Part VII — Short hair and beards

Question: Why do you ask your male disciples to have short hair and not to wear a beard?

Sri Chinmoy: It is my inner feeling that when men have short hair, they look smarter, more handsome and more charming. The vibration that I get from them is infinitely better when they have short hair than when they have long hair. Also, their masculine qualities, their dynamic qualities, come to the fore immediately when their hair is short.

When I look into the soul, I see that it is absolutely unnecessary for a man to grow long hair. For women, it is all right. Men and women have different soul’s qualities which they have to manifest. When you look at a person, his general appearance should immediately give the feeling that he is a man or a woman. Man and woman are like right hand and left hand. The right hand should play the role of the right hand, and the left hand should play the role of the left hand. When I first saw some of my disciples, with my human eyes I could not immediately recognise whether they were men or women.

When men have long hair, they often do not wash it or keep it tidy. Women are generally better in this respect. Then, when others sit near a man with dirty or unkempt hair, they feel uneasy; it disturbs their meditation. Also, when someone has a beard so big that it obscures his face, even though he may not be aware of it, the people who are trying to meditate near him get a kind of unnatural vibration from him. They feel that he is deliberately disturbing them. Now, he may feel that it is his face, and that he can grow a beard or have long hair if he wants to, but what right does he have to create problems for others? He may say, “It is not your business if I have long hair. It is, after all, my life. I am responsible for myself.” But I wish to say that if he does not follow a Master and he meditates by himself, then naturally he can do whatever he wants. But if he follows a Master, and if that Master has other spiritual children, then there has to be some discipline so that the disciples can inspire one another. At that time the Master cannot allow each disciple to follow all his own inclinations.

An aspirant is crying for his own salvation, and yet consciously or unconsciously he is interfering with the little possibility or potentiality of his fellow man. We have come into the world to love God. If we really love God, then we will also love mankind. If we love our brothers and sisters, then let us help them at least by not interfering with their aspiration. If by making a little sacrifice we can help others, we should do so. Love is my philosophy, devotion is my philosophy, surrender is my philosophy. Of course, my philosophy is not meant for everybody.

I insist absolutely upon short hair for my men disciples. On rare occasions I make exceptions in the case of beards. But I have to follow my principles, because they are based upon my own inner realisation. If I know that there is a tiger lurking along a certain path, then I will not take that path, and I will also advise my loved ones not to take that path. But if someone else does not see the tiger and does not believe in it, then he goes on. There are many Masters who allow long hair, and you are at perfect liberty to follow them. But if you want to follow my path, this is what I want. I do not have to give any justification at all, but I explain my reasons to you so that your minds will understand and be satisfied.

When somebody comes to me with the request, “Please help me to realise God,” I assume that this person knows that he has not been able to accomplish this himself. For thousands of years he has been trying to realise God. I tell him inwardly: “You are asking for something very high, very deep, very significant. It is most difficult, but I shall help you. I shall take up the challenge.” Now, since I am trying to please him, I ask him also to try to please me. What he is asking of me is a lifelong task, and extremely difficult. The small favour I ask of him is very easy to do. It takes only a few minutes for him to cut his hair and shave his beard. If he cannot please me in something as simple as this, why should I spend my life trying to please him? And what will happen when I ask him to perform some really rigorous spiritual discipline?

A sincere spiritual aspirant will not care more for his beard and long hair than he cares for God. If a Master gives him joy, if he feels that this Master is meant for him and will be able to take him to God, then he will gladly give up his long hair and beard.

Progress in the spiritual life is a matter of acceptance. The Master must accept the disciple and the disciple must accept the Master. The Master is someone in whom you can place all your faith. There should be no question in your mind that he knows better than you do. Otherwise, today the Master will say one thing, and it will not please you. Then, tomorrow he will say something else and there, too, you will find fault. In this way you will make no progress at all. You have to start with faith, and not let your questioning and doubting mind interfere with your life of aspiration.

There is no difference between the Master’s will and the Goal. In his will itself is the Goal, and the Goal is his divine will. The Master has realised the Highest. If somebody wants to become part and parcel of the Highest, then the Master will tell him what is the best thing for him to do. The Master is not just a person, but the representative of God, the Supreme. The Supreme is your Master; the Supreme is his Master; the Supreme is everybody’s Master.