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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Spiritual Questions & Answers > Pre-2007 QnA Swami Gaurangapada > significance of wearing sikha

Title: significance of wearing sikha

User: Nava Gauranga dasaDate: 2006-05-21 07:11:57


Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna!


Dear Swami Gaurangapada, please accept my humble obiesances.


Could you please explain the significance of wearing a sikha and it's meaning in relation to Guru and GaurangaKrishna. And also the meaning of tying a knot in the sikha? Thank you.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† yours, Nava Gauranga dasa.


Title: Re: significance of wearing sikha

User: Swami Gaurangapada Date: 2006-05-21 11:27:19


Shikha is a tuft of hair at the back of head specifically kept by Vaishnavasand brahmanas. It shows the following two things:


(1) The Vaishnavas following a descending spiritual path that is they dependon the mercy of the Supreme Lord at every step to pull them out of Maya. So whenwe are drowning in Maya and only our head is out of the water, Guru and Gaurangacan still pull us out comfortably by holding our head by this tuft of headcalled the shikha. So the shikha shows the subordination and dependence of thedevotee on the causelessmercy of Lord Gauranga-Krishna at all times. TheMayavadis follow the ascending path since they egotistically confident ofachieve God and coming out of illusion by the dint of their insignificantefforts or sadhan. So they do not keep a shikha because they do not need themercy of the Lord.


(2) Shikha is also like a spiritual antenna on the top of head meant to showto the Lord and that we are aspiring recepients of His causeless mercy.


Tuft of Hair (sikha)

from Pancharatra Pradipa


According to the Vedic culture, when a person undergoes the

cuda-karana-samskara (hair-cutting ceremony) and upanayana(Vedic

initiation), he must shave his head, leaving a tuft of hair called asikha

. One must have a sikha to perform any kind of yajna. Therefore inIndian

tradition all the brahmanas, Vaishnava or otherwise, keep a sikha.

Although there seem to be no sastric injunctions regarding the size of the

sikha, Gaudiya Vaishnavas traditionally keep the sikha about the size ofa

calf's hoofprint, approximately 1.5 inches (5 - 6 cm.) in diameter.Shrila

Prabhupada mentioned this in a conversation with some of his disciplesin

Hawaii: "Gaudiya Vaishnava sikha is an inch and a half across -- nobigger.

Bigger sikha means another sampradaya.... And they have to beknotted."

(May 6, 1972, Hawaii; Shrila Prabhupada Lilamrta V, page 93)

The sikha may be any length, but it should be kept tightly knotted andonly

untied when you are washing,The Hari-bhakti-vilasa observes thatmembers

of the upper classes even tie the sikha before taking the finalablutions

of a bath. This particularly applies when bathing in a body ofwater such

as a river or a lake, in which case to not tie the sikha prior tobathing

is considered low class and disrespectful to the sacred rite ofbathing.

You may tie it in a simple manner for bathing, retying it morecarefully

after the bath.* cleaning, or oiling it. Also, when going to sleep,

attending funeral rites, or observing a period of mourning, youshould

keep the sikha untied. Since an untied sikha is a sign of a death inthe

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 bodymay

become weak.

While tying your sikha after bathing, chant the Hare Krishna mantra, or,if

initiated with Gayatri mantras, silently chant the Brahma-gayatri(first

line of Gayatri). The sikha should not be braided (traditionallyonly

women braid their hair), nor should it be kept long anddisheveled.

Naturally, if the sikha is too short to be tied, it is all rightto leave

it open, but it should not be disheveled.*



Shrila Prabhupada's letters



...but every one of my disciples must have the flag & marks of tilak onforehead. This is essential.

Letter to: Damodara -- Calcutta 13 October,1967 all circumstances a devotee cannot avoid tilak, flag on head, &beads

on neck. These are essential features of a Vaishnava.

Letter to:Brahmananda -- Calcutta 14 October, 1967

I never objected to any of my students dressing like niceAmerican

gentleman, clean shaved; those who are my disciples must have flag,tilak &

beads on neck without fail.

Letter to: Kirtanananda --Calcutta 16 October, 1967

Householders may wear dhotis in the Temple, or as they like, but not ofthe

saffron color. They may wear white, yellow, or whatever. Outside theTemple

they may wear American gentleman's dress, with Tilaka, flag, andbeads.

Letter to: Balai -- San Francisco 12 March, 1968

The Vaishnavas, with tilaka, with kunti, with chanting beads, as soon asyou

see... And practically you know. As soon as they see these HareKrishna

movement people, they also chant, "Hare Krishna," giving a chance tothe

others. The dress is also required. You should be always equippedwith

tilaka, kunti, and sikha, sutra. Then, as soon as a common man sees,"Oh,

here is a Hare Krishna man. Hare Krishna," he'll chant. Automatically yougive a

chance to chant Hare Krishna.

So this is required. The foolishrascals, they say that "What is the

necessity of this, that?" No. This isnecessity. You must always remain

dressed like a Vaishnava. That isnecessity.

Shrimad-Bhagavatam 3.28.19 -- Nairobi, October 29, 1975

Vaishnava must have dvadasa-tilaka, sikha, sutra, kunti, and there aremany

things, description.

Shri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila 8.128 --Bhubanesvara, January 24, 1977

...we must have always our tilak and sikha and there is no compromisefor

this purpose.

Letter to: Brahmananda -- Seattle 6 October, 1968

...our real dress is the tilaka and sikha.

Letter to: Raktak -- London, 25September, 1969

...we should always keep sikha and teelock.

Letter to: Jagadisa --Bhaktivedanta Manor 23 July, 1973

Regarding what is a Vaishnava, Vaishnava means that when others see him,they

will also chant Hare Krishna. So why not give them the chance of seeingby

wearing the beads, tilaka, and sikha?

Letter to: Sudama -- Bombay 10December, 1973

According to sastra anyone who wears tilaka and sikha and kunti overand

above the Vaishnava dress or Vaishnava sannyasi must be acceptedespecially

while chanting Hare Krishna mantra with bead bags. Kindly convincethem and

induce them to allow these Vaishnavas to enter JagannathaTemple.

Letter to: Syamasundara -- Bombay 8 April, 1974