The Aghori sect in India is more than 500 years old and centers around the thought that if God created all things then nothing you touch or eat can make you spiritually impure. Actually, Aghoris eat leftovers from human dead bodies on the banks of river Ganges. They drink in a bowl made of a human skull.
There are certain rules one must follow to become an aghori. Firstly an Aghori must find a teacher and do what the teacher tells him to do. Secondly, an Aghori must find a human skull known as “kappala” and use only this as a ritual tool before initiation. An Aghori must apply a pyre on his body to symbolically show the nature of the Lord Shiva. The final part of ritual requires eating of rotten human flesh and also meditating sitting on a dead corpse. It symbolizes the rise from Savak (human nature) to Siva.
Religion scholar Reza Aslan, host of CNN’s “Believer,” a documentary series about spirituality around the globe, was accused of “Hinduphobia” and of mischaracterizing Hindus in an attempt to shed light on the Aghoris. In the episode, Aslan met up with a sect of Indian religious nomads outside the city of Varanasi in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. The Aghori persuaded Aslan to bathe in the Ganges, sacred river of the sect, than he drank alcohol from a human skull and ate what was supposedly to be a bit of human brain. And when the guru began to eat his own waste and hurl it at Aslan and his camera crew, the CNN host ran away.
“Want to know what a dead guy’s brain tastes like? Charcoal,” Aslan wrote on Facebook. “It was burnt to a crisp!”
In Hinduism, there are those who are considered “untouchables” and they are called “Dalit” in India. There are strict government laws that regulate their lives and spirituality. Untouchables are certain social groups confined to menial and despised jobs. The Dalit are forbidden to enter the homes of Indians who are considered of a higher caste and they aren’t allowed to marry outside of their caste because they would spiritually contaminate a faithful Hindu. The Aghori sect rejects this concept and some express their faith to an extreme because, according to their view, nothing can taint the human body.
Aslan also interviewed several non-cannibal Aghori practitioners but he has come in for a lot of criticism because critics thought the focus on the flesh-eating Aghori was inappropriate and done for the shock value. After “Believer” was broadcast, some viewers turned to Twitter to express their anger about the program. Shalabh Kumar, Indian American industrialist, was one of the loudest voices on social networks. “Disgusting attack on Hindus for supporting @POTUS,” Kumar tweeted. He also called for Hindus to boycott CNN.
Photo Credits: Enigma Channel