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Top Ten Reasons to Keep Your Kes

Ten Reasons Not to Cut Your Hair

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Sikh man looking at the Golden Temple.
Glen Allison
Keeping kes intact is a key concept in Sikhism. A Sikh who maintains kes, keeping all hair on the head and body intact is known as a kesdhari. Sikhism teaches that keeping kes is a crucial component in subduing the effect of ego to achieve grace and enlightenment through humility.

The path of the Sikh is distinct. Even so, not everyone understands that hair is essential to Sikhism or the reasons why. Here are ten top reasons for keeping your kes intact and why it is vital not to cut your hair if you are a Sikh:

  1. Keeping kes intact honors the creator's intention. Hair is a birthright inherent in the creator's design. Each hair grows to a specified length as per individual genetic disposition before falling out and developing a new hair in it's place.
  2. Keeping kes honors Guru Gobind Singh's command. Sikh Reht Maryada (SRM), the Sikhism code of conduct stipulates five criteria which must be met in order to be considered a Sikh, one of which is belief in baptism as outlined by Tenth Guru Gobind Singh, who ordered Sikhs to honor and keep hair intact, and wrote that Khalsa is his own image in the hymn Khalsa Mahima.
  3. Keeping kes honors the Sikh code of conduct. SRM stipulates that hair is to be kept intact from birth onward and that code of conduct is to be followed through out life until death.
  4. Keeping kes identifies one as a Sikh. Hair is a visible identity which distinguishes the Sikh and Sikhism as distinct from all other religions and walks of life. Keeping hair intact encourages and gives support to fellow Sikhs.
  5. Keeping kes insures Sikh rights. The US Army granted exemptions to Sikh recruits who followed the Sikh mandate to keep hair intact. An Indian court upheld a decision which denied a Sikh scholarship to a girl who removed hair she plucked her eyebrows, on the basis that the SRM instructs a Sikh to keep every hair intact.
  6. Keeping kes vanquishes vanity. Keeping hair intact is a constant reminder to make conscious choices when facing the challenges of confronting ego.
  7. Keeping kes builds self esteem. Keeping hair intact allows one to experience courage, conquer fear, and realize unconditional love.
  8. Keeping kes honors truth. Hair like truth continually asserts itself despite what ever measure are taken to deny it. Whether plucked, shaved, or curled, or colored hair, the hereditary disposition and condition of hair cannot be changed or concealed, for hair always returns to it's original genetic growth pattern.
  9. Keeping kes is beneficial for the physiological system. Hair has protective properties. Each hair on the head and body fulfills a specific scientific purpose.
  10. Keeping kes benefits body and soul. Hair is prayer. Kes acts as a subtle spiritual antenna. One who keeps kes intact, practices meditation and achieves humility comes to know the benefit of kes which can never be realize if hair is severed. It is written in Guru Granth Sahib Sikhism's holy scripture:
    • "Rom rom meh baseh muraar ||
      Within each and every hair, the divine enemy of pride abides." Bhagat Kabir|| SGGS||344
    • "Romae rom rom romae mai gurmukh raam dhiaa-ae raam ||
      With each hair and every hair, the enlightened being meditates on the divine Lord." Guru Raam Das|| SGGS||443

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