KES (THE SEAL OF GURU SAHIB)
KES (THE SEAL OF GURU SAHIB)*
By: Bhai Madan Singh
Advancement of technology and science has made human beings more sceptics than before. Man has landed on moon, has discovered new planets and has made numerous inventions but, on the other hand, it has lost a lot of religious, mystic and spiritual wealth". The above statement by Dr. Harjinder Singh Dilgeer (in his article "Religion and Modern Man") is the summing up of the crisis of each and every living religion. The well renowned author on the Sikh faith writes: "Though all the religions have been affected by scepticism, atheism, degradation of moral values but Sikhism, the religion of the future ages, has suffered the greatest blow, partly because of the loss of spiritual values and partly due to fashion and mob mentality. Weak and feeble minds easily fall prey to such effects." "To imitate others, especially the majority community or the ruling class is a part of petty human nature. Adopting new fashions is not a desire to show one’s existence but it is a characteristic of an average weak person. Mob mentality leads an ordinary person to adopt a new fashion even without bothering for its merits and demerits or even its suitability for him/her".
The world today is passing through constant change in the world of fashion, dress, food and other aspects of life. Our food is not the same as it was a hundred years ago. We have adopted the dress of our former rulers. And now, cutting [disrespecting] of hair has become a craze equally among the men and women. It is amazing to note that a very large number of women have begun discarding their hair. Cutting hair is being considered as a part of so-called modern culture.
This mob mentality has become the order of the day. This has affected the whole of the world.
Though keeping unshorn hair has been a part and parcel of each and every religion, only the Sikhs observe this religious discipline in a strict manner. The Christians, the Muslims and the Hindus have renounced hair. The mob mentality and so-called fashion has begun affecting the Sikhs also. It would have been catastrophic even for the Sikhs had not the Tenth Nanak (Guru Gobind Singh Sahib) ordered keeping unshorn hair as an obligation for a Sikh. It is a commandment of Guru Sahib: "Hair are the seal of Guru."
Let us have a glance at the importance of hair among different religions:
Christianity is still the most dominating religion on the Globe. Jesus Christ was the founder of Christian faith. The followers of the Christian faith consider him as ‘son of God’. Jesus himself had long unshorn hair. According to a report sent by the Governor of the land to the emperor about Jesus, he (Jesus) was a pretty young person with fine brown hair. He had a fine beard that too was long like his hair. Another contemporary of Christ mentions him as a young person with long curly hair. All the companions of Jesus too had long hair like him. The Christians, though they assert themselves as believers in their "lord", but they have turned their backs to his teachings by renouncing their hair.
Moses, the founder of Judaism, was born the son of Imran, a descendant of Hazrat Nuh. According to Jewish faith, Adam was the first man on this earth. Christianity and Islam tool believe the same about Adam. But, all of them also believe that Adam was a man with unshorn hair. The power of hair has been explained in the legend of Samson the powerful, who was a very exceptionally strong and powerful person and the secret of his prowess was in his unshorn hair. This story too is believed by the above-mentioned three religions.
Mohammed [Sahib] was the founder of Islam. Mohammed too had unshorn hair. The contemporaries as well as historians and biographers of Mohammed have confirmed this fact. Khwaja Hassan Nizami Dehalvi, in his book "Kabron ke Ghaibi Navishtey", mentions that Mohammed was a very
tall man with long hair and turban on his head. He commanded his followers not to cut their hair. Even the 27th Ayat of Islamic faith forbids a Muslim to cut his hair/beard.
There is a sect in Mecca (the religious capital of Islam), known as Wahabis; Abdul Wahab who is known by his followers as ‘son of Mohammed’ founded this sect. The followers of this faith do not cut
their hair from any part of their body. Bahaullah was the chief of a religious sect of Islam in Iran. He had instructed his followers not to cut their hair.
Hair is so sacred for a Muslim that a Muslim going to Mecca for Hajj (religious obligation for every Muslim), is strictly forbidden to cut even a single hair from any part of his/her body. Muslim Sufi poet
Sheikh Farid too mentions that a Muslim always keeps unshorn hair (Guru Granth sahib, p. 1380). Hair is so sacred in Islam that once Pir Buddhu Shah, who was an ardent admirer of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, once visited him (Guru Sahib). At that time Guru Sahib was combing his hair. Guru Sahib asked him, "What can I do for you?" The Pir asked Guru Sahib, Please give me the gift of your comb along with the hair in it" The descendants of Pir Buddhu Shah claim that they still have the same comb and Guru Sahib’s hair with them.
Aurangzeb [one of the sons of Mughal Emperor Shahjahan] was a fundamentalist Sunni Muslim. He had forbidden the Hindus from keeping unshorn hair so that the Hindus should not look like the Muslims. Aurangzeb himself had a long beard and he never cut his beard throughout his life.
Vedas, Purans, Upanishadas, Samritits, Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata are among the major books of the Hindus. There are several references in these books, which reveal that all the Hindu missionaries and the other prominent persons had unshorn hair, beards and moustaches. Some of these references are as follows:
1. Rigveda: All the Gandhrav people had unshorn hair. Hair is divine blessing.
2. The mythical gods of sun, water, medicine, vegetation etc have unshorn hair.
3. The mythical Hindu god Inder has unshorn hair and it is the hair that gives him real strength.
4. In the Rig-Veda, there is a prayer; made by the Brahmins that asks the people to seek from God the gift of long hair.
5. According to Yajur-Veda Chinese, Tehranis, Mangols never shaved their hair because the hair is the source of energy, brilliance, warmth and lustre.
6. According to the Balmiki Ramayna, Ravana had long hair. Ravana’s companions were deeply pained when Jatau pulled Ravana’s hair.
7. Muni Sukdev, who used to give sermons to the council of the kings, had unshorn hair.
8. Raja Virat had unshorn hair.
9. Durbhaga Rishi too had long unshorn hair and beard.
10. Budha, the founder of Buddhism, had unshorn hair.
11. The founder of Jainism [Digambe and Shawetamber] had unshorn hair.
12. According to the commandments of Brahmi Sahinta (Bhavikhat Puran) "only those who have unshorn hair have a right to be rulers of the land."
13. Dharam Shastra forbids the Sanyasis from cutting their hair.
14. According to Dharam Sahinta cohabiting partners should not touch the hair of each other while making love, in order to preserve the sanctity of their hair.
15. According to Ketya Samriti one should always cover one’s hair while taking meals.
16. One must comb one’s hair regularly and every day.
17. Combing hair makes eyesight sharper.
18. According to Shiv Puran, Shivji (the mythical Hindu godfather of the elephant headed Hindu god]), once, while addressing his wife Parvati, said, "Those who have a Guru or have Gurmantra (teaching from the Guru) should always have unshorn hair".
19. The Hindu sociologist Manu says that if a Brahmin commits an act of sin his hair should be shaved off. It is more than hanging him.
20. According to Manu it is a sin to touch the hair of an opponent even while fighting.
Kunal Kashmiri, in one of his famous articles, published in Partap newspaper, writes about the forms of punishment given to the sinners and the criminals in different societies. According to his research
there are certain punishments, which have been common among different societies e.g. shaving of head, cutting of beards or moustaches of the sinners/criminals. This pattern had been adopted by most of the societies of the medieval ages. Cutting [shaving off and/or trimming] of hair, beards or moustaches has been considered as a great insult in most of these societies and this belief has been the same in the east and the west. Among the Pathans it is still considered the greatest punishment for a religious or moral offender. There are numerous examples in the Hindu history and society mentioning that shaving head or cutting beard or moustache was the greatest punishment for a sinner.
In the western world too there have been instances when cutting or insulting the hair, beard or moustaches led to battles or other crises. In 1185, Emperor John insulted some Irish nobles by cutting their beards. This led to major revolt by the Irish people. A war between Spain and England was caused by the remarks of the [then] English king in which he had suggested that the beard of the ruler of Spain
should be trimmed."
According to Kunal Kashmiri, nowadays the people have begun shaving their beards and moustaches; hence they do not give the others a chance to punish them by ordering cutting of their beards and moustaches (meaning thereby that they themselves insult themselves by cutting their beards and moustaches). There are several references in the Sikh scriptures that refer to the sanctity of hair, moustaches and beards:
My Lord, I shall sacrifice myself to your saints I shall make a Chaur (fly flicker) of my hair (to clean their feet of such saintly persons) and mark my face with the dust of their feet (Guru Granth Sahib, p. 749).
I shall always concentrate upon the feet of my Satguru [the Almighty Lord] shall clean the dust from his feet with my hair [the Eter Guru (Holy Scripture of the Sikhs) Guru Granth Sahib, p. 387]
Only those beards are true (pious) which touch the feet of the Guru (Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1419)
I shall serve His servants shall (clean the dust from) his feet with my hair (Guru Granth Sahib, p. 810)
I shall clean the dust from his (real saints’) feet this is the yearning of my life (p. 500)
In the Sikh scriptures, there are some such references also, which warn the people that if they commit some sin their beard shall be insulted upon:
Those who strike their beards on the poor, The Almighty shall burn them (in the fear of hell) (p. 199)
Guru Sahib gave strict command to the Sikhs not to cut their hair from any part of their bodies as the "Kesas are the seal of Guru". A Hukamnama issued to the Sikhs of Kabul (Afghanistan) in May 1699,
mentions this command in unequivocal words:
"All the Sikhs of Kabul! I am very pleased with you. You must get initiation [Amrit] of Khanda from the Five (Panj Piarey, or the five beloved ones). Always keep unshorn hair, it is my seal. Never part with Kachhehra and Kirpan. Always wear an iron Kara on your wrist. Comb your hair twice a day [using a Kangha]. The Sikhs should never eat the Muslim meat (Kuttha i.e. Halal). Never use tobacco. Never cut your hair. Do not have any relationship with those who kill their daughters [i.e, the female fetus]. Do not sit in the company of the Meenas, Masands, and Ramraiaya. Recite Gurbani. Meditate in the \name of Waheguru [the Wonderful Lord]. Act upon the instructions of the Guru. I am pleased with all the Sangat". Issued on 26th of Jeth 1756 (corresponding to May 1699)
The Rahitnamas (the Sikh Code of Conduct) edited by different writers, too support this fact:
1. A Guru’s Sikh shall never cut his hair (Bhai Chaupa Singh)
2. A Sikh must always have Kachhehra, Kes and fine turban on his person. (Sarb Loh Granth)
3. The Khalsa of Waheguru should always have unshorn hair, untied beard and a fine turban. (Gur Sobha)
There are several more references in the Rahitnamas and other books, which confirm that Guru Sahib, strictly rejected cutting of hair any form from the body of a Sikh. A Sikh shall prefer getting his scalp
chopped off instead of allowing cutting of his hair.
Not only religiously and spiritually, hair is of great importance from health and medicine point of view also:
1. An average man has 85000 to 125000 hairs on his head. After some period, the growth of hair stops automatically. Protein is very essential for the perseverance of heath. When one cuts one’s hair time and again a lot of protein is used in the growth of new hair, hence it leads to loss of protein in body, which becomes a cause of several diseases.
2. Vitamin D is very useful for proper functioning of the nervous system, teeth and other bones in human body. Long hair are a source of Vitamin D. Longer the hair larger the amount of Vitamin D in human body. Ignorant people are bent upon destroying Vitamin D by cutting their hair. To compensate this loss they have to eat pills of Vitamin D, which further lead to several side effects and other problems.
3. Hair help in protecting one from extreme heat as well as cold. Hair is a good conductor of the system of body temperature. A man with hair and turban has the benefit of balance of one’s body temperature, whereas one who cuts his hair has to cover his head with one or another headgear. In spite of this he cannot get natural benefits of hair and turban.
4. Cutting hair leads to loss of several precious elements from one’s body e.g. zinc, chromium, lead,
selenium, etc. These elements are necessary for immunization of one’ body from diseases. Men and
women who have long hair have usually better health. Long hair is especially beneficial to the women who are in family way or those who breast-feed their children. The above-mentioned elements are necessary for such women and by cutting their hair they suffer a lot.
5. The psychologists believe that hair create the feeling of noble-ness in a human being which prevents him/her from committing sins and crimes.
6. Cutting hair leads to tooth decay. People with long hair have better teeth.
7. Hair is also helpful in longevity of life span.
8. Scientists have proved that moustaches help human body form diseases of breath. The moustaches
play the role of a filter.
9. Psychologists like Freud, Angles, Karl Gustav etc., have presented a thesis that every woman likes to look like a man and every man desires to exhibit himself like a woman. It is this tendency, which leads a man
to cut his beard and moustache. Those who wish to exhibit their masculine qualities do not cut their hair.
Although Sikhism is the youngest of all the living religions, it is perhaps the only religion, which can pass the scientific test. To quote Bernard Shaw, "Sikhism is the religion of the New Age " Guru Nanak
Sahib gave the world the newest religion which has a message for each and every person on this earth. Guru Gobind Singh Sahib revealed Khalsa and gave it spiritual discipline. He gave spiritual status to hair
by calling it "Seal of Guru". Guru Sahib, in clear words, commanded that a Sikh is one who lives the life of a Sikh i.e. a truthful life (as explained by Guru Nanak Sahib in Japuji Sahib). Guru Gobind Singh
Sahib said that he shall give all his power to that Khalsa who live Sikhi way of life. Guru Sahib [the 10th Master] before his departure from this ephemeral world announced that no Sikh would ever have a right to change even a single line of the Word of the Almighty (as contained in Guru Granth Sahib, the Guru-Eternal) nor the right to distort human body (by cutting hair from any part of his/her body). One who disobeys Guru Sahib’s command cannot be called a Sikh at all.