The Aghori are ascetic Shaiva sadhus. The Aghori are known to engage in post-mortem rituals. The term “Aghori” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Aghor”, which means not to forget or non-terrible in one’s perspective. The Aghoras is said to have been over 1000 years old, the first Aghori sadhu being “Keenaram”.
Know the Aghori’s better:
The most feared and the most respected clan of sadhus or ascetics of India, the Aghori sadhus are notorious for their uncommon and grisly rituals they perform as a part and parcel of their religious routine, enough to arouse curiosity and awe among the public.
They inhibit the city of Varanasi (Banaras), alongside the banks of the river Ganga, where the most revered temple of Kasi Vishwanath stand proudly.
They often dwell in charnel grounds, have been witnessed smearing cremation ashes on their bodies, and have been known to use bones from human corpses for crafting kapalas (skull cups which Shiva and other Hindu deities are often iconically depicted holding or using) and jewellery. Because of their practices that are contradictory to orthodox Hinduism, they are generally opposed by other Hindus.
Many Aghori gurus command great reverence from rural populations as they are supposed to possess healing powers gained through their intensely eremitic rites and practices of renunciation and tápasya.
Read on to know some of the unusual facts about of the Aghori Sadhu’s:
The human skull or ‘kapal’ is the true sign of an Aghori:
This is the first thing he must procure from the floating corpses of holy men in rivers where they are laid to rest. After he receives the magical incantation from his guru, he starts his life as an Aghori, eating the remnants of the dead and bathing in the icy waters of the Ganga. The fire pit is his temple and the abode of ghosts and evil spirits his home.
The Aghori has no fear of the dead:
His life centres around it and he lives there night and day. Ash is the cloth for Aghoris as was used by Lord Shiva. As his child, the Aghori must use it as well. Being made from the 5 elements, ash is essential to protect him from disease and mosquitoes. His constant state is to be one with Lord Shiva, and he starts to do this by imitating his physical appearance. Nothing can give them more pleasure than to be in this state.
In spite of Varanasi being a densely populated city, Cannibalism is openly practiced by the Aghoras in Varanasi without any public upheaval as they usually do not kill humans for their needs, but only consume corpses from cremating grounds. Corpses are eaten raw and at times they are roasted over open flame. After eating a certain quantity of flesh, they start meditating sitting atop a corpse which is continued all night.
Tantric powers and Black magic:
The healing powers of Aghori Sadhus are said to come from their expertise in Black magic. What they say about these practices is that they never use their powers for harmful deeds. Instead, they absorb the diseases that plague the victims who visit them into their bodies and eliminate the diseases by burning them using Black magic. Certain Aghori who intensely practice Black magic say the more they please Lord Shiva and goddess Kali, the more they gain powers.
Demands of the Goddess?
Aghoris believe that it is Goddess Kali who actually demands satisfaction through meat, alcohol, and sex. All three things are banned for other sadhus. To eat meat actually means to eat everything. To have no limits, because all is one. By eating anything, Aghoris try to gain awareness of the oneness of everything and eliminate discrimination. Therefore they consume feces, human fluids and human flesh. Like other sadhus, they live in celibacy, but with one exception.
The shocking sex rituals:
As per the Aghoris, when the goddess Kali demands satisfaction in sex, they then have to find an appropriate corpse and have sexual intercourse with it. “The reason why we do things that seem outrageous to the outside world is actually simple. To find purity in the filthiest! If an Aghori manages to remain focused on God even during sex with a corpse or while eating a human brain, then he is on the right way.”
The nasty appetite:
The Aghori are well known for their extremely revolting appetite. Their food habits include whatever a civilized human being will not eat at any cost, such as foods from dump site, faeces, urine and putrefying human corpses. But they seem to have their own reasons for their nasty appetite. Consumption of excreta is said to kill ego and derail the human perception of beauty, which is essential for a man to lead his life as an Aghori.
An Aghori does not hold hate in his heart:
They believe that one who hates cannot meditate. Sharing food with dogs and cows does not sound repulsive to them; rather it is how they eat their meals – alongside the animals which frequent cremation grounds, out of the same bowl. It is their belief that if they were to start worrying about insignificant things like animals dirtying their food, they would not be able to focus on their higher aims of meditating and becoming one with Lord Shiva.
A Creepy sense of fashion:
Aghoras are known for their spooky sense of fashion. They move about in the city with nothing more on their bodies except a skimpy jute loin cloth and at times, nude. Being nude, in their terms is complete renunciation from the material world and its attachments. Most often, they smear their bodies with ash from human cremated remains to cover their nakedness. Talking about accessories, Human skulls are worn as jewellery around their necks. Some Aghoras (or Aghori) are also reported to roam around with the femur (thigh bone) of cremated people as a Aghoran symbol. They never cut their hair, letting it fall to their knees, making Agoras be easily spotted anywhere amidst a hell of a crowd.
The ‘Five M’ Concept:
The Agoras are cool enough to compile their beliefs into a 5M protocol. The five M concept has many other different versions, but the Aghoric version of the 5M concept or Dakshinakara has its own translation of the original.
- Madya – Wine (which means a heavenly fluid which drips from the glands of human brain.)
- Mamsa – Meat (swallowing the tongue)
- Matsya- fish (twin-fish an ‘8’ shaped structure which forms a part of the backbone)
- Mudra- parched grain (positions of Kundalini yoga, followed by Aghori ascetics)
- Maithuna- Sexual intercourse. (Should be learnt from a Sriguru)