||Conversation with Dr. Anand Mohan
Q: I understand from what you told me that the tonsure hair cutting practice is absolutely not a sacrifice to the gods. Last week a someone I know was in Tirupati and asked some pilgrims explicitly what they mean when they say the hair is an “offering”, and they said that they mean the hair is an offering to the god, and even when asked a few times they insisted that it is indeed an offering to the god and by that they mean a real offering, that the hair is going to the god.
A: There are twenty languages spoken by the pilgrims, they come form India, from various places, and to Westerners the meaning of “offer” is different, no matter how you explain it a westerner won’t understand it the way it really means. The meaning of “offer” is not the same in the ancient languages and in Indian – “offer” means “surrender” “renunciation” so they are saying yes they surrender to the gods and the gods “receive” the surrender, but that means that the gods are happy with it, like you may say someone “got the meaning” of what you say it doesn’t mean he physically gets it, it means he understands it. The same thing when a pilgrim says they “offer” to the gods it means they surrender their inner selves to the gods and the gods understand and accept their surrender – “accept” meaning agree …
If you want to call it an offering it makes sense but what it means in the Hindu religion is different.
Q: Like we might say G-d “accepts” our repentance
A: Yes, yes. It is like that. There is no parallel word in the West for “offering” in this sense. It means “we surrender our ego”. The pilgrims they don’t know English well, they say it the way they can.
Everything they do, it’s an “offering” to god. By worshipping god you become one with god so you give up your ego to god in that sense. The first prayer is SHIVA – “we become one with you”.
The haircutting is done outside, then they take a bath and go inside and then they offer coconuts and fruits to the god, but the haircut is nothing holy it is nothing sacred, not at all, my wife took my daughter when she was 6 months old to Tirupati, and the hair was offered, and if you talk to these pilgrims they will say whatever they say but what they mean is that they are renunciation their prized possession and the gods accept their renunciation, meaning the gods agree and are happy about it.
Q: Is it possible anything changed in the procedure in the past 15 years?
A: No, no, nothing has changed at all. It is all the same way it was always done. Nothing has changed.