Amongst the Indian mesh of rituals and practices where dowry, honour killing, child marriage, exorcism etc. are seen as abhorrent, how would you react to the bestial practise of Cannibalism being prevalent in a holy nook of India?
Sure, India nurtures a vast plurality of rituals and practices but it is also the grounds for one of the most loathed, feared, grisly yet mystic practice of cannibalism.
This bizarre tribe of cannibal mystics in India known as the Aghori or Aghori sadhus are commonly found in North India along the Ganges river, especially in the sacred town of Varanasi.
The post contains marvellous pictures taken by an Italian photographer, Cristiano Ostinelli, who spent time with the tribe to portray their cannibalistic way of life.
Here is a low-down on this menacing culture that will make you cringe beyond imagination:
1. Aghoris are stern followers of Lord Shiva.
2. The Hindu cremation ground, a place of dismay and consternation, is home for the Aghori tribe. They believe in confronting death or decay.
3. Aghoris eat left over from human dead bodies on the banks of river Ganges. They drink in a bowl or a dish made of the human skull, called kappla. They consume rotten food and left-over food from garbage tins, animal’s faeces and urine.
4. The human flesh is cut from corpses and then either eaten raw, cooked over an open flame, or sometimes consumed in a putrid state.
5. As unbelievable as it may seem, chopping heads off animals for consumption and meditating on top of dead bodies in quest of spiritual enlightenment, is also known to this bizarre tribe.
6. You will usually find these sadhus with painted faces and clad in jewellery or trinkets made from human bone fragments, and some make use of walking sticks made from a human femur. They apply ash from the human pyre.
7. Interestingly enough, Aghoris are also constantly smoking marijuana, which they claim not to do for enhancing their concentration on the spiritual practices and rituals.
This radical way of life stems from stern belief that nothing is pure or impure. Aghoris believe in the non-dualistic nature of the universe and thus, oppose any form of discrimination. They believe that God is Omnipresent, be it cow dung or food, unholy or filthy.
While most of the above-listed practices may seem grotesque at the very thought of it, Aghoris believe that it helps slaughter our ego and become closer to God.
However, some people are known to exude great confidence in these monists for their healing powers. Aghori healers perform rituals in which they transfer illness, disease from the victim into themselves, after which they expel it through magical powers.
But we are left to wonder what encourages them to adopt this radical and fringe school of thought. Do they really attain enlightenment?
India is indeed a land of contrasts. Where on one hand we are advancing in leap and bounds, such stereotypes continue to thrive. While most of the civilized societies have frowned upon it, share with us your views about it.
Image Credits: Google