How much is known to support, to refute, or to expand upon the following viewpoint?

The Buddha shaved his head like all his bhikkhus.

Supposed reasons to backup this viewpoint are:

  • There are references in the Pali Canon where someone calls Gotama a shaven-headed recluse.
  • There are other references, like in the Ariyapariyesana Sutta (MN 26), where The Buddha explains that he shaved his head when he went forth.
  • Buddhism arose during an an-iconic period, so depictions of the Buddha were frowned upon.
  • Artistic depictions of the Buddha are relics of the Ghandara Buddha-statues, created long after the Buddha's death.
  • This representation was spread to other Buddhist regions over time.

Quite curious what can be said about this topic.


1 Answer 1


Actually, the orthodox view is that he cut off his hair with a sword when he went forth and it settled itself into ringlets which never grew back and hence he never needed to shave again; this according to the Nidanakatha of the Jataka commentary:

Next he thought, "These locks of mine are not suited to a monk; but there is no one fit to cut the hair of a Future Buddha. Therefore I will cut them off myself with my sword." And grasping a simitar with his right hand, he seized his top-knot with his left hand, and cut it off, together with the diadem. His hair thus became two finger-breadths in length, and curling to the right, lay close to his head. As long as he lived it remained of that length, and the beard was proportionate. And never again did he have to cut either hair or beard.


  • 3
    This is contrary to the what the suttas say. Could this have been a later addition to justify the already extant Greek statues? Also is not the duty of a the Buddha's personal attendant to shave the Thathagatha's hair? We know that the Buddha's body did age and decay as told in the Mahaparinibbana sutta, so to then believe that his hair and beard did not grow after he cut it as a Bodhisatva seems contrary as well. Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 6:24

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