Aghori


Aghori

The Aghori are a Hindu sect believed to have split off from the Kapalika order (which dates from 1000 AD) in the fourteenth century AD. [ [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9842124/from/RL.4/ Indian doc focuses on Hindu cannibal sect] , MSNBC]

Doctrines

Aghori ascetics, while being devotees of the Hindu God Shiva, are monists who adhere to the common Hindu belief in liberation (moksha) from the cycle of reincarnation (samsara). This liberation is a realization of the self's identity with the absolute. Because of this monistic doctrine, the Aghoris maintain that all opposites are ultimately illusory. The purpose of embracing pollution through various practices is the realization of non-duality through transcending social taboos, and seeing the illusory nature of all conventional categories.

In essence, Aghoris base their beliefs on two principles. First, that Lord Shiva is perfect. Second, that Shiva is responsible for everything; every rock, tree, animal, and even every thought. Due to this, everything that exists must be perfect, and to deny the perfection of anything would be to deny the Gods.

History

Although akin to the Kapalika ascetics of medieval Kashmir, with whom there may be a historical connection, the Aghoris trace their origin to Kina Ram, an ascetic who is said to have lived 150 years, dying during the second half of the eighteenth century. [cite book | last = Parry | first = Jonathan P. | title = Death in Banaras | publisher = Cambridge University Press | date = July 1994 | url = http://www.cambridge.org/uk/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521466253 | isbn = 0521466253 ] Kina Ram is thought to have been an incarnation of the Hindu god Shiva, as have been each of Kina Ram's successors.

Symbols

The Aghori ascetic is himself a symbol of the God Shiva. He goes naked or wears the shroud of a corpse, he covers himself in the ashes of the cremation ground--which would be polluting for an orthodox Brahmin--and his ritual practices are symbols of his non-dualistic beliefs. The corpse upon which he meditates is a symbol of his own body and the corpse devouring ritual is a symbol of the transcendence of his lower self and a realisation of the greater, all pervading self.

Adherents

Due to the secrecy of this religious sect, no official figures are available. At the end of the nineteenth century there were an estimated two or three hundred Aghori ascetics in Varanasi, though now there are perhaps as few as twenty living in their main centre.

Headquarters

The main akhada of Aghoris is Kina Ram's hermitage or ashram in Varanasi. Kina Ram's samadhi is a centre of piligrimage for aghoris and aghori devotees. Here Kina Ram is buried in a tomb or samadhi which is a centre of pilgrimage for Aghoris and Aghori devotees.Another centre is Aghor Sodh Sansthan, Ravindrapuri, Varanasi. Apart from this, any cremation ground would be a holy place for an Aghori ascetic.

Cannibalism

The Aghori distinguish themselves from other Hindu sects and priests by their alcoholic and cannibalistic rituals. The corpses afloat on the river Ganges are pulled out and consumed raw as the Aghoris believe it gives them immortality and supernatural powers. [ [http://newsfromrussia.com/world/2005/10/27/66369.html Indian cannibal sect eats human corpses, believing it give them supernatural powers] ] [ [http://www.channel4.com/life/microsites/K/kumbhmela/plgrm_agoris.html The Aghoris] , Channel 4]

Notes

References

*Dhallapiccola, Anna. "Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend". ISBN 0-500-51088-1
* Svoboda, Robert. "Aghora: At the Left Hand of God". ISBN 0-914732-21-8

External links

* [http://philtar.ucsm.ac.uk/encyclopedia/hindu/devot/aghoris.html Division of Religion and Philosophy St. Martin's College: Aghoris]
Orientalist Sensationalism


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