19th September, 2014. Gurgaon
I always have questions regarding my shikha and the dos and don’ts that go with it.
I read earlier that the shikha signifies one-pointed focus on a spiritual goal and devotion to God. It is also an indication of cleanliness, as well as personal sacrifice to God. I recently found some interesting information on iskcondesiretree on shikha which I am copying here for the pleasure of devotees.
What is the significance of keeping a shikha ?
Shikha is a tuft of hair at the back of head specifically kept by Vaishnavas and Brahmanas.
It is an established rule that anyone who recites vedic mantras should not have hair on face and head. So, those who need to perform vedic rituals are advised to remove hairs.
However, there are many reasons for having Shikha:
1. When Devotee leaves body Krishna pulls the soul from the top most Chakra which is on the head under the shikha.
2. It is said that according to the karma of a soul the living entity at the time of death leaves body from different places from mouth, nose, etc… But a devotee who leaves this body from that “chakra” (Shikha) attains high planets of Spiritual world.
3. Also hair is needed to protect that chakra. But women do not cut their hair, because their other lower chakras are not good protected but if they have long hair they protect them with hair.
4. The Vaishnavas following a descending spiritual path that is they depend on the mercy of the Supreme Lord at every step to pull them out of Maya. So when we are drowning in Maya and only our head is out of the water, Guru and Gauranga can still pull us out comfortably by holding our head by this tuft of head called the shikha. So the shikha shows the subordination and dependence of the devotee on the causeless mercy of Lord Gauranga-Krishna at all times.
5. The Mayavadis follow the ascending path since they egotistically confident of achieve God and coming out of illusion by the dint of their insignificant efforts or sadhan. So they do not keep a shikha because they do not need the mercy of the Lord.
6) Shikha is also like a spiritual antenna on the top of the head meant to show to the Lord and that we are aspiring recepients of His causeless mercy.
7) One must have a sikha to perform any kind of yajna. Therefore in Indian tradition all the brahmanas, Vaisnava or otherwise, keep a sikha. Although there seem to be no sastric injunctions regarding the size of the sikha, Gaudiya Vaisnavas traditionally keep the sikha about the size of a calf’s hoofprint, approximately 1.5 inches in diameter.
8) Srila Prabhupada mentioned this in a conversation with some of his disciples in Hawaii (6.5.1972):
“ GaudiyaVaisnavasikha is an inch and a half across — no bigger. Bigger sikha means another sampradaya…. And they have to be knotted”
9) Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta says:
The sikha may be any length, but it should be kept tightly knotted and only untied when you are washing, The Hari-bhakti-vilasa observes that members of the upper classes even tie the sikha before taking the final ablutions of a bath. This particularly applies when bathing in a body of water such as a river or a lake, in which case to not tie the sikha prior to bathing is considered low class and disrespectful to the sacred rite of bathing.
You may tie it in a simple manner for bathing, retying it more carefully after the bath.* cleaning, or oiling it. Also, when going to sleep, attending funeral rites, or observing a period of mourning, you should keep the sikha untied. Since an untied sikha is a sign of a death in the family, it is inauspicious to go about one’s daily duties with an untied sikha. It is also said that if one keeps the sikha untied, the body may become weak.
While tying your sikha after bathing, chant the Hare Krsna mantra, or, if initiated with Gayatri mantras, silently chant the Brahma-gayatri (first line of Gayatri). The sikha should not be braided (traditionally only women braid their hair), nor should it be kept long and disheveled. Naturally, if the sikha is too short to be tied, it is all right to leave it open, but it should not be disheveled.
10) Significance of Shaving head – It is a symbol of renunciation. If you see materialists, they are extremely fond of hair. Decorating hair etc pulls us into bodily consciousness. This is not good for practicing spiritualists. So as an indication of renunciation from material consciousness devotees shave head.
11) Significance of shikha – Another view: It is a symbol of duality of souls and supreme Lord. Impersonalists believe that there is no duality between the supreme and the living entity and they are expected to shave their heads completely. Vaishnavites believe in the philosophy that there is clear and eternal distinction between supreme god Krishna and living entities. The shikha is symbol of Krishna which is large and the remaining very little hair is the symbol of insignificant and innumerable conditioned living entity
12) Scientific reasons for having shikha:
(A) A person who keeps shikha attracts cosmic energy which imparts enlightment.
(B) The small portion of hair that hangs from behind our head applies little pressure on our brains that helps one to improve concentration and mind control and improve memory.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.