adamposey wrote:I'm legitimately curious about this. It seems like something that is done more traditionally, but buddhism doesn't (in my reading) have any tradition that exists for tradition's sake. So I am very curious about why this is done. Anyone?
It was common for all shramanas (those going forth) even before Buddha's enlightenment to leave home and shave the head and perform ascetic practices. It is one less thing to be attached to. One less thing to identify with as a specific or permanent identity.
In the Buddhist Vinaya, the rule allows the hair to grow to a certain amount before the rule is 'violated.' I think it is around one inch or so, I forget the exact amount, but it need not be down to the skin at all times in Buddhism.