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6-Aghori

People are generally categorized based on their eating preferences as Vegetarians and Non-vegetarians. But what would you call a human being who feeds on dead bodies? Death is consciously or unconsciously feared by all. It is one part of life which cannot be comprehended. Every body knows that there are certain abnormally brained people who enjoy killing their own species and feed on them. These are the cannibals. But not many are aware of a tribe that dwells in India, whose people feed on dead humans. They actually worship death more than anything else. To them death is a messiah. These people are the Aghoris, also called Aghori Babas or Aghori Tantriks.

Aghoris are a Hindu sect separated from the Kapalika order in the fourteenth century. Their origin is supposedly traced by Kina Ram, an ascetic considered to be the reincarnation of Lord Shiva. He apparently lived for 150 years. The aghor tradition was started by Lord Dattatreya. The word epitomizes a lifestyle where a person of the aghor tradition does not have any intense feelings of affection, hatred, love, jealousy, greed and other worldly feelings. He is indifferent to every emotion around him. They are devotees of Lord Shiva and are often considered the third face worshippers of Shiva. They are believed to possess powers to heal and relieve pain, gained due to their intense practices. They believe in reincarnation and that moksha or liberation is attained by all. They seek more and more power to attain moksha. For them there is nothing such as impure and pure. For them everything is pure and perfect, so is death.

Aghoris at a Kumbh Mela Credit: http://www.adolphus.nl/sadhpix/2477.jpg

Aghoris at a Kumbh Mela Credit: http://www.adolphus.nl/sadhpix/2477.jpg

For the aghoris, life is based on two principles. One that Shiva is perfect and second that Shiva is responsible for every existence and every thought. Due to this opine, everything that persists must be perfect and to deny the perfection of anything would be to deny the Gods.

The Aghoris eat literally any form of food. From raw meat, to dead humans to toxicants. Anything can mean food to them. By this they get aware of oneness and look down upon discrimination. They carry out several sexual practices ritually. They don’t marry. They dig out a woman’s body from the grave and dress her up as a bride and have sex with it. They often visualize their death. When they do, they choose one of their students or successor and take them into the deep forest area. The successor is then asked to eat their Guru. This way the entire responsibility is given to the student, who then eats his Guru. This is also called Sarvabhojana and their belief is that the Guru is inside his Shishya and that all his powers have been transferred to his Shishya.

The headquarters of this tribe is Varanasi. A couple of Aghoris live in the Manikarnika pier. They are almost naked or sometimes dress in black robes and have long hair. They also exist in remote places like caves in the himalayas and jungles in the Bengal. They perform rituals or Pujas at a remote shore near the holy river Ganges and at Smashaan Ghats or cemetery. The Smashaan is also called “ The City of Silence” since it is said to have spirits. They perform the Puja hoping to awaken spirits and bring strength inside them. They consider that if they digest all evil, there will be no fear. Before performing the ritual, they draw a circle around them to prevent the spirits from interfering. And rub themselves with ashes of cremation pyres. Most Pujas involve sacrifice. The dead bodies are said to please the Goddess of the Smashaan.

An aghori performing the Puja Credit: http://www.indianetzone.com/27/images/aghori_13470.jpg

An aghori performing the Puja Credit: http://www.indianetzone.com/27/images/aghori_13470.jpg

In June 1996, and IIT, Mumbai student had turned into an Aghori. He was found in a railway station in Indore. He narrated his story, “ I was a student at the IIT (Indian institute for technology,mumbai- a very prestigious college of India).I had once gone to visit my brother in Goa. One fine day my brother, his wife and I went to the beach. An old man was staring into the sky and shivering with cold on the beach. He was naked .We had a blanket with us which my elder brother offered to him. He bluntly rejected it. My brother who was adament, still tried giving it to him. This time the old man threw the blanket into to the sea. This annoyed my brother, so he started beating the man up. I tried to stop him but he was very angry. The old man told my brother to stop beating him or else his children would not live anymore .My brother did not stop and then the man said “Now your children would not live”. We came back after the incident to my brother’s house. There, what we saw was terrible .My brothers both sons lie there bleeding. They had fallen from the roof. We rushed them to the hospital but they were declared dead on admission. We all were devastated. We could not figure out any reason how they might have fallen from the roof .I really could not forget the old man’s curse. I rushed back to the beach and after searching for a long time and asking many people I located the old man and told him about this. I fell on his feet and pleaded for the children’s life .He said ” you are late ,now I cannot do anything”. My head was spinning ,I was thinking how could these people be so powerful and if they were so powerful .I realized that all this education and wealth is useless.I asked to make me his shishya (disciple). I never went back home agian. I stayed with him in a hut and ever since have become an Aghori.”

An Aghori named Dhuni Waale Baba from Khandwa, MP was considered an idol for many people. His tomb is still worshipped in Khandwa. In January, 2001, an African man who studied metaphysics and theology from Los Angeles University, was recently found to have become an aghori. Recently an American named Gary Stevenson was found to have transformed into an aghori. He has named himself Kapal Nath. He said that he has roamed India for years in search of enlightenment, feasting on the remains of the Hindu dead “as often as possible…”

A ten minutes documentary was made on Aghoris by Sandeep Singh called “Feeding On the Dead”. Singh had shut down his transport business to pursue filmmaking. Apparently it took him more than three months to gain the trust of an aghori sadhu and convince him to be filmed while performing a cannibalistic ritual. He  took along three cameramen to Varanasi and waited with an aghori whose name is not mentioned in the film, for 10 days in June before finding a floating corpse in Ganges.  “The body was decomposed and bluish in color, but the sadhu was not afraid of falling sick”, Singh told The Associated Press. “He sat on the corpse, prayed to a Goddess of crematoriums and offered some flesh to the goddess before eating it.” Singh said that the sadhu ate a part of the corpse’s elbow believing the flesh would stop him from aging and give him special powers , like the ability to control the weather. Singh did not see any of those powers on display. Recently Aghori sadhus were also mentioned about in movies like Arundhati in Telugu and Raaz 2 in Hindi.

A true aghori is one who possesses magical powers, sacrifices dead bodies, feeds on them, and curses people for their own good. He neither loves nor hates, experiences neither sorrow nor happiness. Their main motive is to attain salvation in rottenness. And no, he doesn’t kill people. He is just a human, part of an Indian tribe that views life and this world with a very different perspective. Gracious to few, nauseuous to many. It may sound strange, but, yeah it is very true. Its a mad mad world after all!

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