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The Aghoris are a small group of Hindu ascetics who belong to the Shaivite sect. The devotees in the Shaivite sect consider Lord Shiva as their supreme deity. The Aghoris are known for their extreme and unconventional practices, which involve the use of human ashes, animal sacrifices, and other taboo rituals.
Several of their rituals and practices not only seem unappealing to the masses, but at times they seem absolutely terrifying to ordinary folks, such as doing meditation while sitting over a dead human body or living on cremation grounds!
The word "Aghor" denotes the transcendence of darkness and impurity to reach a state of enlightenment and divine consciousness. The Aghoris believe that everything in the world is interconnected, and that the divine can be found in everything, including the impure and the taboo. Aghoris believe that it is easy to embrace that which is appealing. But the divine essence is in everywhere and in everything- even the dark and the taboo. By embracing the dark and impure aspects of life, one can overcome them and attain spiritual enlightenment.
The term "Aghori" is used to describe such ascetics who reject common societal norms and conventional religious practices to seek the divine in everything, including the dark and impure aspects of life.
For e.g. most people common people fear the cremation grounds. They fear death and do not want to address their own impending reality. After all, there is one truth that we all know and that is- one day, we will all die. And yet, people are scared of death and refrain from facing this glaring reality. But Aghoris don’t fear death. Infact, many of them live on cremation grounds and amongst the dead and burning bodies. They constantly remind themselves that all that we hold dear… our material world one day, is going to come to end and the ‘real truth’ of our material existence is death- which cannot be denied.
Aghori ascetics often live in cremation grounds or in remote areas, where they meditate and perform rituals. These Aghoris face reality of life and the very nature of our existence (which is transitory) and their deepest fears, addressing them one by one, so they can peel off the layers of incorrect thinking and deepest mental darkness.
The Aghoris are known for their nakedness, ash-smeared bodies, and long matted hair, which they believe symbolize their rejection of societal norms and conventions.
One of the most controversial practices of the Aghoris is the consumption of human flesh and other taboo substances. However, it is important to note that not all Aghoris practice these extreme rituals, and many follow a more moderate approach to attain spiritual enlightenment.
Also, people believe that their dedication to their spiritual practice and maintaining of distance from our materialistic world, offers them a clearer path of their own devotion and their liberation. There is a common belief, that Aghoris have supernatural powers and the ability to perform miracles.
In reality, when people perform deep spiritual practices, they tend to have access to many more latent energetic powers within our human system and also the ability to connect with and access the cosmic powerhouse. When such a spiritual ascetic exhibits what would be ‘normal’ actions for them, they would be perceived by the common people as often magical or even miraculous.
To recap, Aghoris are a small group of Hindu ascetics who belong to the Shaivite sect and are known for their extreme and unconventional practices. While their practices may seem shocking and controversial to commoners, they are revered by many who see them as someone who is dedicated to the Divine principle and is leading a spiritual pious and austere life to transcend the limitations of our spiritual world and attain nirvana- enlightenment.