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Why do monastics shave their heads?

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  • Why do monastics shave their heads?


    I have been asked by people many times why the monastics shave their heads. I always answer truthfully in that I don't know. I have a few theories, but the true reason, I'm assuming from the vinaya, I would like to know so that when i asked again I can give a truthful answer that may inspire someone or dispel some myths about buddhism.
    Thank you for your time in considering what may seem a whimsical question.



  • #2
    In the time of the Buddha, there was a class of wandering ascetics. These ascetics belonged to a number of different teachers and followed a wide variety of spiritual practices. It was their practice to shave the head to indicate they had left the worldly life behind. Then, when the Buddha began to teach he laid down the rule in the Vinaya that monks must shave their heads every 2 monks or until it reached 2 finger breadths long.

    At Bodhinyana we shave on the day before each uposatha.



    • #3
      Something I have heard, is that when someone died, they would shave the head of the corpse and wrap it in a cloth.
      The samana look mimics this - it makes them, quite graphically, someone who has left the world behind.


      • #4
        Thank you

        Dear Ven. Jhanarato and Blake,

        I sincerely appreciate your explanations of this tradition. I will now be able to answer the questions about this truthfully and with knowledge. Thank you both for your time.

        Sincerely and with metta,



        • #5

          I too didn't know the Vinaya rule (monastic discipline) why the sangha shave their heads. But thought it is very practical when living a monastic life sometimes in seclusion in the forests etc. So they all look somewhat the same.... same robes, same hair (or no hair). Helps to concentrate on inner peace rather than anything outward.
          With metta



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