Chūḍākarma, popularly known as Chaulaṃ, is a saṃskāraḥ that is performed at the age of three. This saṃskāraḥ is instructed to be performed by the trauvarṇikāḥ, i.e. brāmaṇaḥ, kṣatriyaḥ and vaiśyaḥ. This saṃskāraḥ is prescribed only for the boys. In the Indian tradition, many physical signs/styles are introduced like yagṅōpavītaṃ for men and mangalasūtraṃ for women which signifies their bondage with the tradition. Śikhā is considered to be one of the most important components for leading a sacred life. Hence, the anuṣṭānaṃ without a śikhā or yagṅōpavītaṃ is considered nullified which do not produce any result.
Viśikhō vyupavītaśca yat karoti na tat kṛtaṃ
Chūḍā means lock of hair mostly in the center part of the head, which is popularly known as śikhā also. Karma means the procedure or work. So, Chūḍākarma is the saṃskāraḥ where the father is keeping a śikhā by tonsuring the remaining hair with the help of a barber. This saṃskāraḥ is performed right before upanayanaṃ and going to gurukulaṃ. Traditionally, anuṣṭānaṃ or daily rituals and adhyanaṃ or learning from the teacher has a prominent place. These both are assumed to complement each other to fulfill their goals. So having a Śikhā signifies his willingness for anuṣṭānaṃ, which would eventually lead him to adhyanaṃ. It is denoted in the verse as follows:
Cūḍāyāḥ karaṇaṃ, cūḍā prayōjanaṃ asya cauḍaṃ
Pāpōpaśamanaṃ kēśa nakha rōmāpavarjanṃ| Harṣa soubhāgyakaraṃ utsāhavardhanaṃ||
Pauṣṭkaṃ vṛṣyamāyuṣyaṃ śucirūpaṃ virājanaṃ| kēśa śmaśṛ nakhādīnāṃ kartanaṃ saṃprasādhanaṃ||
The above mentioned verse delineate that having a Śikhā does not only signify his interest in the tradition but also has a relation with general health according to Suśṛutaḥ and Carakaḥ. Cutting nails, tonsuring hair on the head, hand and legs would keep away some pollutants. This also results in happiness and wealth. Dharmaśāstraṃ also state longevity and varcas as a result of performing this saṃskāraḥ. In the āśvalāyana gṛhya sūtraṃ, he states that 'Oh learned one! I am tonsuring you to ensure your longevity'.
Chūḍākarma dvijātīnām sarveṣāmeva dharmataḥ| prathamebde tṛtīyevā kartavyam śrutichodanāt||
There is a lot of discussion on the time to perform this saṃskāraḥ. Prescribed time in different gṛhya sūtraṃ are 1st year, 3rd year, 5th year, 7th year or at the time of upanayanaṃ. They have stated some special results according to time of execution like if it is done in the 3rd year he would fulfill all his dreams, if it is done in the 5th year he would get good children and animals in the future.
Till this saṃskāraḥ is performed the child's hair is not cut or shaved. For the first time, the boy's head is shaved with a portion of hair left in the center part of the head. According to many gṛhya sūtraṃ this saṃskāraḥ is performed for boys only, but some state the saṃskāraḥ to girls also without mantra and shaving of the hair. As the female is not permitted to shave her head till ones husband's death, this saṃskāraḥ is performed by just cutting a small portion of hair in all four directions and in the center.
- It is called as dharmic.
- It is the teachers place to study.
- mahābhāṣyaṃ - in the Sanskrit language the letter 'ḍa' can be replaced by 'la'. So the word 'cauḍaṃ' became 'caulaṃ'
- suśṛutasaṃhitā - cikitsāsthānaṃ
- It is a type of glow in the body, generally seen in sages.
- The one who is going to became a scholar after going to gurukulaṃ to learn under his teacher
- manusmṛti, smṛti muktāphalaṃ, p.83