Was it normal for people to shave their armpits at the time of the Buddha? Ud 6.2

In Ud 6.2 it states:

seven wanderers, with their nails, armpit-hair, and body hair grown long

To me this implies that it was unusual to grow ones armpit hair long. Does anyone have info on this?

I straight away thought of the Bhikkhuni patimoka pacittiya 2

So trimmed but not plucked?

Sometimes, contemporarily, Indian ascetics (wanderers? the clothless people one sees doing yoga in BBC documentaries, I mean) seem to choose some “thing” to do “for God”, and they do it forever as a practice.

I am thinking particularly of a wanderer featured in the tragically named BBC series, An Idiot Abroad, who decided to raise his right arm forever, for God.

His arm was a withered husk, he had literally held it up so long that his muscles had atrophied. Could this shaving abstaining be another “(semi-?)particular” practice of the wanderers? I cannot say. I would have no idea as to the historical context and/or roots of this wanderer’s practice.

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Good point, it would seem so. The same passage occurs at SN 3.11.

There was obviously a lot of attention to grooming in those days, as evidenced by both the images on the early stupas, and the frequent mention of barbers in the EBTs. Quite likely keeping bodily hair trimmed or shaven was common.


Even more importantly, did the Buddha have a beard? :open_mouth:

And the stuff about refraining from self-adornments – ointments, jewelry, maybe fancy hairdos, etc – as well as all sorts of entertainments, in the 8 Precept scheme (as in Mahasi-Pandita retreats).

Wow. That reads:

Should any bhikkhuni have the hair in the tight places (armpits and pelvic areas) removed, it is to be confessed.

That implies that removing the hair was something at least not unknown, if not a common practice even!

I’ve sat around a dhuni with such a fellow. He had had his arm raised for something like 7 years. Nails all curled around too. But regarding shaving, from what I gather usually it’s the opposite, letting nature take its course - except shaving the head for certain initiations or things like that. Though my knowledge is very limited.