Guru Granth Sahib on hair

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For a baptised or Amritdhari Sikh, it is mandatory to keep the hair or kesh uncut honouring and accepting the perfection of God's creation. This command was issued by the tenth master, Guru Gobind Singh at Vaisakhi 1699. A comb called a Kanga is also carried to keep the hair tidy, a symbol of not just accepting what God has given, but also an injunction to maintain it with grace.

There are various Shabads in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib which favour the keeping of hair.

God is Kesva

God is referred to as "Kesva" ( ਕੇਸਵ ) - "having long hair"

1. In this Shabad, God is referred to as having hair which is "Wondrous and Beautiful":

ਨਿਰਹਾਰੀ ਕੇਸਵ ਨਿਰਵੈਰਾ ॥
Nirhārī kėsav nirvairā.
He does not need to eat; His Hair is Wondrous and Beautiful; He is free of hate.

2. In this Shabad, God is referred to as "the beautifully-haired Lord":

ਸਗਲ ਪਦਾਰਥ ਅਸਟ ਸਿਧਿ ਨਾਮ ਮਹਾ ਰਸ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਸੁਪ੍ਰਸੰਨ ਭਏ ਕੇਸਵਾ ਸੇ ਜਨ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਹਿ ॥੪॥
Sagal paḏārath asat siḏẖ nām mahā ras māhi. Suparsan bẖa­ė kėsvā sė jan har guṇ gāhi.(4)
All wealth, and the eight miraculous spiritual powers are in the supremely sublime essence of the Naam, the Name of the Lord.

Those humble beings, with whom the beautifully-haired Lord is thoroughly pleased, sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord.(4)

3. In this Shabad, God is referred to as having "long hair"

ਤੇਰੇ ਬੰਕੇ ਲੋਇਣ ਦੰਤ ਰੀਸਾਲਾ ॥ ਸੋਹਣੇ ਨਕ ਜਿਨ ਲੰਮੜੇ ਵਾਲਾ ॥
Ŧėrė bankė lo­iṇ ḏanṯ rīsālā. Sohṇė nak jin lammṛė vālā.
Your eyes are so beautiful, and Your teeth are delightful.

Your nose is so graceful, and Your hair is so long.


With my Hair, I wash, fan, dust...

There are many Shabads in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib which refer to the Guru "Fanning", "washing" or "dusting" the feet of Saints, the "servants" of the Lord. To do these activities, one needs long hair as one cannot fan someone's feet with short trimmed hair (unless you use your head as a brush!)


1. Using the hair to wipe the feet of the Lord's slaves:

ਟਹਲ ਕਰਉ ਤੇਰੇ ਦਾਸ ਕੀ ਪਗ ਝਾਰਉ ਬਾਲ ॥ ਮਸਤਕੁ ਅਪਨਾ ਭੇਟ ਦੇਉ ਗੁਨ ਸੁਨਉ ਰਸਾਲ ॥੧॥
Tahal kara­o ṯėrė ḏās kī pag jẖāra­o bāl. Masṯak apnā bẖėt ḏė­o gun sun­o rasāl.(1)
I perform service for Your slave, O Lord, and wipe his feet with my hair.

I offer my head to him, and listen to the Glorious Praises of the Lord, the source of bliss.(1)


2. Using the hair to make a fan and wave over the Saint:

ਕੇਸਾ ਕਾ ਕਰਿ ਬੀਜਨਾ ਸੰਤ ਚਉਰੁ ਢੁਲਾਵਉ ॥ ਸੀਸੁ ਨਿਹਾਰਉ ਚਰਣ ਤਲਿ ਧੂਰਿ ਮੁਖਿ ਲਾਵਉ ॥੧॥
Kėsā kā kar bījnā sanṯ cẖa­ur dẖulāva­o. Sīs nihāra­o cẖaraṇ ṯal ḏẖūr mukẖ lāva­o.(1)
I make my hair into a fan, and wave it over the Saint.

I bow my head low, to touch his feet, and apply his dust to my face.(1)


3. Using the hair to dust the feet of the Guru's feet:

ਮੇਰਾ ਮਨੁ ਸਾਧੂ ਧੂਰਿ ਰਵਾਲ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਓ ਗੁਰਿ ਮੀਠਾ ਗੁਰ ਪਗ ਝਾਰਹ ਹਮ ਬਾਲ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Mėrā man sāḏẖū ḏẖūr ravāl. Har har nām ḏariṛ­ā­i­o gur mīṯẖā gur pag jẖārah ham bāl. (1)rahā­o.
My mind is the dust of the feet of the Holy.

The Guru has implanted the Sweet Name of the Lord, Har, Har, within me. I dust the Guru's Feet with my hair.(1)(Pause)

Other Shabads

1. Here, on page 923, the Guru asks us to "Call in the long-haired scholarly Saints of the Lord" to read the holy sermon of the Lord.

ਕੇਸੋ ਗੋਪਾਲ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਸਦਿਅਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਕਥਾ ਪੜਹਿ ਪੁਰਾਣੁ ਜੀਉ ॥
Kėso gopāl pandiṯ saḏi­ahu har har kathā paṛeh purāṇ jī­o.
Call in the long-haired scholarly Saints of the Lord, to read the sermon of the Lord, Har, Har.

2. In this shabad, the Guru tells us on page 941 that the Gurmukh (Guru oriented person) "meditates on the Lord with every hair" on his or her body.

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਵਿਤ੍ਰੁ ਪਰਮ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਵੈ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਰੋਮਿ ਰੋਮਿ ਹਰਿ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਾਚਿ ਸਮਾਵੈ ॥੨੭॥
Gurmukẖ paviṯar param paḏ pāvai. Gurmukẖ rom rom har ḏẖi­āvai. Nānak gurmukẖ sācẖ samāvai.(27)
The Gurmukh attains the supreme, sanctified status.

The Gurmukh meditates on the Lord with every hair of his body.
O Nanak, the Gurmukh merges in Truth.(27)


3. In this verse found on page 966 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Guru tells us that God is found in "all places, the forests and the meadows, the three worlds, and every hair"


ਅੰਦਰੁ ਵਿਧਾ ਸਚਿ ਨਾਇ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੀ ਸਚੁ ਡਿਠੋਮਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਵਿਆ ਹਭ ਥਾਇ ਵਣਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਣਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਭਵਣਿ ਰੋਮਿ ॥੨॥
Anḏar viḏẖā sacẖ nā­ė bāhar bẖī sacẖ diṯẖom. Nānak ravi­ā habẖ thā­ė vaṇ ṯariṇ ṯaribẖavaṇ rom. (2)
The True Name has pierced the nucleus of my self deep within. Outside, I see the True Lord as well.

O Nanak, He is pervading and permeating all places, the forests and the meadows, the three worlds, and every hair. (2)


See also