About monks nuns shaving eyebrows beards

Hi , is it compulsory for bhikkhu bhikkhuni shaving eyebrows beards ?

Shaving eyebrows is a Thai tradition, not a Vinaya rule.
In Thailand spies from Byrma and other countries disguised themselves as Thai monks. So Thai king decided that monks should shave their eybrows - so everyone can see, who is the true monk.
Of course, spies soon heard about that and started to shave their eyebrows too, rendering it useless, but the custom remained.


And, in additional to Gert’s reply, I am not aware of any Vinaya rule that requires face shaving, though there are rules regarding the tending to facial hair.

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Seems to be more of a practice in Thailand than anywhere else.

There isn’t an explicit requirement to shave the beard, but there is a requirement in the Cullavagga that it not be permitted to grow long (na massu vaḍḍhāpetabbaṃ). Since one isn’t permitted to pluck the beard out in the Jain manner, shaving suggests itself as the obvious way of keeping it short. Cutting with scissors would be an alternative way (though only for the beard, not the hair on one’s head).

In modern practice, the general expectation in Thailand and Myanmar is that monks will shave often, not letting their faces accumulate more than a millimetre or two of stubble. In Sri Lanka, on the other hand, it’s not uncommon for monks to shave their faces only with the same frequency that they shave their heads. As a result, one often sees Sri Lanka-ordained monks sporting a fairly substantial beard growth.


Bhante @Dhammanando - I had heard that some Vinaya (sub?) commentary defined “head hair” as “any hair above the neck” and that this was the reason for the shaving of eyebrows. Might you know what text my informant may have been referring to? :pray:


I’m not familiar with that.

The impression I get from the detailed exposition of the thirty-two parts of the body in the Visuddhimagga and the Khuddakapatha commentary is that the commentators understood kesā to be strictly limited to the scalp hairs, while all other hairs (including eyebrows and eyelashes), are lomā. Note in particular what the description says about the shape, direction and location of the two hair types:

Kesā are long, lomā are curved.

Kesā are only in the body’s upper direction, lomā are are in both the upper and lower directions.

Kesā are located in “moist inner skin of the head delimited by the edge of the forehead, the roots of the ears, and the nape of the neck”, lomā are located everywhere except the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.