Jump to content

Orthodox Christianity & Uncut Hair.


Recommended Posts

I read this on Tapoban and found it interesting. I know they don't cut their beards, but wasn't aware they didn't cut hair as well.

I met an Orthodox priest recently and we discussed this issue. The following is an article from one of their journals.

Reprinted from Orthodox Life - Vol. 46, No. 5 - October 1996




-- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The question of the appropriateness of long hair and beards is frequently put to traditional Orthodox clergy. A comprehensive article appeared in Orthodox Life concerning clergy dress in the J./F. 1991 issue. At this time we would like to address the topic of clergy appearance, i.e. hair and beards.

Anyone looking at photographs and portraits of clergy in Greece, Russia, Rumania, and other Orthodox countries taken in the early twentieth century will notice that almost without exception both the monastic and married clergy, priests and deacons, wore untrimmed beards and hair. Only after the First World War do we observe a new, modern look, cropped hair and beardless clergy. This fashion has been continued among some of the clergy to our own day. If one were to investigate this phenomenon in terms of a single clergyman whose life spanned the greater part of our century one would probably notice his style modernize from the first photographs up through the last.

There are two reasons given as an explanation for this change: it is said, "One must conform with fashion, we cannot look like peasants!" Or even more absurd, "My wife will not allow it!". Such reasoning is the "dogmatic" line of modernists who either desire to imitate contemporary fashion (if beards are "in," they wear beards, if beards are "out," they shave), or are ecumenically minded, not wanting to offend clergy in denominations outside the Orthodox Church. The other reason is based on a passage of Holy Scripture where Saint Paul states, Both not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? (I Cor. 11:14) In answer to the first justification, Orthodox tradition directly condemns Modernism and Ecumenism. It is necessary however to deal in more detail with the argument that bases its premise on Holy Scripture.

Orthodox Christian piety begins in the Holy Tradition of the Old Testament. Our relationship to the Lord God, holiness, worship, and morality was formed in the ancient times of the Bible. At the time of the foundation of the priesthood the Lord gave the following commandments to the priests during periods of mourning, And ye shall not shave your head for the dead [a pagan practice] with a baldness on the top; and they shall not shave their beard... (Lev. 21: 5), and to all men in general, Ye shall not make a round cutting of the hair of your head, nor disfigure your beard (Lev. 19:27). The significance of these commandments is to illustrate that the clergy are to devote themselves completely to serving the Lord. Laymen as well are called to a similar service though without the priestly functions. This out ward appearance as a commandment was repeated in the law given to the Nazarene, a razor shall not come upon his head, until the days be fulfilled which he vowed to the Lord: he shall be holy, cherishing the long hair of the head all the days of his vow to the Lord... (Numbers 6:5-6).

The significance of the Nazarene vow was a sign of God's power resting on the person who made it. To cut off the hair meant to cut off God's power as in the example of Samson (see Judges 16:17-19). The strength of these pious observances, transmitted to the New Testament Church, were observed without question till our present times of willfulness and the apostasy resulting from it. Why, one might ask, do those Orthodox clergymen, while rejecting the above pious ordinances about hair, continue to observe the custom of granting various head coverings to clergy, a practice which also has its roots in the ancient ordinances of the Old Testament (cf. Ex. 24:4-6) and the tradition of the early Church (see Fusebius and Epiphanius of Cyprus concerning the miters worn by the Apostles John and James)?

The Apostle Paul himself wore his hair long as we can conclude from the following passage where it is mentioned that "head bands," in Slavonic, and "towels" touched to his body were placed on the sick to heal them. The "head bands" indicate the length of his hair (in accor dance with pious custom) which had to be tied back in order to keep it in place (cf. Acts 19:12). The historian Egezit writes that the Apostle James, the head of the church in Jerusalem, never cut his hair (Christian Reading, Feb. 1898, p.142, [in Russian]).

If the pious practice among clergy and laity in the Christian community was to follow the example of the Old Testament, how then are we to understand the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians cited earlier (I Cor. 11:14)? Saint Paul in the cited passage is addressing men and woman who are praying (cf. I Cor. 11:3-4). His words in the above passages, as well as in other passages concerning head coverings (cf. I Cor. 11: 4-7), are directed to laymen, not clergy. In other passages Saint Paul makes an obvious distinction between the clerical and lay rank (cf. I Cor. 4:1, I Tim. 4:6, Col. 1:7, and others). He did not oppose the Old Testament ordinance in regard to hair and beards since, as we have noted above, he himself observed it, as did Our Lord Himself, Who is depicted on all occasions with long hair and beard as the Great High Priest of the new Christian priest hood.

In our passage noted previously, Both not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? (I Cor. 11:14) Saint Paul uses the Greek word for "hair." This particular word for hair designates hair as an a ornament (the notion of length being only secondary and suggested), differing from the anatomical or physical term for hair.1 Saint Paul's selection of words emphasizes his criticism of laymen wearing their hair in a stylized fashion, which was contrary to pious Jewish and Christian love of modesty. We note the same approach to hair as that of Saint Paul in the 96th canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council where it states: "Those therefore who adorn and arrange their hair to the detri ment of those who see them, that is by cunningly devised intertwinings, and by this means put a bait in the way of unstable souls 3

In another source, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, we read the follow ing concerning the Old Testament practice: "To an extent, hair style was a matter of fashion, at least among the upper classes, who were particularly open to foreign [pagan] influence. Nevertheless, long hair appears to have been the rule among the Hebrews (cf. Ezek. 8:3), both men and women"2 (cf. Cant 4:1; 7:5). Thus we observe that cropped or stylized hair was the fashion among the pagans and not acceptable, especially among the Christian clergy from most ancient times up to our contemporary break with Holy Tradition. It is interesting to note that the fashion of cropped or stylized hair and shaved beards found its way into the Roman Catholic and Protestant worlds. So important had this pagan custom be come for Roman clergy by the 11th Century that it was listed among the reasons for the Anathema pronounced by Cardinal Humbert on July 15, 1054 against Patriarch Michael in Constantinople which precipitated the Western Church's final falling away from the Orthodox Church: "While wearing beards and long hair you [Eastern Orthodox] reject the bond of brotherhood with the Roman clergy, since they shave and cut their hair." [!]~

Igumen Luke


1) Joseph Thayer D. D., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 354.

2) A. C. Myers ed., The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, p.455

3) The Rudder, tranS. D. Cummings, p.403.

4) N. N. Voekov, The Church, Russia, and Rome, (in Russian), p. 98.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 75
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Thanks Matheen for the information.

I would like to add the following information regarding the importance of Turban in Christianty as follows:

Once they enter the gates of the court, they are to wear linen vestments, They shall wear linen turban, and linen drawers on their loins." (Old Testament: Ezekiel 44:18-19)

Put on the turban as the Lord has commanded Moses: One of the commands of God to Moses was to wear turban as the symbol of prophet hood, holiness and divine power. This was a command obeyed by the Jews and the Muslims for centuries and ignored or forgotten by the Christians.

"They made the tunic of fine lines, woven work for Aaron and his sons, the turban of fine linen, the tall head dress and their bands all of fine linen, the drawers of finely woven linen, the sash of woven linen, as the Lord had commanded Moses." (Exodus 39,27)

They made a rosette of pure gold as the symbol of their holy dedication and inscribed on it as the engraving on a seal, "Holy to the Lord"; and they fastened it on a violet brand to fix it on the turban at the top as the Lord had commanded Moses. (Exodus 39-31)

Set the turban on his head and the symbol of holy dedication on the turban. Take the anointing oil, pour it on his head and anoint him. (Exodus 29-6)

"When God takes away the turban," says Prophet Isaiah, "he takes away the dignity of man."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The tradition of the drawers and sash goes back to Prophet Abraham (as) and is part of the initiation ceremony of the knights.

Well that puts water on the Neo-Sikhs viewpoint that kachera was invented by the Gurus then!

there is also a story I heard from some Nirmala sant about Hanuman and Rama; and Hanuman last request that he be given Rama's kachera.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The kamarkassa may (or, indeed, may NOT) have been adopted by a 17th century Indian warlord for himself and his followers, but it's wrong to revise history through the lens of his beliefs.

The kamarband is and was a fundamental of Zoroastrianism and was also a basic item of clothing (a belt worn outside the clothes) in Islamic Iran. The Sikh tradition, after adopting this item very recently, is no authority on the origins of this item of clothing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You people are pathetic. Im sure warriors wore belts to secure their weapons long before Islam. No one concerns themselves with authentic origins other than the Shias who comes on this board. Your obsessiveness to claim a monopoly on everything shows nothing but your own insecurity. Religion is more than who had what first, that attitude is more suitable towards tribal fanatics than spiritual seekers.

Calling Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji a warlord is a a deliberate misrepresentation or an act of sheer ignorance. If your reasoning behind the use of such terms is to be followed and applied then it one can also legitimately state that Mohammed was a paedophile based on his marriage to a young girl.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"well that's if Hanuman & co ever existed which is of course another issue."

Irrelevant. What matters is that the Ramayana has been passed down in 'written' form for at least 2,000 years, before that it was passed down in oral form. So the tradition is an ancient Indian one 'too'.

If you want to learn more about Indian martial traditions, then do some research and you will find there are many ancient granths still surviving in South India which span over 1,500 years. The Kataari is a traditional Karnatic shastar, where do you think it was kept, in the Soorbirs rucksack!

Rishsafide - I don't like you implying that the 10th form of Nirankar Guru Nanak was a Warlord. The description is actually incorrect outside of it being seriously offensive (to me at least).

Dasam Pita never started wars for control of territory - this is a common objective real historic warlords have worked towards. A warlord is also someone who has more power than his standing admits - this does not apply either.

Watch your mouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rishsafide Baba is banned from this forum, for calling guru maharaj sargun vahiguroo avtar sri guru gobind singh ji as warlord. This rishsafide character have some serious dubious intentions, if members on this forum just not click but highlight on this member email, on the bottom left panel on the internet explorer, he is using fake email - as fake@fake.com.

My gut feeling says this member might be freind of morghe shahar, or might be morghe shahar himself but this is forum my personal feeling or gut feeling cannot count, we are unable to match the ip address of this person within our data base. But anyway, thats besides the point he is banned simply for insulting our guru sahiban which is consider highly blasphemous for upasakh of dasaie patsah satguru saroop and sikh dharam

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shaheediyan, I studied Valmiki's Ramayana in the original Sanskrit and sorry to dissapoint you all, but Hanuman never wore what you people call kacchera for the very simple reason that these didn't exist in India. If ever there was a prince Rama of Ayodhya who fought against southern tribes it happened before the Persian Achemenids included some parts of Western India into their empire. The ceremonial wearing of kamarband and zirjameh for a chivalry intitation is originally a Persian tradition that was completely unknown in India. Even trousers were only known in India during the invasion of the Kushans which is well after the Ramayana was ever composed.

And no Shaheediyan: I don't brainwash people. People make their own choices in life. And no N3O I am not rishsafide baba so you can keep your accusation to yourself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bahadur, we go by what Gurbani says above all else. Furthurmore, I can understand that Dhoti was the dress that most people wore, but how can Hanuman Jee wear a Dhoti with his Poonch sticking out? A Kashara can be the only logical thing for him to wear with a little hole in the back for the poonch to come out from.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mithar wrote:

"Bahadur, we go by what Gurbani says above all else. Furthurmore, I can understand that Dhoti was the dress that most people wore, but how can Hanuman Jee wear a Dhoti with his Poonch sticking out? A Kashara can be the only logical thing for him to wear with a little hole in the back for the poonch to come out from."

And I go by the facts.Hanuman's people were the Vanaras, a tribe who had the monkey as a totemic symbol NOT actual men with monkey faces or humanoid apes. India in antiquity was inhabited with forest tribes that had animals as totemic symbols.You guys should maybe stop watching these mythological Zee TV series. So there is no question here of tails sticking out. And neither the kachhera nor trousers existed in India at that time as they were Persian clothes.Wrestlers in India wore a langoti not a kachhera There are different types of dhoti and you just need to take a look at South Indian kalaripayat fighters to see that a dhoti doesn't prevent them from fighting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Brainwashing (also known as thought reform or re-education) consists of any effort aimed at instilling certain attitudes and beliefs in a person — beliefs sometimes unwelcome or in conflict with the person's prior beliefs and knowledge,[1] in order to affect that individual's value system and subsequent thought-patterns and behaviors."

The sash is ancient Indian dress, infact ancient Asian dress. I t has been worn by Indian women for thousands of years as a form of beautification, has been worn by the rural folk as a mean of keeping important items on their being and has been worn by warriors to hold numerous traditional non-Islamic weapons i.e. the Katar and Kukri.

The coincidence that the word Kamar has a Persian roots is irrelevant, we already know many Punjabi words have Persian roots, big deal!

Stop with the childish 'everything Persian' mentality, it's getting boring and frankly annoying.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...