Located deep in India there is a religious sect that carries on with rituals and a belief system that sounds as if it is straight out of an Eli Roth movie, a good Eli Roth movie…well, you get the picture. In this area lives the Cannibal Aghori Monks of India whose beliefs are based around Hinduism, but, the mainstream Hindu people universally denounces the group. While they share the same basic beliefs as modern-day Hindus, the Aghori Monks have one major difference, they are cannibals. And that one sensationalist word doses a great disservice to the strength of their beliefs. However, there is actually more to the Aghori Monks than their grotesque practice.
There have been many depiction of cannibals in popular culture. Hannibal Lector of the film Silence of the Lambs is one of the most popular. And all throughout Greek mythology there were dozens of people who were devoured piece by piece.
In this day and age, it is difficult to imagine that cannibalism still exists in the remote parts of the world. Which brings us to the cannibal monks of India, known as the Aghori. They reside near Varanasi, North India, which is not too far from the Ganges River.
While the Aghori Monks do practice cannibalism, there is so much more to these often marginalized people. From their deep belief in mysticism to their grisly post-mortem practices (which goes beyond simply eating the dead). Here are a few interesting facts about this truly intriguing and frightening tribe.
No Part is Wasted in the Act of Cannibalism
The people who live along the Ganges River will often throw bodies of the deceased into the river for various reasons. Efforts are made to weigh down the corpses to prevent the Aghori from pulling them back out, but sometimes that doesn’t work. The monks will pull the bodies from the river and utilize every piece of the body. They will transform human skulls into bowls, carve various bones into jewelry and the reasoning behind his practice ties back to their ancient beliefs.
In Shaivism, practitioners devote themselves to the Hindu god Shiva. Their goal is to break the cycle of reincarnation and achieve transcendence. The Aghori use cannibalism to embrace death and reject Earthly attitudes and customs, which they believe will help them become an incarnation of Shiva. These extreme methods have led to the Aghori being ostracized by other Hindus.
They Use Human Ashes to Embrace Death
In order to successfully transcend their Earthly bodies, the Aghori belive that they must face death and decay head on. Because of this, they have been known to gather human ashes from cremation grounds and smear them all over their bodies from head to toe. It is believed that , along with bringing them closer to Shiva, this process will protect them from any further disease. Afterwards, the Aghori meditate and pray.
Their Homes are Located Around Cemeteries and Cremation Sites
The Aghori live either in or close to old cemeteries, near crematoriums and within walking distance to many ghats (stone steps where bodies are dumped into the Ganges). it is said to be purely because of economic reasons; since they use the dead bodies and human remains in their rituals. And it just makes sense that they live close to their major food source.
They Swear Like a Sailor Because Of their “Religion”
The Aghori monks swear by the idea that utilizing swear words in their everyday language will bring them closer to spiritual enlighten. Occasionally going on multi-swear tirades, the Aghori believe that there should be no taboos in life and that we should be as connected with our true selves as possible.
They Worship Shiva, the Destroyer
Shiva is more than the name of the zombie-eating tiger on “The Walking Dead”, The Aghori have a deep devotion to their god which is one of the main causes for their radical acts. Shiva is often referred to as “The Auspicious” and “The Destroyer”. While there are many other devotees to Shiva all around the world, the Aghori has formed their own tribe due to their belief in a non-duality nature of mankind. This means that there are no “pure” or “impure” form of humanity, but it is rather one and the same. Therefore, human nature is comprised equally of the positive (worship and love) and negative (devouring human entrails and waste).
Drugs and Alcohol are an important part of their culture
While this may cause some people to believe that the Aghori tribe may be pretty fun to hang out with, do keep in mind that they EAT PEOPLE. The Aghori are not happy with confronting death head-on just by placing human ashes on their bodies, no they like to take things one step further when connecting on a spiritual level. They will often smoke marijuana and consume alcohol almost constantly in order to achieve a “disconnected” sense of spirituality. Being in this high and altered state allows them to feel as if they are not grounded and not quite part of the world, bringing them closer to Shiva.