The Aghori: Journey of towards Enlightenment

The Aghori, a sect with roots dating back a millennium, stand out as ascetics committed to achieving moksha, or liberation. Unlike traditional sadhus, these embark on a distinctive and radical path toward enlightenment, garnering both fear and respect in India. Let’s unravel the mysteries surrounding them and explore the unorthodox practices that define their spiritual journey.

Diving into Aghori Beliefs: A Concise Overview

The Aghori
In a cave near Badrinath, India, resides an Aghori. ( Source )

Tracing back to Baba Keenaram, a 17th-century ascetic, the Aghori sect reveres the Keenaram temple in Varanasi. These ascetics worship Shiva, the destroyer, and Shakti or Kali, the goddess of death. Their dwellings span from Varanasi’s cremation sites to the remote corners of the Himalayas, Bengal’s dense jungles, and Gujarat’s hot deserts.

According to their belief, liberation is attainable by embracing practices deemed taboo by orthodox Hinduism. They believe that these practices, when executed correctly, expedite spiritual progress. This path is not for the faint-hearted, as deviation from proper practice may tighten the binds to the wheel of existence.

Aghori Ritual Practices Unveiled: Exploring the Unthinkable

The Aghori
At Varanasi, India, one can observe a section of the sacred Manikarnika ghat cremation grounds from above. ( Source )

1. Embracing Cannibalism

Aghori practices include the notorious consumption of human flesh. Crucially, they don’t intentionally kill for it but consume corpses brought to cremation grounds. This act challenges distinctions, deeming them delusions that hinder spiritual development and affirming the their belief system.

2. Unorthodox Dietary Habits

Beyond cannibalism, Aghori engage in radical dietary habits, including drinking urine and consuming feces. These extreme practices aim to annihilate the ego and reshape perceptions of beauty.

3. Stripping Away Shame: The Naked Truth

Aghori reject conventional norms by shunning clothes, moving in loincloths, or even nude. This symbolizes overcoming shame, renouncing material attachments, and embracing a spiritual connection. They also smear themselves with ash, imitating Shiva for protection against diseases.

4. Aghori Skull: Symbol of Power

The human skull, or ‘kapala,’ holds paramount significance for the Aghori. Once initiated, an seeks this object, turning it into a bowl for consumption. This skull, shared with animals, represents the emulation of Shiva, who carried a severed head.

Unmasking Aghori Extremities

The Aghori’s unorthodox practices, notably cannibalism and the use of human remains, may seem extreme and unconventional. While they perceive these actions as a faster route to moksha, the majority of Hindus would find these rituals far too radical to embrace.

Concluding Thoughts

In conclusion, the Aghori tread a less-traveled path, challenging societal norms and spiritual conventions. While their practices may seem extreme, they underscore a unique approach to enlightenment, a stark contrast to mainstream Hinduism.

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