Why do monks shave their heads?

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Wisdom For Seekers / Yogic Physiology


On some spiritual paths, monks shave their heads. But on others, they grow their hair long. What is this about?


Duration: 9 min


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6 min read

Why do monks shave their heads?

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Questioner: On some spiritual paths, monks shave their heads. But on others, they grow their hair long. What is this about?

Sadhguru: Now.. We’ve spoken plenty about this. But anyway…. If you prune this tree today, the tree will focus its energy towards the area that’s been pruned. And you will see – suppose you prune this part of the tree, and don’t prune that – you will see in this part of the tree, the number of leaves that will come out in the next 15 days or a month is much, much more than in the other part of the tree. Have you noticed this? Yes or no? Because now that this is pruned, the tree directs its energy in that direction. The others, it will leave and direct this way, because here the leaf must come back.

If you suddenly remove this hair, then you will see the energies will move in that direction

The same happens in your body. If you suddenly remove this hair, then you will see the energies will move in that direction. So people who are doing certain type of sadhana, want that to happen. So people don’t just shave their head, whenever they feel like it. On the darkest night of the month, which is called the shivaratri. The fourteenth day of the moon’s faces, one day before amavasya. On that day they shave because on that day, and the amavasya day, and the next day – when naturally there is an upsurge of energy in the human system – we want to accelerate that a little more. So on that day it is taken off. Because there is sadhana attached to that. If there is no sadhana, it won’t make much of a difference.

Some of you may know that – particularly ladies who have never shaved their head in their life, suddenly one day if they go and shave their hair, they will become mentally imbalanced. Because excessive energy in the direction, they are not able to handle. If already there is a small imbalance, it will exaggerate itself. Because there is an excess energy movement in that direction. But if it’s calibrated properly and there is a necessary sadhana to support it, it works to your benefit.

So, a spiritual seeker, a sadhaka – who is not only seeking for his spiritual wellbeing, who is seeking how to become an instrument of a larger possibility – such a person wants to use every little support that is available in nature. So, shaving ones head is a part of that. If there is no such sadhana, if that type of sadhana is not there, shearing off the hair has really no meaning, as such.

If those two chakras [outside body] become active in someone, then we will not shave

And, if somebody reaches a state where his energies are really bursting out of his head. If you activate the two chakras which are above the physical body. If those two chakras become active in someone, then we will not shave. In fact, we would like to grow it and tie it up just above that, so that it is protected and nurtured. If you don’t have enough hair, we will use cloth. You think I’m bandaged or something? Just in my leg, but. So if there is not enough hair, then you have to use something else. But you will need that, otherwise there will be…. Once the two chakras above the physical body are on – it’s a phenomenal possibility, but it also makes your physical body little fragile. It tends to draw more than it should.

And this is the reason a lot of yogis die before they’re 35. Because once they attain to a certain level of energy – if they don’t know all the different aspects of the body. If they do not understand the mechanics of how the human system functions. If you do not understand all the tricks of the creator, in how many ways he’s made this so complex and sophisticated. Because sophistication is not just to make it complicated. Sophistication means there are more possibilities, than simplistic machine. This is a highly sophisticated machine. So once the energies have topped off, then it needs to be protected. If you have thick long hair, that could be made use of, it’s a natural garment. If you don’t have or if you’re afraid you will lose your hair, then you dreadlock it. You know the dreadlocks? You’ve seen in saadhu, sanyasis – it can be done. I won’t tell you how, because if you start going around with dreadlocks, that will not be good. There is a way to get your hair into a dreadlock. So you do that. Or, if you don’t have that much hair, then you use something else. Garment or a cloth comes in handy.

If somebody worries about something, they will lose weight

The nature of the body is such, the volume of energy that one neuron consumes in the body, in the in the brain, is many many many fold more than what one cell in the body consumes. So, in terms of the physical structure, how the energy consumption is distributed – you can see this yourself, if somebody worries about something, they will lose weight. The best ways to lose weight is worry about something. You know that, isn’t it? Yes or no? Because more activity means, more stressful activity in the brain means, it’ll consume a lot of energy and it will bring down the body’s weight.

So, the reason why Hatha Yoga is important as it is, is simply to be able to conduct the body in such a way that your energies are well rooted in your physicality, before you attempt higher possibilities. If one is not well rooted in his physicality, then higher possibilities will take you off from physicality. Taking you off from physicality means – one may become less capable physically, or he may leave altogether.

Some of the Buddhist scriptures say – Gautama, before his enlightenment walked like a man. After his enlightenment, he walked like a woman. What they are trying to say is, the body became less. Physically, definitely a male body is a little more than a female body. So, he became a little less. So, he became – he lost his manly capabilities, and became soft. Because his energy shifted to a different dimension – that’s what they are trying to say.

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