Who are Aghoris?
Most of us have heard of Aghoris and the common knowledge that is prevailing is that they are tantric practitioners who perform very strange rituals that shock the normal people who are horrified when they hear some of the tantric practices that involve corpses, dead bodies, feces, burial grounds, sexual intercourse with dead bodies and cannibalism.
However, since they deal with spirits and indulge in some grisly acts, they are also highly feared while they also arouse deep curiosity in common people with varying reactions from all the people who learn of these practices.
The routines are religious in nature but the rituals are far from normal religious practices; they are a bit on the unbelievable side due to the mystique surrounding them.
In short, the Aghori sadhus are associated with weird grisly and even disgusting rituals that may involve decayed fecal matter, indulging in the sex act with decayed and burnt corpses, cannibalizing the corpses even when they are half burnt, having sexual intercourse with the dead bodies, rituals involving skulls, spirits and corpses.
These followers of Bhairava another manifestation of Lord Shiva are dressed in black while they are themselves dark-skinned and sport long black hair.
The main feature of these Aghoris is that they are almost always under the influence of drugs or hard liquor. Their eyes seem to be stable and at peace with the world.
There are various stories about their habitats. The general concept is that they avoid human habitations and stay is secluded, hidden places away from the prying eyes of the curious human beings. They dwell near cremation grounds or the jungle areas where they conduct their weird rituals far from human presence.
That is why they chose to stay in the frosty wilderness of the Himalayas concealing themselves in caves or other hidden enclaves.
They were also residing the tiger-infested jungles of West Bengal as also in the hot deserts of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
The basic idea is to avoid human company while they meditate and go into trances in their religious pursuits.
Aghoris worship Bhairava another form of Shiva or Mahakala or the female version Shakti or Mahakali, the destroyer, or its female manifestation who is the goddess of death, Shakti or Kali.
While the Hindu philosophy considers each deity as a manifestation of another and the effort is to worship all forms of the gods and goddesses thus satisfying all deities.
But, the religious demands of both Lord Shiva and the goddess Kali are not just ordinary ones; their requirements are specific and unchangeable. Here the role of the aghories is vital since they are the only ones who are willing to go out of the way of comforts and undergo the hardships that will please Kali and Lord Shiva (manifested as Bhairav)
The Divine Satisfaction
According to the Aghor philosophy, the ferocious goddess Kali is so intense and demanding that ordinary gifts will not appease her. She can only be appeased by the offerings of Meat, blood, sex and alcohol.
These things are normally not available to most of the other sadhus who are vegetarian and teetotalers.
The Aghori ideology sees everything as one and in this quest to perceive the oneness of even banned items like feces, or human flesh or liquids which they consume to appease their deities.
In their oneness theory they feel that they cannot discriminate against waste matter too.
Sex Rituals to Appease Deities
The fiery Goddess Kali is not an easy deity to please; according to Aghoris, the most difficult practices have to be performed so that the great Goddess can be satisfied.
Some consume gore and feces, some get their apertures sexually exploited by dried fecal tools, while most of them have to find a corpse and copulate with it. They are thus looking for show their oneness with vilest acts and the use of the filthiest things since their only aim is to remain lost in the lord overlooking all these dirty distractions without getting the sense of revulsion that may break their focus.
The Sex Act
Sexual intercourse has a very prominent place in the Aghoris’ way of life but they are quite secretive and conducted amid much fanfare and the beating of drums and chantings of some powerful mantras; and, all these acts are performed amid the presence of the dead and their spirits.
During sex, the females are penetrated with the genitals of the males and also with penis-like appendages made of dried up feces.
The belief is that smearing the ashes of the dead and copulating in the midst of the dead provides awesome supernatural powers to the practitioners of the sex act.
The rules of copulation during these rituals quite strict and unrelenting and require that:
- The women taking part in this ritual should be menstruating since blood and sex satisfy the Goddess,
- The woman in question should be penetrated for almost an hour,
- She should be a willing partner in this grisly sex act without any negative feelings, the men cannot ejaculate till the ritual and its mantras are over,
- The participants in this sex act should be in a state of trance.
Supernatural powers are received after the satisfaction of the goddess and the lord whom the participants are impersonating.
Other Principles of the Aghori sect
- Aghoris do not fear the dead,
- They do not harbor grudges or hate,
- To become confirmed Aghoris, they should possess a kapal or skull purified by mantras which is their identification,
- They are then allowed to eat corpses,
- They do not kill for eating flesh,
- Marijuana is a regular habit,
- They practice tantric rituals and prepare strange medications.
Thus, it can be seen that even though we may not agree or understand the basics of this secluded, reclusive sect of sadhus, just knowing about their practices can lead to some understanding of these people and their faith.