Why do people shave their head for God? (and also other similar practices)
Mehra Amit asked like this:
“Hare Krishna Prabhu ji, please tell me why at Tirupati Temple, women devotees shaves their head….why they do it… and is this shaving of head is only for women and not for men.. please advise.”
It is a kind of sacrifice or thanks giving.
(1) Sacrifice: Shaving head is the mark of renunciation. Now a days, both men and women do that. No such restrictions to donate hairs.
(2) Thanks Giving: Many devotees pray to the God that they will contribute their hairs if that god fulfils their particular prayer like marriage, job, cure from diseases, etc. Once they get the benefits, they give their hairs as a mark of thanks.
Every zone in India has separate devotional practices. In south India, offering the hairs is a prominent custom.
It is believed that hairs gives a good appearance for the people. When the devotee shaves his head, he is foregoing his beauty.
This also reduces his ego and the pride of beauty. In other words, he is placing his ego on the feet of God.
Further, when the person has beautiful hairs, he/ she will be disturbed by the opposite sex. But, with the shaved head, he will be having less disturbance from the opposite sex since he himself will hesitate to initiate his interactions towards the opposite sex. So, he will have more devotional thinking.
This reduces his attachment to the material affairs.
This is the main reason for shaving the head.
However, now a days, this practice is ending just as rituals. The people just shave their head in a temple and after that they continue their usual way of life without getting reformed even 10%.
They give their head as if the god needs it since the temple will get revenue by selling the hairs.
Many such practices are performed without knowing the real meaning.
By selling the hairs, the temples earn crores of income. This is the only positive thing now a days.
The hairs are used to make wicks and also to produce proteins. There is a company in Puduchery Union territory In India that manufactures protein from the human hairs.
Thus, the sacrifice of hairs favour the temple only now a days, not the devotees beause they give the hairs as a ritual only.
Similarly, there is a belief that the people who visits Kashi (Varanasi) should give up a vegetable or fruit or grain that is favourite to him.
But, the actual advice is that one should give up any of his bad habits and attachments to the material world. Even if we accept giving up a vegetable or fruit or grain as the mark of deserting attachments, he should give up his most favourite vegetable or fruit or grain.
Is it happening? No.
But, he resolves in Kashi that he will not eat a vegetable or fruit or grain that he hates the most, or, that is very costly.
They do not give up any of his bad practices.
Thus, we are following good practices without knowing their meaning.
I have some opinions in the matter of hairs in devotion.
This will help them to be safe without attracting the materialistic people towards them. Only the like minded devotees will approach them and associate with them.
In some religious sects, they encourage keeping long hairs and beard as the mark of devotional way of life.
How contrary concept this is!
That is why, the people around the world get confused with the different concepts for a single matter.
When we shave the head and face completely, we have to watch the face daily and shave again and again to keep the face and head without hairs. This consumes significant part of our time that can be spent in the devotional practices.
Contrarily, if they allow long hairs, they will find it difficult to maintain it.
Thus, there are problems in both the practices.
That is why, I give less importance for outer appearance and give emphasize for internal changes.
If a person gives up his material attachments, he will not care to show either shaved head or long hairs.
He just shaves whenever possible for him and concentrate in devotion from within his heart.
However, for resident devotees of temples and sanyasis, such devotional appearance is advisable since others can identify their prime business is to serve the Lord. Nothing else.
Other working devotees and students can be given some relaxation in the outlook because it may add new mental agony to them. Since devotional service is not their main activity while studying or working, such relaxations can be permitted on case to case.
Dress codes and appeance should not become a cause for the mental agony for the students and employees. Instead, they can be allowed to remain in normal appeance till they take devotional service as their full time activity.
After taking devotional service as their full time activity, they can change their appearance.
Hope you are clear with the blind effects of outlook when they are followed without understanding the meaning.