Aghori: Human-Flesh Eating Monks
The Aghoris are members of a Hindu sect who worship Shiva (a major Hindu god and one aspect of Trimurti – the Hindu trinity), whom they see as the supreme god. Because they believe that Shiva created everything they consider nothing to be bad. For this reason they engage in a variety of sexual practices (for example they perform a secret Tantric ritual involving sex with a lower caste, menstruating woman during which the Aghori becomes Shiva and his partner Shiva’s female energy), they drink alcohol, take drugs, and eat meat. Nothing is considered taboo. But the thing that makes their ancient traditions bizarre is that they are also practicing cannibals and their temples are cremation grounds.
An aghori lives in the cremation ground and is able to support himself there – his clothing comes from the dead, his firewood comes from the funeral pyres, and food from the river. When a person is cremated, an aghori will coat himself in the ashes of the body and meditate on the dead. Aghoris survive by begging with a bowl made from a human skull. The most shocking aspect of the Aghori life is their cannibalism. Dead bodies that are found floating in the river are gathered up and meditated on. The limbs are then removed by the Aghori and eaten raw.
The corpses, which may be either pulled from a river (including the Ganges) or obtained from cremation grounds, are consumed both raw and cooked on open flame, as the Aghoris believe that what others consider a “dead man” is, in fact, nothing but a natural matter devoid of the life force it once contained. Therefore while for ordinary folks cannibalism may be seen as primitive, barbaric as well as unclean, for aghori’s it’s being both resourceful and subverting the common stereotypes placed on such taboos into a spiritual ascertainment that indeed nothing is profane nor separate from God, who is hailed to be all and in all. In fact, the Aghoris see it as a scientific approach in trying to discover how matter converts from one form to another.
There are many aghoris walking the streets of northern India with their skull cups. These aghoris eat anything, including rotten food, food from the dumps, animal feces, animal urine, etc. They regularly perform rituals to attain the highest level in enlightenment. Many aghoris walk around completely naked.
An American Aghori
A typical American kid from a typical if affluent family, Gary Stevenson’s life first veered off the normal path when he was stricken with polio as a child. A troubled youth and rebellious adolescence coincided with the Age of Aquarius and Gary set off on a spiritual path that took him to San Francisco, Hawaii, and finally into India and Nepal in an ever-deeper slide into the extreme. Along the way he shed his identity, legally changing his name to Giridas Rama Sitanatha as he sought a magical path to immortality and enlightenment. Eventually, he turned to Aghor and its dark tantric rites.
As he studied and excelled at his new religion, his guru christened him “Kapal Nath,” and he became lost in a lifestyle of grave robbing and cannibalizing the bodies to consume the Shakti (life energy) of the dead. [Source]
If you are interested in watching another fascinating documentary on the Aghoris, you can watch an excellent one here in full. If you want to watch an extremely gruesome video of the aghoris, you can do that here. Be warned, however, it contains video footage of cannibalism.
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