job.



    Simply not true. The above paragraph makes pseudo-science look legitimate. If hair is needed for any spiritual reasons, it doesnt explain why buddhists (who shave their heads and faces and generally have much less visible body hair then sikhs) are as spiritually enlightened as the most enlightened sikhs if not more.



    :p sure it can, I just did it.

    Hairs dont have any verifiable spiritual importance (or else the dalai llama would be evil incarnate lol). I can see where your going with the seva bit. But having been raised in a sikh home, and on more then one occasion, finding long strands of hair in my food (both at home, and at the gurdwara) you could make the same argument against hair as u did for nails.



    This reminds me of Euthyphros Dillema. He states (and im paraphrasing here) "Are good things considered good because god has commanded it; or, are good things considered good because there is something intrinsically or undeniably good about them."

    In this case, you are claiming that kesh is a good thing because our gurus have commanded it and for largely no other defensible reason. If that is the case, Euthophro goes on to say that good things like kesh (or the other 4 k's) are largely arbritray. And if the guru's wanted, they could make anything good for the sake of it (they could have made growing the nails good and you would be sitting here, instead, trying to justify why the nails are good while similarily saying "
    A Sikh does what their Guru tells them to do."

    But you also attempted to suggest that kesh is good because there is something intrinsically good about it (etherrrrr energyyyyy bzzzz). If that was the case, then it is good with or without god commanding it. And even if god commanded against it, it would remain good—by default, because it is intrinsically good. Infact, its "good nature" would be above and beyond gods nature (or a gurus nature) to command things :p

    Of course, in the real world, nothing is good either intrinsically or because someone says its good. They're only good on a relative basis. Wat seems good today might look bad tomorrow depending on changes within the community.


     
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  11. Siri Kamala

    Siri Kamala United States
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    Soul_jyot ji, I very much appreciate the time you have taken to elaborate on the subject of the importance of kesh for Sikhs in such detail.

    With that said, and with great respect, I must disagree with your interpretation of certain cited segments of text there above, but more importantly, this emphasis on kesh seems to be in conflict with the fact that a Sikh is commanded by the Gurus to not follow blindly rituals and superstitions which bring no spiritual or material benefit to the person or community.

    I fail to see how growing my hair long (or should I say longER because my hair is already down my back, though some in the front is cut a little shorter) is going to spiritually or materially benefit me or my community. It's just hair. If I developed alopecia tomorrow and my hair all fell out, God forbid, I'd be no less connected to God than I am now, and I doubt it would damage my community in any way.

    I still say the position that dictates "it should be left to grow untouched because that is natural" is an illogical straw man argument.

    An equally good argument could be made that donning the Khalsa "uniform" in Western culture, as it were, erects a wall that divides us from others in a way that alienates us from the larger community we are in and makes it LESS likely that we will be connected to others in a way that makes it possible for us to be positive contributors and admired leaders.

    I once lived in Juneau, Alaska. Oddly, that was where I became acquainted with Sikhs for the first time. I worked in state government with a woman who was, along with her husband and two children, a 3HO Sikh. They were the only Sikhs in the entire city of 30,000 people. Because she as a devout 3HO Sikh, every day she wore her white uniform. I never saw her in any other color or any other garb.

    I was curious about her because I did not know anything about Sikhs at the time and there were certainly no gurdwaras in Southeast Alaska! So I was not put off by her "differentness" or what she wore, but I can tell you for a fact that many of my coworkers snickered behind her back, thought the way she dressed was "weird," and they found it difficult to take her seriously because her uniform made it so clear that she was different and that her belief system was primary in her life.

    As such, she was avoided and marginalized to some extent. It's human nature -- the confused or ignorant mind says, "No," by default to that which is strange or new.

    If she had dressed in a somewhat more conventional fashion, and let people know about her faith in a more subtle way (maybe just a kara, or a decorative khanda worn in her hair), I'm guessing it would have demystified the faith for a lot of people, and they would have seen it (and her) as more approachable instead of this weird person who always wears this alien foreign costume every day.

    All this to say I'm probably not the best person to come to citing chapter and verse of the Sikh rule book. Many conservative Christians tried to do that to me when I was a Christian to explain to me why I shouldn't dance, or kiss my boyfriend, or attend a certain church, or wear certain types of clothing. They were convinced that their interpretation of the Bible was the only "correct" interpretation. I was not so convinced. The exegetical analysis doesn't end there because there is also the matter of determining what rules only applied to *those particular people*, or to people *at that particular point in time* as opposed to what might apply to ALL people across the span of ALL time. Perhaps it was critically important for Sikhs to keep kesh 300-500 years ago when they were establishing their identity as a faith, but I'm struggling to see how it is really that important now.

    But mostly, things have to make sense to me.

    I have yet to hear a credible and rationally persuasive argument that there is a reason to not cut my hair. I have, in the past, heard reasonably credible arguments in favor of male circumcision -- those arguments have to do with the incidence of cancer in uncircumcised males being somewhat higher than it is for circumcised males, prevention of venereal disease, etc. -- but note that those are arguments that never *need to* resort to "Because God said so" because they can stand on their own merits.

    So... again, thank you. I appreciate the good and righteous intent of what you have offered me. peacesignkaur

    That said, it's just not something that resonates at all with my sense of who God is or what God wants from us.

    And with that I will leave you with Akon & India.Arie singing "I Am Not My Hair"...(which is a fun and fabulously joyful and empowering song, regardless of what one believes about God or hair) -- lyrics are below:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_5jIt0f5Z4

    Akon:
    I can kinda recall a little ways
    small tryin to ball
    I always been black
    And my hair I tried it all
    I even went flat
    Had a gumby, a curly top, and all that crap

    See, I was tryin to be appreciated
    Nappy headed brothas never had no ladies
    Then I hit the barber shop real quick
    Had him give me little twists
    And it drove them crazy

    But then I couldnt get no job
    Cuz corporate wouldn't hire no dread locks
    Then I thought about my dawgs on the block
    Startin to understand why they chose to steal and rob

    Was it the hair that got me this far?
    All these girls, these cribs, these cars?
    I hate to say it but it seems so flawed
    cuz success didnt come till i cut it all off

    Verse 1:
    Little girl with the press and curls
    Age 8 I got a Jheri-curl
    13 and I got a relaxer
    I was the source of so much laughter
    15 when it all broke off
    18 when I went all-natural
    February 2002
    I went on and did what I had to do

    Cuz it was time to change my life
    To become the woman that I am inside
    '97 dread locks all grown
    I looked in the mirror for
    the first time and saw
    that (hey)

    Chorus:
    I am not my hair
    I am not this skin
    I am not your expectations (no)
    I am not my hair
    I am not this skin
    I am the soul that lives within

    Verse 2:
    Good hair means curls and waves.
    Bad hair means you look like a slave
    At the turn of the century
    It´s time for us to redefine who'll we be
    You can shave it off like a South African beauty
    Got it on “lock” like Bob Marley
    You can rock it straight like Oprah Winfrey
    It’s not what’s on your head,
    it’s what’s underneath (and say hey...)

    Chorus:
    I am not my hair
    I am not this skin
    I am not your expectations (no)
    I am not my hair
    I am not this skin
    I am the soul that lives within

    Bridge:
    Does the way I wear my hair make me a better person?
    (no, no, no, no, no...)
    Does the way I wear my hair make me a better friend?
    (no, no, no, no, no...)
    Does the way I wear my hair determine my integrity?
    (no, no, no, no, no...)
    I'm just expressing my creativity!

    Verse 3:
    Breast cancer, chemotherapy
    Took away her crowning glory
    She promised God if she was to survive
    She would enjoy every day of her life
    On national television her
    diamond eyes are sparkling
    Bald-headed like a full moon shining
    Singing out to the whole wide world like, "Heeeey..."

    Chorus x2:
    I am not my hair
    I am not this skin
    I am not your expectations (no)
    I am not my hair
    I am not this skin
    I am the soul that lives within

    If I wanna shave it close
    or I wanna rock locks
    That don’t take a bit away from
    this soul that I got

    If I wanna wear it
    braided all down my back
    I don’t see nothing wrong with that
     
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  12. Navdeep88

    Navdeep88 Canada
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    Siri Kamala, I love how you have considered so much a woman could be dealing with, with this issue!
     
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  13. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Admin note:

    These are acute intellectual reactions to the article posted by Soul Jyot ji regarding kesh. Comments have been issue-oriented and that is a welcome pattern for responses. Please do allow me to remind all that Soul_jyot ji is not so much speaking for himself as bringing the debate and discussion back to gurbani, gurbani urcharan and other sources. The ideas presented are from the sikhism101 site.

    Crucial to the discussion imho is this tuk.

    ਕਬੀਰ ਮਨੁ ਮੂੰਡਿਆ ਨਹੀ ਕੇਸ ਮੁੰਡਾਏ ਕਾਂਇ ॥ ਜੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕੀਆ ਸੋ ਮਨ ਕੀਆ ਮੂੰਡਾ ਮੂੰਡੁ ਅਜਾਂਇ ॥੧੦੧॥
    "O Kabeer! You have not shaved your mind, so why do you shave your head? Whatever is done, is done by the mind; it is useless to shave your head. ||101||"
    (Ang 1369)


    What is it driving toward? Does it conflict with the rehatnamas? Were Sikhs commanded to keep hair at the first baptism, and the creation of the panth? How do we know whether this truly happened? Is it necessary to know with certainty that Guru Gobind Singh asked his khalsa to keep hair. Should it make a difference?

    One other thing to think about. The sikhism101 site is written like a Sikh Catechism, Questions and Answers to be mastered, much as is found in various Christian religions. So another thought question might be this: Is there dogma in Sikhi? The sikhism101 site makes it seem there is. If there is no dogma such as found in Christianity ,then what takes the place of dogma?
     
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  14. Caspian

    Caspian
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    Thats a good point and a great question. I thought I'd start off by clarifying the definition of dogma.

    Dogma
    is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or by extension by some other group or organization. It is authoratative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practioner or believers. - Wikipedia

    Now, I would say that—originally, Sikhism, in its early stages certainly did not contain any dogma. But as sikhi grew and evolved over the course of the 10 guru's it has become dogmatic in one of two ways. The first way is by fault of the general public who take stories (i like to pick on the ganga sagar and baba deep singhs beheading) and revere them to be factual and undisputable even though they simply could not have happened. The second is through direct introduction of dogma by the gurus themselves.

    (im going to use wikipedia again—so if the quote happens to be wrong or taken out of context, I apologise in advance and would eagerly await for someone to correct me with the right quote)

    Guru Gobind Singh Ji goes on to create "Sikhism" (essentially making it final). He introduces the 5 K's and with respect to kesh he goes on to say at the amrit sanchar in 1699:

    "My Sikh shall not use the razor. For him the use of razor or shaving the chin shall be as sinful as incest. For the Khalsa such a symbol is prescribed so that his Sikhs can classified as pure"

    equating cutting or trimming the hair to the act of incest is essentially condemning it to the position where no sikh can question it. (after all, who would question that incest is not immoral?).

    In this form, the dogma was primarily introduced by the 10th guru.

    Often times, I will here sikhs compare their religion to that of the relationship between a student and teacher. The teacher being the guru's. But this is quite a misnomer (almost on par with islam calling itself the religion of equality—it isnt [although, incidently, "the religion of equality" is a more apt title for sikhism]). In any student/teacher relationship there is always a means by where the pupil can question the teacher. Guru Nanak himself questioned many of practices of his time that he considred useless as well.

    Even if one is to concede, that questioning is more then welcome in sikhism (although, i have on numerous occasions, begged to differ. In general, sikh communities dont allow for dissenting voices) and sikh communities. Questioning the neccesaties of the 5 k's have yet to provide sound logical reasoning as Kamala has said before me.
     
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  15. Siri Kamala

    Siri Kamala United States
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    spnadmin ji, thank you for your thoughtful input here.

    I wonder about one other thing -- and perhaps you or Caspian or someone else can clarify for me?

    Is there perhaps one standard demanded of Khalsa Sikhs and another standard for Sikhs who are something other than Khalsa (perhaps Sehajdhari? perhaps baptized but not invested in being part of the Sikh elite to that extent?)?

    I have seen this bandied about in other places on the web and I'm still not clear. So many people talk about it as if the ONLY way to be a "True Sikh"™ is to be a Khalsa Sikh.

    And yet I have read articles like this that seem to think there are many ways of being a true Sikh:
    http://www.sehajdharisikh.in/articles-1.html

    And this article supports that assertion as well:
    http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Who_is_a_Sikh%3F
     
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  16. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Siri kamala ji

    Theory and practical world are two totally different things.The arguement You are giving is the exactly the same argument what sikhs who want to cut their hair gave from past 20-30 years.Andd what is the condition of sikhism in India at present? Sikhs that were considered as brave honest hardworking are losing this image rapidly.Drug addiction ,alchohol ,corruption level everything is going high among sikhs.Sikhism is fastly assimilating itself into Hinduism as many many sikhs have started doing Hindu practices
    .These days in India it is very difficlut to identify who is clean shaven sikh or Gurdwara going Hindu.

    May be your logic that how keeping uncut hair makes me closer to god is true ,but may this logic could become One of the prime reason for the assimilation of large number of sikhs in Hinduism in India and sikhism will become part of Hinduism
     
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  17. findingmyway

    findingmyway
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    This debate seems to be going round in circles as all debates about kesh do. Kesh is not a requirement to follow the Guru Granth Sahib on ONLY a spiritual level. However, kesh is highly symbolic. It is symbolic of your commitment to Sikhi. It is a way of declaring to the world I am not afraid to be who I am and I am not afraid to stand up for the downtrodden-it was a way to stop people running away when things got tough. Once you start making small concessions, where do you draw the line? Giving in just because things are tough is not very brave! It is hard but that is how spirituality complements keeping the outer experience, as it gives us the strength to wear it with pride. Spirituality stops us caring about what the world thinks and gives us the grace to carry it off with pride that commands respect. If you do not want criticism for not reaching that stage (remember Sikhi is a journey), then do not criticise others who hold those things dear, respect them for the courage they show.
    Kesh is a requirement of Sikhi, when you are ready for it. It is not for God, but for ourselves, to encourage us to be true to ourselves and not be swayed by this transient world.
     
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  18. Mai Harinder Kaur

    Mai Harinder Kaur
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    First, this thread is mistitled. There is no such thing as un-natural growth of hair anywhere on the human body unless you're using Rogaine or some such. I doubt that many women rub or spray Rogaine on their faces.

    Next. Love to all. kaurhug

    What I say next is my personal opinion. Just my opinion. I speak for no one but myself. There are two sorts of Sikhs:


    1. Those who are Amritdhari or working toward accepting Amrit or long to receive Amrit but can't for one reason or another and those who aren't sure but feel they will have some interest in Amrit in the future.
    2. Those who have little or no interest in Amrit.
    Those in the second group I have little to say to. I have never understood the point of being Sikh if there is no interest in Amrit.

    The second group, I can talk to. Again, this is my opinion only. Every hair on the bottom is to be left as it is after Amrit. (There might be a medical exception for necessary hair removal for surgery.) I always suggest that anyone contemplating Amrit to live as a Khalsa for a few months first. It can do no harm and might do a world of good. The reaction might be anything from "Waheguru! I've been looking for this all my life!" to "Nope. This isn't for me yet."

    I have a few stray hairs growing on my chin and a light dusting above my upper lip. I was mercilessly teased in high school about my hairy legs and underarm jungle. I understood even then that this thing of hair removal fetish is simply social vanity and a search for social acceptance. The Amritdhari Sikh - ideally - has no use for either of these. We ARE different and proud of the difference. Few of us, however, are ideal and remarks and looks can cut deep. Each of us needs to decide whether the privilege of being an Amritdhari Sikh is worth it or not. Standing against the social norms is a painful and strengthening experience. I am sure that Guru Gobind Singh understood this perfectly well when he mandated that Khalsa have unshorn hair.

    You might notice that I refrain from using the word "Khalsa." We receive the title of Khalsa with the Amrit; the reality is that becoming Khalsa (pure) is a long drawnout process. I usually refer to myself as an aspiring Khalsa. I'm just not there yet.

    BTW, I believe it was Yogi Bhajan Singh of the 3HOs that came up with the idea that facial hairs on women was a deformity and should be removed. IMO, that says more about the Yogi's taste in women than it does about kes in Sikhi.

    Now to the topic of dogma. I would say, yes, there is a dogma, something one must believe to be a Sikh. That would be the Mool Mantra.

    ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ

    There are so many translations, none even slightly adequate! Here is the translation from Wikipedia: "one God, truth by name, the creator, without fear, without hatred, timeless in form, beyond birth, self existent, (known by) the grace of the Guru." It's as good as any. The paragraph on translation is really good, so I include it here:

    Again, this is my opinion. Take it or leave it. please leave me in peace. peacesignkaur

    So much more to say, but that's enough for now, I think.gingerteakaur
     
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  19. Caspian

    Caspian
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    Kamala

    Inorder to be considered a sikh in the religious sense—you have to wear the 5 k's. If you dont, you can call yourself a sikh in the cultural sense or w.e. But I dont think I would consider a clean-shaved individual professing to be a sikh as actually being a sikh.

    Kanwardeep

    Which is a problem dont you think? Shouldnt sikhs be trying to consolidate between the two, or atleast comprimise between them. What point is being a sikh in theory (clean shaved sikhs who are essentially great people) when your going to be talked down upon by "practicing sikhs" (who look the part, but dont act the part).

    Its the exact same argument because the argument makes logical sense. Unlike the arguments in favor of keeping the kesh which have been outlined and refuted so easily above.

    This has nothing to do with the 5 k's though. When you think of the "stereotypical punjabi sikh" who is engaging in drug addiction, alcohol consumption, curruption or general buffoonary—you dont think of the clean shaved sikhs as much as you think of the sikhs with the 5 k's. There is always some truth to any stereotype, and while i dont believe all sikhs (clean shaven or practicing) are bafoons—i can definately say, its a problem thats NOT just affecting clean shaved sikhs.

    Im sure your as concerned, with telling the difference between clean-shaved sikhs and hindus, as westerners are with telling the difference between a practicing sikh and a muslim. (lol, it seems like either which way you go, ur being confused for a hindu or a muslim. so i dont buy this reasoning).

    Other then that I really dont have much of an argument here. I find it silly that when it pretains to the 5 K's most sikhs on this site want all of their fellow sikh brothers and sisters to become practicing "5k adorning" sikhs. For the perserving of the religion—dont want to be assimilated right?

    But when it comes to matters that seem more likely to harm the sikh public. Like the belief in superstitions and fairy tales (ganga sagar, etc). I get answers from you guys like "you should be more concerned with your own spiritual growth and not that of others."

    I find that very odd. As if the sikh community is largely a superficial one. Just as superficial as any other community and that is whats so weird about it. As a Canadian growing up Sikh in a western country. I have to deal with the superficiality of western preconceptions of "whats makes a man handsome" while simultaneously dealing with the superficiality of my sikh community over "what makes a person religious." Thats all the 5 k's have done, they've turned religion and spirituality into a superficial matter. As if putting a turban on a man is going to make him any more or less saintly.

    I mean you talk about readily being able to differentiate between hindu's and sikhs. But this differentiation is so very superficial. It seems more important to me to be able to differentiate between GOOD and BAD people but no amount or lack of hair, hindu thread, islamic veil, catholic collar or scientologist "doo-hickey" is going to help you do that. And I fear, atleast superficially, the 5 K's have been connected with the concept of "Good" (as it pretains to a persons character) when we know there is no such correlation.
     
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  20. Navdeep88

    Navdeep88 Canada
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    Wow, thats some heavy baggage. it really does come down to the individual. I happen to think the idea of Sikhi is very noble, dont let an image define what it means to you, it comes from the inside out. You dont have to take everything, all at once, let go of what doesnt make sense to you, and embrace what does...thats what i did. Your wasting your time by focusing on things that irk you because the only person you have control over is you, and how you can be the best of yourself so you can help others, which is what we're really here for.

    Really being angry about this, butting heads, is gonna get you nowhere, been there, done that. Go to the very basics, start reading gurbani, allow yourself to get past the external things...if your not willing to do that....

    then (I say this not to offend or hurt anyone) if it means cutting your hair, if thats what this issue is about, an image you feel you cant carry or belong to, then I suggest you change it. If it means completely breaking away, and figuring things out on your own so you feel in control of your life, I think that is for the best. I promise you, you will come back to it, in your own way.
     
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  21. Caspian

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    :p Indeed. I kinda like what I said though. It makes sense to me, and i think most sikhs can agree that at some level, religion has become superficial in the sikh community. They might not want to believe it, or they might not think thats how they view things, but with respect to the general sikh consensus—i feel like my comments were warranted.

    Well yes, thats kinda what I am doing, lol kinda....
    Trying to help others that is, its just, most of my advice doesnt come from a sikh-centric point of view.

    My advice for the girl being alluded to in the beggining of this post—get rid of your beard, dont let it define you superficially if you dont want it too. and i mean both kinds of superficial, the physical and the religious.
     
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