What is Shikha?
Hinduism is a religious practice that originated centuries back. Hinduism focuses on the Vedas and Vedic texts. As per the Vedic rules, a person who offers prayers or recites Vedic mantras must not have hair on his face or head. It is essential to remove them before taking part in Vedic rituals. The hair that remains on the head after shaving is commonly known as Shika or Choti. One has to tie their hair after it starts to grow. Leaving the hair untied is inauspicious as per the Hindu belief system. In this article, we will look into the origin, meaning, and significance of Brahmin's tying their hair into a knot or a braid.
As per Smriti Shastra, all Hindus need to have a Shikha. It is a way that helps in transcending our soul to heaven. However, in the present century, only Brahmins and priests have them. Among Brahmins, they shave the head of a young boy before his Upanayana ceremony. It is known as Chuda Karma. Only a small portion of hair in the crown of their head remains. When it starts to grow, the person has to tie it into a knot or braid it. Brahmins can only untie their hair during certain circumstances. They include:
1. The death of someone and while he is attending the funeral
2. During Death anniversaries
3. While Bathing (not preferred in lakes and rivers)
4. While sleeping
Apart from these conditions, a Brahmin has to keep his hair tied. One of the stories related to the untying of hair in Hinduism is that of Chanakya. Chanakya decided to leave his hair untied until he overcame the insult he received from the Nanda kings. Shikha also means flame and powerful. It is also a representation of the connection a Brahmin can establish with the divine entity by properly tying his hair.
Significance of Brahmins tying their hair into a braid or knot: Tying hair as a knot or braid shows devotion, cleanliness, spiritual goal, and personal sacrifice. There is a plethora of religious, spiritual, and scientific significance of having a Shikha or Choti on a Brahmin's head. Here are some of the importance of having a Shikha for a Brahmin:
1. Our body has seven Chakras. It begins from the Mooladhara at the base of our spine to the Sahasrara in our crown. These Chakras play a crucial role in energy flow. Kundalini, coiled like a serpent, is the life force. When our Chakras are in a balanced state, it helps in the proper flow of the vitalities. Brahmins maintain the Shikha on the crown, which is the seat of the Sahasrara. The hair on their Sahasrara helps in balancing their Chakras. It also aids in their spiritual awakening.
2. As per the Hindu belief system, people believe that the soul leaves their body through the topmost Chakra or the Sahasrara. Shikha, which is on Sahasrara, helps in the movement of the soul from the body.
3. A Shikha shows a person's connection with the divine entities. It also improves in ascending beyond the earthly realm. Shikha is also a sign of Lord Krishna.
4. Shaving one's head is a symbol of personal sacrifice. When a person removes his hair, he can move away from the materialistic realm. He can then focus on life in a non-materialistic dimension. It is a way of forming a connection with the Ultimate Consciousness or the Brahman.
5. While tying the Shikha, a person can chant either Hare Krisha mantra or Gayathri Mantra. It is also a way of enhancing the connection with the divine entities. It shows that the process is auspicious and pure.
6. When a person ties his hair into a Shikha or a knot for the first time, it is Gayatri Sadhana. It is a second birth or Dwijatva for the person. The tying of the hair and wearing the Sacred Thread or Upanayana is a process that is equal to being born twice.
7. Shikha or hair tied as a knot in the crown helps in attracting cosmic energy as per some belief systems in India.
8. When we tie the hair tightly into a Shikha, we are applying pressure to our brain. It helps a person in different ways. It provides him mental control, improves his concentration and memory as well.
9. The point where the Shikha is present plays a crucial role in yoga and spirituality. It helps in improving our contact with the brain center. Through this connection, it aids in enhancing the intellectual and emotional abilities of that person. It is also helpful in improving focus and concentration while meditating.
10. The Shikha (hair tied into a knot or braid in the crown) assists in the harmonious flow of blood through our body.
These are some of the significances- both religious and scientific - associated with Brahmin's tying their hair into a knot or braid. For centuries, Shikha or Choti has been playing a crucial role in Hindu traditions and beliefs. It is a way of showing one's adherence to divine notions. It also helps in moving beyond the material world.
Namaste Ekatman, you can grow the shikha at the lowest point near the neck as well. It is an accepted norm.
How low can I start to grow shikha? I am balding and cannot start to grow shikha at crown. Is it therefore inappropriate to grow it?