Just a few moments ago, I read this short description about Hindu Cannibals, on a facebook page, that inspired me to jot down some information on my blog too!
Historically, there is a tribe of ‘Ascetic Sadhus’, who are known for their extremities. They are called cannibals by some, while some view them as dirty sect which destroys the image of Hinduism in the world. They are believed to be devotees of ‘Shiva’. They are supposed to possess miraculous healing power, and some even heal the person by cursing him.
There is a 1000 year old Hindu sect, that challenges traditional religious beliefs and follows an eccentric and quirky path to enlightenment, they are known as ‘The AGHORIS’.
‘If an ‘Aghori Baba’ curses you, that means your problems will end soon!’ – claim some people who are believers and followers of such sadhus. Some Sadhus even throw their faeces in anger on their devotees, who collect it and take is home in the form of ‘prasaad’ (holy food)!
In ‘Kumbh-Mela’ in Ahemdabad, that occurs every 12 years, there come 100 Sadhus to have ‘snaan’ (holy bath), and out of 100, only 99 are supposed to return, one drowns himself in the river to return back to his abode. Every person is considered to be ‘Shava’ (a dead body with emotions), and we are supposed to free ourselves from the materialistic bonds and attractions, and become ‘Shiva’ (deny human pleasures and comforts, and adopt Aghori life!)
Lord Shiva is seen as an Aghori, while some historians claim it to be false. Shiva adopted tapasya (sacrifice of human pleasures) and attained gyan (wisdom). An Aghori is believed to live in a cemetery and many of them roam around naked representing true human life. Sometimes they clothe themselves in the clothes they collect from the dead bodies. They usually carry a cup or bowl made from the human skull, and can eat anything! By anything, I literally mean anything they come across, rotten food, food from dumps, animal urine, animal faeces etc. They regularly perform rites to attain knowledge and wisdom, to enlighten themselves. They rub the ashes of dead human corpse on their bodies, and the final part of the ritual requires minimum of one eating the human flesh and meditating on a human corpse. This is a symbol for their rise from Shava to Shiva!
Aghoris are flesh eaters and alcohol consumers, unlike the other Hindu priests. They eat human flesh (at least once) to gain supernatural powers and power of being immortal and to stop ageing! According to them, they are destined to live such a life and impress the Gods and Devi’s, by offering them human flesh. They perform certain rituals before consuming human flesh. Although the Hindus ceremonially cremate their dead, but sometimes, the bodies are disposed of in the holy river of ‘Ganges’, and they float and reach banks of the river. The Aghoris sometimes collect the bodies, perform rituals and eat the flesh. They eat vital organs in a hope to gain power to immortality.
The Aghoris have to eradicate thoughts of dichotomy, between pure and impure, good and bad, right and wrong. Everything is sacred according to them, and the universe resides within them. Their soul is their universe, and so they adopt some bizarre methods to enlighten themselves and attain supreme wisdom!
Although there have been many debates about Aghoris being cannibals, some documentaries show the truth behind cannibalism residing in Hinduism, while some Hindu activists have declared the Aghoris to be an isolated sect, and they don’t consider them to be Hindus.
The Aghori Baba in the image is shown drinking something in a cup made from ‘human skull’, and on the other side, the Aghori baba, with ashes from the corpse, smeared all over his face.
That was, My Take On: Aghori Babas: Hindu Cannibals?