What's up with the weird beard?

I like to do yoga. I find it invigorating. I am not into the hairi-khrishna/organic/vegetarian/hippie/smoked-to-much-dope in-the-60/70/80/90’s, dude aspect of it. I just like yoga. Once in a while I will pick up a Yoga magazine to pass the time and to amuse myself.

The question that always hits me is *What’s the deal with the swami’s (or is it swamii?) beard?

Primarily in the advertising section in the back there will be a handful of scary looking, shell shocked, emaciated looked guys with these really bad looking ZZ TOP beards. Come visit their little posh compound for a journey to self realization blah blah blah… these guys are freaky looking…

I’ve never been able to find an exact reason (if there is one) why yogi’s/swami’s/whatever grow their beards like this. ( all the cool yoga video guys are clean shaven, because frankly, long beard like that do not intice customers to buy the product.)

Anyone have any ideas.

Your post comes across as a bit … hmm, hippiephobic. I am just old enough to remember the 1960s and in those days the big beard was the “in” thing. It was a sign of hippie/yogi coolness. Those were the days of flower children, peace & love, and Maharishi.

Check out Bhagwan Das’s autobiography It’s Here Now (Are You?): he was wandering around the Himalayas in the 60s looking for a guru. A lot of the gurus he found ran sannyasi orders that required you to shave your head & beard and wear orange robes. He wasn’t having any of that! He kept looking until he found a guru that would let him keep his beard & long hair.

In the Hindu context the long dreadlocks & beards on sadhus are a sign of renunciation of all worldly ties and all social roles (e.g. social disapproval from the Shirleys of the world); they’re beyond all that.

(One of my pet peeves: people who look and me and sneer disdainfully: “Some people just haven’t heard that the Sixties are over!”)

The Jeffster told me of a Discovery Channel show on sadhus in the Himalayas. One of them had the beard & the dreadlocks and wore only a G-string loincloth. He was shown revving up a motorcycle and looked blissfully happy. The Jeffster remarked: Isn’t this just the thing to attract Americans to Hinduism! You get to grow your hair, smoke ganja, and cruise on motorcycles!

P.S. I love yoga too, apart from stylistic trends.

Yoga is cool, though it will not give you the supernatural ‘powers’ some claim it will.

Yoga masters, gurus, so-called far eastern holy men are being proven as bunk lately as their tricks are exposed. One claims to be able to fly, teaches his followers to fly through yoga but all they do is ‘hop,’ powered by spastic motions of the crossed legs. The Yogi himself has never been recorded flying and, now very wealthy from his followers contributions, is driven by his fleet of limousines and private jets.

The beard thing is the ‘wild look’ generated by the Eastern Indian wise men. Since most were supposed to commune with nature, live solitary lives in distant caves or live lives of self imposed poverty, naturally they should look, and mostly smell, earthy.

Unfortunately, most these days mix good philosophy with good meditation and physical techniques with over blown promises of great abilities to come, if you try hard enough, to scam you out of your money.

There are con men in any field of life. There are genuine yogis who have greatly benefited many people with yoga. So you just have to exercise your discernment and common sense before you sign on the dotted line. I have been taking yoga classes (at low cost and no commitment) from teachers in the lineage of Swami Sivananda, who was the real deal, the genuine article. He was a chap with no beard and a completely shaven head. So hair is something extrinsic to the real value of yoga. (BTW, Swami Sivananda’s disciple, Swami Vishnu-Devananda, who brought the lineage to America, had the full-blown long hippie hair & beard.)