Do Aghoris really have sex with dead bodies?
The most feared and the most respected clan of Sadhus or ascetics of India, the Aghori sadhus are notorious for their uncommon and grisly rituals they perform as a part and parcel of their religious routine, enough to arouse curiosity and are among the public. Aghori Sadhu is associated with cannibalism, rituals using human skulls and making love to corpses. But is there more to them then what meets the eye? Let’s find out…
Where do Aghoris live?
Dark skinned Shiva followers dressed in black clothes, with long black hair, are easy creatures to spot. They are so obviously drunk and drugged that they can barely stand, yet their eyes seem calm and sober. Besides living by ritual burning areas, Aghoris also live in remote places far from the public: in the cold caves of the Himalaya, in the jungles of Bengal where tigers reign, or in the bare, empty, hot deserts of Gujarat where no living creature survives.
The Aghori belief
Aghoris worship Shiva or Mahakala – the destroyer, or its female manifestation: Shakti or Kali, the goddess of death. According to what Aghori Meronath from Varanasi told photographer and writer Davor Rostuhar, “Each deity in Hinduism is just one manifestation of the same God. Different orders worship different deities, thus satisfying all manifestations of God. But what Shiva and Kali demand from their followers is not acceptable to most people. Thus Aghoris are the only ones willing to please them. ”
Aghoris believe that it is Goddess Kali who actually demands satisfaction through meat, alcohol, and sex. All three things are banned for other sadhus. To eat meat actually means to eat everything. To have no limits, because all is one. By eating anything, Aghoris try to gain awareness of the oneness of everything and eliminate discrimination. Therefore they consume feces, human fluids, and human flesh. Like other saddhus, they live in celibacy, but with one exception….
As per the Aghoris, when the goddess Kali demands satisfaction in sex, they then have to find an appropriate corpse and have sexual intercourse with it. In his interview with Davor Rostuhar, Meronath says “The reason why we do things that seem outrageous to the outside world is actually simple. To find purity in the filthiest! If an Aghori manages to remain focused on God even during sex with a corpse or while eating a human brain, then he is on the right way.”
An unimaginable union
Aghoris have another very specific and highly secretive ritual for sexual intercourse. The ritual explains that sex in the midst of the dead can give rise to supernatural powers. In the dead of the night, in a graveyard, amidst the strewn ashes of the cremated, the Aghori clans unite to perform this ritual. The women involved in this act are smeared with the ashes of a departed, and the consummation is carried out along the beats of drums and recitation of mantras.
Lesser known facts about Aghori Sadhus
So, below is the list of odd and amazing facts about the lives of these Aghori Sadhus, a sect of people who revere and relish what we usually dread – Death.
An Aghori does not hold hate in his heart
They believe that one who hates cannot meditate. Sharing food with dogs and cows does not sound repulsive to them, rather it is how they eat their meals – alongside the animals which frequent cremation grounds, out of the same bowl. It is their belief that if they were to start worrying about insignificant things like animals dirtying their food, they would not be able to focus on their higher aims of meditating and becoming one with Lord Shiva.
…or the burial ground. His life centers around it and he lives there night and day. Ash is the cloth for Aghoris as was used by Lord Shiva. As his child, the Aghori must use it as well. Being made from the 5 elements, ash is essential to protect him from disease and mosquitoes. His constant state is to be one with Lord Shiva, and he starts to do this by imitating his physical appearance. Nothing can give them more pleasure than to be in this state.
This is the first thing he must procure from the floating corpses of holy men in rivers where they are laid to rest. After he receives the magical incantation from his guru, he starts his life as an Aghori, eating the remnants of the dead and bathing in the icy waters of the Ganga. The fire pit is his temple and the abode of ghosts and evil spirits his home.
Meditation at the cremation ground
At night, when people do not go near cremation grounds for fear of ghouls and phantoms, he meditates in peace. Breaking the rules between the clean and the unclean, the pure and the impure is the way in which he hopes to gain magical powers to cure and heal.
Profanity is the route to Liberation
For one Dhuniwale Bhaba cursing in an utterly profane manner for virtually no reason. An incident reveals that when a man approached the baba seeking blessings regarding his daughter’s wedding, the baba cursed the man using utter obscenities. After three days the man approached the baba again with sweets stating that baba’s blessings solved his problem. The Dhuniwale Bhaba is also notorious for throwing feces on people and the most awful fact is that people are very contented with his ‘prasad’ and some even take it home.
The nasty appetite
The Aghori are well known for their extremely revolting appetite. Their food habits include whatever a civilized human being will not eat at any cost, such as foods from the dump site, feces, urine and putrefying human corpses. But they seem to have their own reasons for their nasty appetite. Consumption of excreta is said to kill ego and derail the human perception of beauty, which is essential for a man to lead his life as an Aghora.
To the surprise and awe of the scientists all over the world, The Aghoras claim they have medicines that can treat some of the most stubborn diseases. These medicines called ‘human oils’ come from burning the human body collected from the burning pyre. The babas claim that these medicines are very effective in curing all the diseases but are not used in modern medicine due to ethical considerations. However, the authenticity of their claim has never been tried and tested by the scientific community.
Tantric powers and Black magic
The healing powers of Aghori Sadhus are said to come from their expertise in Black magic. What they say about these practices is that they never use their powers for harmful deeds. Instead, they absorb the diseases that plague the victims who visit them into their bodies and eliminate the diseases by burning them using Black magic. Certain Aghori who intensely practice Black magic say the more they please Lord Shiva and goddess Kali, the more they gain powers.
The ‘left way’ to reach god
While the whole world follows the right way to reach god, these sadhus proudly assert that they follow the ‘left way’ to reach god which is far quicker than the former. According to them, true godliness lies in seeking the ‘purity of the filthiest’. One of those sadhus says they are true Aghoras if they were able to concentrate on god while performing the most perverted acts.
Mantras and Marijuana
No Aghora would ever abstain himself from smoking Marijuana because they believe it is marijuana that helps them concentrate on religious mantras and the strenuous yogic practices they perform by routine. In spite of being under the effect of marijuana all the time, they appear very sober and calm. When asked by curious visitors that whether they consume weed for pleasure, they abruptly deny the assertion. The delusion and hallucinations provided by weeds are taken as religious ecstasies and heightened spiritual experiences.
What’s your take?
Are the Aghoris cannibals who do not shy from necrophagy in any form or are they demigods capable of unleashing and controlling the power of spirits? Or are they really just men who live their lives in a reality impossible to be understood by us?