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Soul That Matters: Discovering Aghori Life

Written by: Akshatha Vinayak
Published: Monday, June 27, 2016, 20:30 [IST]
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Do you know the occupation of Lord Shiva? He is the gatekeeper of cremation ground! Yes, that is why Aghori Sadhus believe in living near cremation grounds. We can either call it a sect or a state of mind but for Aghoris, everything is Shiva! More than the philosophy, it is their rituals and lifestyle that is controversial. If you are curious to see Aghori Saints, head towards to the holy city of Varanasi.

Discovering Aghori Life

Aghori Sadhu
Photo Courtesy: Archit Ratan

Who are Aghori Sadhus?

An Aghori is a Shaiva Sadhu or an ascetic. They follow a left-handed path which consists of strange customs. In fact, there is some spookiness attached with Aghoris; they are said to have supernatural powers and are known to be the practitioners of black magic.

More than anything, it is their practice of cannibalism that brings Aghori Saints into a global picture! Their food habits include eating from the human corpses, using a human skull as a vessel to drink, performing meditation in the cremation ground, smoke weed or cannabis, etc.

Discovering Aghori Life

Aghori Baba
Photo Courtesy: Chritopher Michel

In fact, it is not easy to become an Aghori. They have to perform 12 years of meditation and follow stringent rituals under an Aghori guru to become a part of this sect!

One Look at Aghori

All might not know the mythologies, but you might have seen the portrayal of Lord Shiva on TV and movies; long hair, a greyish or bluish body (smeared greyish powder), wearing a chain of rudraksha (brownish beads), rudraksha wristband, etc.

Discovering Aghori Life

Ashes smeared on the face
Photo Courtesy:

Aghori monks are similar; they smear their body with human ashes, wear rudraksha chains and wristbands, long hair and beards! One look at them is enough to feel scared or even uncomfortable at times.

Some Aghoris stroll around entirely naked; they don't believe in covering their body.

Why Such a Path?

You can hardly find them in daylight; their life is at night. Especially, on the banks of Ganga river in Varanasi or some burial ground.

Discovering Aghori Life

Aghori smoking cannabis
Photo Courtesy: Alewis2388

They leave the materialistic life and choose to forget their bodies. For Aghoris, the body is nothing; it is the 'Soul that Matters'! That is why they eat the human flesh like any animal meat. After the death of a person, the soul leaves a body and finally the body is nothing but flesh.

Aghori monks follow a concept called non-dualism; they live to attain moksha (liberation from human life). They forget all human pleasures, take a complicated and diverse path.

Baba Kinaram

Baba Kinaram was one of the first Aghori gurus. Most Aghori Sadhus follow Baba Kinaram's philosophy. In Varanasi, there is also an ashram or shrine dedicated to Baba Kinaram.

Discovering Aghori Life

Aghoris at Kumbh Mela
Photo Courtesy: Roshan Travel Photography

You can also find Aghoris in large number in the Kumbh Mela celebrations in India. They come in large numbers to take a holy dip in the rivers.

As said earlier, the sect of Aghora is also a state of mind. However, not all Aghori sadhus are similar; some even might look like any other ascetic. Overall, their path to attaining liberation is the same.

In a world which is a pot-pourri of mysteries; it is no surprise to find such a community which is opposite to what we call 'a Normal Life'. However, the question is, are we the so-called ordinary people, Really Normal?

Read more about: varanasi, uttar pradesh
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