One of the most curious questions that people have about monks is considering why they are bald. Is it really necessary to shave of all of your hair, and in some cases your eyebrows too, when becoming a monk? When did this tradition begin?
The main reason that monks shave their hair is that it is associated with sexuality. As a monk, you renounce your interest in the opposite sex for religion. Shaving your head is a way of showing that you have no interest in persuing sexual desire any longer.
This is the most common reason for monks being bald, but this specifically refers to Buddhist monks. Buddha himself had a shaved head, and during his period of living, it was actually considered a shameful thing to do this (originally at least). Buddha taught his followers to reduce their ego by shaving their head completely free of hair – much like the astetic practices of other philosophers throughout history. It’s important to remember that they will use a bald head razor to shave their hair as short as possible – usually once a week or so.
Essentially, monks want to show others that they are devoted to this practice entirely. Watch this funny video in which a monk explains why he shaves his head (it’s very tongue in cheek so beware!).
In other religions like Christianity it is thought to have come directly from Jesus’ disciples. His disciples shaved their heads to show others that they were devoting their life to him and nothng else – it was a good way to distinguish themselves from others.
Keeping your head moisturized and appearing well is also important for a monk. Many monks will have a specific head care practice to ensure that their head is receiving optimal care. You will also likely notice that monks do not have much issue with this – have you ever seen a monk with acne? No, me either. This is likely down to the lifestyle that they lead, avoiding toxins in their food and getting a significant amount of exercise.
Becoming a monk is a serious thing, and not something to be taken lightly. Shaving their hair is a small sacrifice to make to devote themselves entirely to their religion, as appearance is no longer of importance.