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WAS GURU NANAK CLEANSHAVEN?



WAS GURU NANAK CLEANSHAVEN?

by B. S. Goraya

ਇਹ ਲੇਖ ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਵਿਚ ਵੀ ਹੈਗਾ।

http://www.punjabmonitor.com/2013/05/was-not-guru-nanak-kesdhari-in-punjabi.html
We know the Sikhs are prohibited to cut the hair of any part of their body by the commandment of the tenth Guru. Yet some people claim that Guru Nanak himself was not kesadhari i.e one who maintains hair. So much so that He is shown in a cap in some eighteenth century Janam Sakhis, the biographies. lt is thus interesting to know whether he was really a kesadhari?
Thus before coming to the real issue let "us examine the habit of lndian people on  preserving hair. Al Biruni who accompanied Mehmud Gaznavi during his invasions wrote a book; Kitab ulHind which gives a very detailed account of the people and their habits in lndia. Kitab ul Hind which has been considered as the best of all the travelogues from historical point of view, writes under the subtitle ‘Strange Manners and Customs of the Hindus:
"Many Hindu customs differ from those of our country and of our time to such a degree as to appear to us simply monstrous. One might almost think that they had intentionally changed them into the opposite, for our customs do not resemble theirs, but are the very reverse; and if ever a custom of theirs resembles one of ours, it has certainly just the opposite meaning. They do not cut any of the hair of the body. Originally they went naked in consequence of the heat and by not cutting the hair of the head they intended to prevent sunstroke., They divide the moustache into single plaits in order to preserve it. As regards not cutting the hair of the genitals, they try to make people believe that the cutting of it incites to lust and increases carnal desire. Therefore some of them feel a strong desire for cohabitation never cut the hair of the genitals" (lndia Al Biruni -National Book Trust, New Delhi).
 Al Biruni's explanation of Hindus keeping of hair is incorrect. lt is not the climate rather the command from ancient holy scriptures and the traditions that expected of a Hindu to keep the hair unshorn. Be it the four Vedas, Upanishidas, Samhitas, Purana, Ramayana or Mahabharata or smritis  all treat shearing of hair as an irreligious act; unbecoming of a Hindu.
Interestingly Manu Simriti which is highly biased against the shudra class commands cutting of brahmin’s hair in the event of his conviction in a murder and  thus treats cutting of body hair equal to capital punishment. (while for the similar offence committed by a shudra, he is to be killed as a punishment.) Shaving a person in public was considered the biggest humiliation. Even today if somebody is to be humiliated his moustaches are shaved.
Recently Benazir's brother Murtaza Bhutto took her husband Asif Ali Zardari in his custody and shaved his moustache. Zardari then the husband of a Prime Minister revenged by murdering Murtaza. They are surely not Hindus but the tradition has flown down the ages to the present Muslim generation of the erstwhile Hindus.
When decay crept in the brahmin class their members often had to face publicly cutting of hair of their members. On the other hand there was another unfortunate practice among Hindus i.e of self sacrifice at the altar of the deity. Some would lay down their lives at the death of their dear ones. So much so even the nineteenth century European travelers to India have furnished vivid account of such human sacrifices at Bhairov temples at various places.
Around the early medieval days the brahmins dissuaded an important 'zazmans' who was bent upon self immolation at the altar of Devi or Bhairav and informed them that if the zazman shaved the hair of his body that act also amounted to self immolation. This slowly gave birth to the practice of 'mundan' or ‘bhaddan’ at the time of pilgrimage. Pleasing of deity thus became very easy. The practice of mundan at the time of pilgrimage is still very much prevalent. Our honourable ex-president Mr. Shankar Dayal Sharma had also had a close head shave at Tirupati temple only a few years ago.
There was only a slight difference between the ancient ceremony of mundan and that of the present day. ln the ancient days full grown hair was shorn while ours Sharma sahib had early  had the hair cut from a Cannought Place barber and then, went for had a deep shaving at Tirupati. The practice of Sati in the lndian society is not unknown to any student of lndian social system where in the near dear would jump in the burning pyre for self immolation as life would be unbearable without the person who had departed due to death. Here again the brahmins advised their zazmans that a close shave of body hair amounted to death and there was no need to jump in the cruel fire. Thus both men and women started shaving them selves by having close shaves.
The Muslims and thus Mughal emperors and looked at kesadhari Hindus with contempt. At  least three such firmans or the royal promulgations or notifications of the empire are available in original where in it is commanded that all the Hindus have their hair cut. ln Jaipur and Jodhpur archives these firmans are preserved in the form of Akhbarat e Durbar e Mualla i,e the news of Royal Court where in it is recorded that 'His Highness' has bestowed 'khillat' or the robe of honour to such Hindu nobles who had their hair cuts. Dr. Nasim Akhtar of National Museum Delhi when asked to explain the reason for such honours by the Royal Court explains that such firmans here issued to promote sunnat i.e conversion. Dr. Akhtar believes that by cutting the body hair it was considered that he had undergone sunnat.
Guru Gobind Singh on the other hand was resisting the Royal edicts. One of his court poets Kavi Senpati writes in tenth Gur Sabha (1711 AD) about the Guru edict : (Thus orders Guru neither touch the hoof of cow to your face nor shave your head even in the event of 'ones parents' death) The idea of furnishing the above historical account is to make it abundantly clear that most of the Hindus kept their hair intact.
 Al Biruni says all Hindus do not cut their hair. It is also interesting to note that at the ancient sculptures have chiselled their ideal Hindu deities including incarnations of Vishnu (Lord Rama or Krishna) in full grown hair tied up in a knot called Jurha. We have not come across any such sculptures where a prominent deity is chiseled in shaved condition. interestingly again the sculptures have chiseled the deities in their young age i.e before puberty. No where is an incarnation depicting a deity in his advanced age or with the hair on the head as well as beards.
Guru Nanak was born in the Hindu society it is thus probable  that Nanak had his hair intact.  But hair becomes important if a Hindu happens to be religious. One couldn’t move among Sadhus unless he was like them. Guru Nanak who was otherwise opposed to ritualism however went around the world in a hermits garb before he settled at Kartarpur. Warran or the ballads of Bhai Gurdas is considered as the most authentic historical account of the Sikhs of sixteenth century. He writes: "Then comes Baba to kartarpur, removes the garb of a hermit. Attired himself in the dress all mundane and enlightened the world with his idea so simple and humane." It is however a fact that all the hindu sadhus kept their hair intact as also the muslim faqirs. While the Sanyasi sadhus treat the cutting of hair highly sinful. Sadhus of some sects even, rarely use comb with the result that their hair take the shape of mats (1att). Here again we cannot say with certainty that the Guru had intact hair as he went around in the garb of a sadhu as he himself was highly critical of the ritualistic garbs and his Bani or the poetry is witness to it.
More over there were certain classes of hermit like the Jain and Budhist monks who would have close shaves and interestingly these sadhus would pluck the hair publicly as a symbo! of penances. But interestingly again guru is highly critical and opposed to such plucking of hair and writes, ' "Deprived of both bath and alms, filth on the heads of these hair plucker Jain sadhus do not know, that is, he alone who creates and destroys and none else. (because these sadhus thought that they were the saviours of creatures)"
But in spite of the above account we cannot still say with certainty that the Guru was kesadhari However in his Gurbani at page 567 of Guru Granth Sahib, Nanak when personifies the Formless Nirankar or the God, the Guru says: 'He has sharp features and beautiful long hair.’ It here becomes probable that Guru must have tried to be like the God he worships.
Also there is yet another  interesting aspect the basic concept of Guru i.e is 'hukme ander sabh ko' i,e everything is happening within the will of God" and the whole Sikh philosophy revolves around this basic concept. Gurmat emphasizes on surrender to thw will of God. lt is also called 'bhana mannana i.e. to surrender before His will. Guru thus submitted to His will and accepted hair as gift of God. Guru accordingly treated the growth of hair within His will and is thus very critical of such people who defied it. Keeping of hair is thus linked to the basic philosophy of the faith. Keeping in view Nanak's own conviction we can safely conclude that he was a kesadhari.

ORIGIN OF CONTROVERSY
There has been a tradition of biography in prose called janam sakhis, Meaning of word Janam sakhi' is witness from birth and are purported to have been written by second Guru on ascendance to Guru's post on the narration from one Bala who claims in the sakhi that he was a companion of Guru during his long tours. interestingly Balas name does not appear in the contemporary records like Granth sahib and Warran of bhai Gurdas. Atso the contents of these Janam Sakhis which have several versions are highly defective and are in contradiction to the Gurbani.
Karam Singh a historian (Katak Nahi Visakh) proved that Bala's Janam sakhi is in fact a work of much later composition.
 Later in 1969 AD Dr. W.H Mcloed in Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion opined after a deep and detailed research that all the incidents linked to the name of Guru Nanak were more of the nature of tales and legends than the historical ones. ln fact the fifth Guru was alarmed at the creation writing of such compositions and therefore to prevent misunderstanding compiled a the book, the present Granth Sahib.
 Surprisingly many people, including a nephew of the Vth Guru were composing verses and ascribing them to Guru Nanak. According to various modern sources the oldest version of the Bala wali Janam Sakhi is the one lying with the family of Piare Lal Kapoor of Delhi which has been written in the year Bikrmi 1715 (1658). Karam Singh historian , after thorough researches concluded that this Janam Sakhi was written in 1650 AD.
ln one of the versions of this Janam Sakhi which was scribed in 1733 AD illustrations in the form of paintings are given which have been adopted in the later versions mostly as line sketches. The 1733 version of the B40 Janam Sakhi has 57 paintings. ln all the paintings Guru Nanak is shown as supporting a cap on his head. However in a painting when Guru is shown in his childhood being attended by a vaid, the Young Nanak is shown bareheaded having a knot (Jurha) of hair on the back side. ln rest of the pictures the overall impression one gets is that Nanak might have trimmed his hair and sported a cap. Also in all the sketches/ paintings Guru is shown with 'tilak' the Hindu fore head mark. ln his hand is shown invariably a rosary and thread around his neck which goes down to waist.
Nanak is also shown having discourses with Sidh Yogis like Gorakh, Machhandar, Bhangar Nath etc. some of whom lived more than 500 years before the birth of Nanak. These yogis have also been sketched as baldies and cleanshaven. Otherwise also it has been authoritatively proven than more that 314 contents are not historically believable. The hair aspect thus also takes us to the suspicion of the authenticity of the Janam Sakhi especially when it was sketched after the death of Guru Gobind Singh (1708 AD) when many masands were opposing the Guru's ideology. Also the wearing of thread like ' janeu' and ' tilak' stand contradicted from the bani of Guru Nanak. Especially when the Guru is even opposed to having rosary (mala). The Janam Sakhi itself at a point advocates that the Guru refused to wear janeu. Since the bani of Nanak indicates that he was for intact hair, we have no hesitation to concludes that the Janam Sakhi sketches are misfounded and may perhaps be motivated as Karam Singh Historian believes in the contents of the Sakhi. ' lnterestingly in one version ol Janam Sakhithe same Guru Nanak in discourses with pir Bahauddin is quoted where he strongly defends the proper up keep of hair.
GURU’S SUCCESSORS
 Now the question arises were the successors of Nanak also kesadhari ? On this account we feel that instead of looking for evidences elsewhere we should rely on what the successor of Gurus says himself, about this issue.  Fortunately the bani of 2nd to 5th and 9th is available. On many places the Gurus in their verses write that if their God appears before him he (Guru) would cleanse the feet of the God with his hair or on other places they write if their Waheguru happens to appear before them they would make morsels of their head hair to fan around Him. (Kesa Ka Kar chawar dulawan) ln fact the whole Guru Granth sahib is replete with verses which go in favor of the fact that all the Gurus were kasdhari. The following page numbers have references to hair:381,408, 50q 561, 633, 659, 745, 749, 810, 821, 970; 907,952,m 1084, 1104, 1106, 1217. 1224,1335, 1365, 1366, 1369, 1379. 1380, & 1406. It is thus unfortunate to suggest that the Gurus were clean shaven and such statements more often than not are motivated. Not only Gurus even the medieval bhagats like Ravidas, Farid, Namdev, Kabir etc. were aI Kesdhari and it will be falsehood and thus sinful to portray them as clean-shaven.
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