Authors warning:-……….. This article is graphic and not for the faint hearted or immature minds. I have authored it for my personal pleasure and disseminating knowledge to genuine seekers, matured adult minds alone. Thank you. Historically the Aghoris are a monist splinter group of Kapalika order dating back to 1000 AD. Many Hindu sects and schools of thought despise them because of their cannibalism. The rural folk hold them in high esteem because they believe that Aghoris have secret powers to heal and relieve illness and pain. The Aghori ascetics are devoted to Shiva and pursue singularly the concept of (moksha) or freedom from reincarnation and (samsara). Their method of attaining moksha is realization of the self' as one with the absolute, and thus by default they follow advaita phiolosophy, which maintains that all opposites are ultimately an illusion.
For an Aghori the Tamasic and the Sattvic gunnas are one, and inseprable, as a matter of principle and lifestyle. No food, no toxicant or no sexual practice is a taboo for an Aghori. Dead bodies are often eaten and also used as seats for meditation. It is said that the moment an Aghori Guru senses the imminence of his death, he announces his best student as his successor. The Master and the student then go to some secluded place, where when the Guru dies the successor eats the guru's dead body as a ritual and a belief that this way the Guru's powers shall pass on to the shishya. The sanctum sanctorum of all Aghoris is Akhada Kina Ram in Varanasi, and in the Ravindrapuri area of the same city they have their research and analysis wing, also called the shodhshala.
Most simply put Ghora means darkness as well as intense. Aghora on the other hand signifies light as well as gentle or easy. An Aghori is one who treads the way of light or takes the easy way. So in the first place we must understand that it is one of the most misunderstood terms. Why did it happen and how?
To understand this we need to understand another word. The word in reference is the word commonly used in rural India when referring to night soil and it never evoked any dirty connotation. In fact what it meant was a “parda” or a curtained place. Even today 'Khuss ki tatti' means a curtain made of 'Khuss grass'. A thick curtain made of this grass absorbs and retains moisture for a long time there by cooling the air around it. In the 18th and the 19th centuries the word was used by the sophisticated and cultured Indians when they referred to a facility, just as today it is considered civil to use wash-room or powder-room to refer to a facility. Over a period of time the word got in to common use, and became a word of the language of general public, it lost its real meaning, (that is a private and hidden place), but got perceptually associated with night soil. It is evident that the word's denotative and real meaning changed and its associated or connotative meaning took over, thereby permanently deleting the true meaning or essence of the word.
The same happened with the term Aghora or aghori. From its denotative meaning , 'that is a sadhu or a yogi following an unregimented yogic lifestyle', its connotative meaning,' that is a dirty unprincipled cannibal sadhu asoociated with whitchcraft and black tantra' became more common . Originaly Aghora was (and for a true Aghori it still is), a simplified yogic path, in following which the aim of a seeker was to transcend the pseudo-pure ritualistic and superstitious methods of sadhna or pursuit of divine as prescribed by the self claimed masters of Hinduism, the Brahmins. An Aghori’s method was to transcend these ritualistic and pseudo-pure barriers first. An aghori does not believe in the abusive system of any discrimination based on colour, creed or caste. He does not believe in a ritualistic bath before a prayer, as one can bathe even after one has prayed, prayer being the field of the mind and bathing that of body. Rather than a 'Havan Kund' of sandal wood even a funeral pyre is an aghora yogi’s 'Yajna Kund'. In the Indian mind set, specially the ritualistic Hindu one, a dead body is untouchable and impure. In Hinduism and most of the Indian subcultures, effected by Hinduism people will take a bath even after touching the dead body of their own parent who died a healthy death, not as a medical precaution but as a precaution against evil spirits and so on. An Aghori’s first goal is to transcend this big taboo about death and the dead, and any thing being pure and the impure. An Aghori starts his prayers by rubbing the ashes of a pyre and goes further in his resolve to conquer the natural fear of death and the dead by consuming the dead human flesh at least once, as a continual reminder of the fact that everyone has to die one day.
In yoga the eight Snares of life are, Lust, Anger, Greed, Delusion, Envy, Shame, Disgust and Fear which attach all human beings to the illusory world or the MAYA. An Aghori transcends all this by seeing the illusionary and momentary nature of life. The young and beautiful grow old, the living die, the best food is turned in to crap just over night, all flowers, all joys of life and all kinds of life wither away, so why consider one purer than another, pure or impure, everything shall whither away. Even a fruit put as an offering to God will rot and fill the temple with stench, if not passed off as 'Prasaad'. So an aghori's yoga is to transcend all that is considered ugly, bad or a taboo. 'Shamashan Tara' or the goddess of the cremation ground is the deity of this Yogi along with 'Shiva', the god of death. He has to reach such an awakened stage of enlightenment that when he sits in the cremation ground meditating on death and transitory nature of life, he visualises himself being consumed by the fire of the pyre.
But over a period of time as I said before, the meaning of Aghora has changed. As in India Sadhus are not registered, they don’t figure in any official record anywhere and can easily lose them selves in the oblivion. Being a sadhu or posing as one, has become a very regular feature, with criminals thugs and thieves. Posing as an Aghora is all the more popular, as the general public fears them thinking that they are masters of black magic and other tantric stuff, which they can use against them if they oppose them or displease them. Many a times cannibals become or pose as Aghoras and many a times Aghoris become compulsive cannibals, as it is free meat available and is one of the tastiest as well, as they say. Than there is the illegal Skelton trade on the banks of the Ganges, where a clean and complete human Skelton fetches around US $ 4000 and Aghoris are one of the most reliable clan to get such stuff.
So dont forget that the Aghoris could be a highly criminalised tribe with only a handful of them being genuine. The best thing to do is to avoid them because in any case a true Aghori by nature is solitary, and any one marketing himself as an aghori is either a fake or a hanky panky chracter who wants to hide his real self.