Hindu ascetics who indulge in taboo practices, such as cannibalism and necrophilia

18th century - present

member of the Aghori cult holding a skull

Member of the Aghori cult

In the diverse world of Hinduism, the Aghori, who believe that they must break free from society's norms and barriers to reach a higher state of consciousness and understanding, stand out as one of the most fascinating and unusual sects.

Some of the most unique practices among the Aghori involve their extreme fascination with death. They believe that being close to death in this way helps them overcome fear and understand the deeper truths of life, so they often meditate in places where bodies are cremated, and they use human skulls as bowls. They also often smear their bodies with ashes from cremation fires to challenge typical ideas of what is pure and impure. Most shockingly, they engage in ritual cannibalism, believing it will help them to embrace all aspects of life, including those that are usually seen as impure or scary. They believe that practices like these will help them break free from the normal rules of society and get closer to spiritual liberation.

Their lifestyle is also quite different from most people. Many Aghori choose to live away from towns and cities, often in or near cremation grounds. They live a life of extreme simplicity, with very few possessions, and often alone, to help them focus on their inner journey towards enlightenment.

The way society views the Aghori is quite varied. In India, where they are most commonly found, people often look at them with a mix of fear, curiosity, and respect. The unusual nature of their practices has led to many misunderstandings and exaggerations in the media and popular culture. However, beneath the sensational stories, there is a deep philosophical aspect to their beliefs.

Despite their extreme practices, the Aghori are not completely removed from societal concerns. In fact, many use their knowledge to help people, such as offering treatments for illnesses using traditional methods, demonstrating that there is room for compassion and service, even within their unconventional lifestyle.

The path of the Aghori is not an easy one. It requires great mental strength and dedication but is rooted in their quest for enlightenment. While their methods may be extreme, they represent a significant and fascinating part of the broad tapestry of Hindu spiritual practices.

Religion: Hinduism

Denomination: Shaivism

Founder: Baba Keenaram

Founded: 18th century

Size: 70

Location: India

Other info:

Written by Agasthyan A.D.,a renowned Aghori practitioner and spiritual teacher, this book offers a detailed exploration of the Aghori path, including its history, philosophy, rituals, and techniques.

Drawing from his extensive knowledge and personal experiences, the author provides a practical and accessible introduction to this ancient spiritual tradition.

Whether you are a spiritual seeker, a practitioner of other spiritual paths, or simply interested in learning more about the Aghori way of life, this book has something to offer.

With its clear explanations, insightful reflections, and practical exercises, “The Aghori - A Brief History of India's Most Mystical and Misunderstood Sect” is a valuable resource for anyone interested in exploring this fascinating spiritual path.

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Is a vibrantly colored collage of varied experiences that the protagonist, Subraiya or Subbu as he is fondly addressed as goes through. Subbu’s extremely deep and earnest desire to know more about the Aghori Sadhus / Babas becomes the basis of this most unique and indelible journey of adventures and experiences.

The book is not just a story but an opportunity for the reader to experience an exuberant expedition that incorporates different and diverse activities which are spiritual, intriguing, ethereal and at times, frightening!

Aghori-an untold story has been written in an autobiographical form with the intense intent of the author to make the reader feel that he or she is part of all the adventures and experiences. I believe that it is completely up to the reader or a better word would be the ‘viewer’ to infer whether the story of Subbu and his journey with the Aghoris is fiction or reality!

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CNN documentary on the Aghori