The Aghoris and their frightening lifestyle

The Aghoris and their frightening lifestyle

Aghoris are Hindu ascetics. They follow the Tantric sect (a non-Puranic form of Shaivism) from India that performs post-mortem rituals with human bodies. They worship the Bhairava form of Lord Shiva (the Hindu God of destruction). They consider Shiva as the Supreme God. The Aghoris and their frightening lifestyle create curiosity among the public.

Aghoris are rare. Most of the time they are seen around the cremation grounds in places like Varanasi or during religious ceremonies like Kumbh Mela (Kumbh Mela is the biggest religious event in the whole world) or in special temples in India. The bank of the Ganges in Varanasi is one of the holy places to discover the Aghoris and their way of living.

The Aghoris and their frightening lifestyle
Aghoris in Varanasi (pic- Swadesi)

The word Aghori is derived from the Sanskrit word “Aghora” which means fearless. Aghoris are Shaivite sadhus. They are devotees of Lord Shiva. They have achieved the status of the most feared sadhus in India. They are also respected a lot.

Origin of the Aghoris

The Keenaram temple in the city of Varanasi, India is the most sacred site for Aghoris. This temple was constructed after the death of Baba Keenaram who was buried in the holy city of Varanasi. Baba Keenaram was a 17th-century ascetic who is said to have lived for about 170 years. He was the first Aghori.

Conduct of the Aghoris

The practices of the Aghoris are extreme and are often disapproved of by Hindus. In the eyes of the common man, their rituals are strange. They are also known to perform black magic, not to harm anyone. They have no hate in their heart for anyone.

They cremate the dead bodies. They cover themselves in recently cremated human ashes as they believe the holy ash is the last and purest state of everything. They claim that they can cure all diseases. They meditate on the dead body.

The Aghoris and their frightening lifestyle
Aghori smoking (pic- The Hindu)

They smoke marijuana and drink alcohol. They use the skull (or Sanskrit-  ‘Kapala’) as a bowl after the cremation of the dead body. In some cases, they also eat the flesh of the deceased. They are also known to eat faeces and drink urine. They do not see the difference between clean and dirty. They share their food with animals such as cows or dogs. All life is the same for them.

Aghori (pic- The Sun)

They are half or fully naked representing an actual human. It shows their detachment from this material world. They do not feel any shame in their nudity.

They engage in sexual intercourse with the dead in the cemetery, accompanied by chanting and drumming in the background. The purpose of the act is to attain supernatural powers and experience spirituality.


The rituals the Aghoris follow are part of their belief system. These practices are considered contradictory to orthodox Hinduism. They conduct such practices to attain Moksha (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth).

Have you ever come in contact with Aghoris? Are their practices and beliefs justified in any way? One can also visit the holy city of Varanasi and find out more about the Aghoris.


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  1. These individuals always fascinated me. Neat read. I think the intent may be to be beyond the world but the ego clings to the images-things-forms in liquor and drugs. Interesting mix. Ultimately, we want to forgive the world, being passer-by, to move beyond it.


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