5 Bizarre Facts About Aghori: The Cannibal Tribe of Varanasi
‘Want to know what a dead guy’s brain tastes like? Charcoal’.
‘It was burnt to a crisp!
CNN Presenter, Reza Aslan updated his FB status after he did the unthinkable. And, guess what? He came all the way to Varanasi, India to experience one of the most bizarre things in his life with the Aghoris.
India is a land of diversities and varied cultures. You will find every flavour of life here. During this month, as we foray into the tidbits of Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India, we bring you a feature on Aghoris, the most feared yet the most respected clan of sadhus in the country.
The very mention of the Aghoris makes us uncomfortable because of their weird and controversial lifestyle and indulgence in post-mortem rituals like cannibalism, necromancy and necrophilia. But, there is definitely more to the Aghori cult than we can perceive.
Aghoris are ascetic Shaiva sadhus of India, who are staunch worshippers of Lord Shiva or Goddess Kali. They believe in finding ‘purity in the filthiest’, so their beliefs, rituals, and customs are unacceptable for many of us, But, for them, it is the chosen way of life, and they stand by it. Let’s take a plunge into their eccentric world and find out ‘the Aghori way of life’.
5 WH- facts about Aghoris, which will give you creeps, but they are as real as you and me:
What they believe: Aghoris believe in communicating with the dead, which takes them closer to the Lord. They believe in black magic and attaining supernatural power through meditation. They never hold grudges or hatred for anyone. Often, they share food with dogs and other animals, which they think eliminates negative thoughts and takes them closer to the God.
What they say: Profanity is quite normal in their way of life. They are known to bless others by cursing them. They hurl abuses without any reason, but many consider this as a blessing.
What they wear: You must have seen Aghoris wearing minimal and skimpy clothes, they roam almost naked. That is because they are imitators of Lord Shiva. They smear ashes from dead and cremated bodies to reconnect with the dead. They also extract human oils from bodies as they believe it to have medicinal values. Their favourite ornament is a human skull of which they make various pieces of jewellery.
What they eat: They mostly stay in burial grounds or shamshan, away from the human civilization or places where normal people dare to tread. Aghoris survive of human flesh (either raw or cooked on burning pyre), human excreta, faeces and urine. They use the human skull to drink. According to them, eating human flesh is a way to connect with the dead, and ultimately with the Divine Lord. They also meditate over the half-eaten corpses. They believe to derive supernatural powers through these from Lord Shiva. Aghoris are known to consume marijuana at high levels as well.
What sex means to them: Their sex rituals are bizarre. They exercise necrophilia that is having sex with corpses. Even, if they have a partner, they are smeared with ashes and the entire process is performed in front of others with drums beating and chants. It has also been heard that the woman needs to be menstruating during the act and the orgasm needs to end till the ritual is over and not before that. They believe this is the worship of Goddess Kali who needs satisfaction through sex.
Many of the things that you just read might sound disgusting and infuriating, but ‘this’ parallel world DO exist, and they don’t care what the rest of the world thinks.
Charnel grounds are their dwelling place, Cannibalism is their choice, Necrophilia is their pleasure, Necromancy is their nirvana, and Profanity is their wish. Everyone has their own way to worship the Divine and attain peace, and so do they.
Though we might not be able to comprehend their ways, the mystical Aghoris are an integral part of our culture and heritage, and of our extended society as well.