mmdesh at umich.edu
Fri Mar 28 12:32:53 UTC 1997
"Sikhaa (or "se.n.dii in Marathi) was indeed a sign of Brahmanhood
untill recently. Growing hair was considered a sign of westernization and
I have been told of the stories of my father's confrontations with my
grandfather on this issue. Indeed when I was growing up in Poona, wearing
a "sikhaa was basically done by the ultra-orthodox Brahmins and
functioning priests, and the few boys in my school who did continue this
practice were severely ridiculed by others. I remember that after my own
Upanayana ceremony at the age of eight, which was the only time I had this
"sikhaa, I was too ashamed to show my head in the school, and suffered
some ridicule until my hair grew back to their normal length. However, in
pre-modern Maharashtra, at least the evidence of ballads from the medieval
times suggests that even the Maratha kings may have practised this custom.
In a ballad describing the death of Sambhaaji (Shivaaji's son) at the
hands of Aurangzeb, the Muslim captor offers to let Sambhaaji live, if he
would cut off his "se.n.dii and grow his beard, both of which would be
indications of his conversion to Islam.
In the context of modernity, the few Upanayanas of Marathi Brahman
boys that I have seen take place here in Michigan, the boy was spared this
particular custom, to avoid him being ridiculed at school.
All the best,
On Fri, 28 Mar 1997, Pierre Filliozat wrote:
> The hindi curkii or cu.tiyaa probably derives from the sanskrit cuu.daa.
> The tuft of hair plays a ritualistic role in Tantric pratices. This is one
> of the parts of the body which are concerned with ritualistic actions such
> as placing mantras on the body (ritual of sakaliikara�na). But in Tantric
> texts the sanskrit word "sikhaa is generally used in that sense. In "saiva
> tantras the "sikhaa is tuft of hair representing the intermediate space
> between the brahmarandhra and the point called dvaada"santa 12 inches
> above. See for example Brunner-Lachaux, Soma"sambhupaddhati, Pondicherry
> 1963, etc.
> Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat
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