CNN has a new show that I recently watched a preview for. I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel about it until I watched a few different promotions for it. Then I knew exactly how I felt, disgusted. The use of shock and awe, the villianization of The Aghori’s beliefs and rituals, is an obvious attempt to draw viewers in based on sensationalism.
The Aghoris are devotees of Shiva manifested as “Bhairava” (a Hindu deity that translates to “frightful” and is associated with “annihilation”). It is believed that they have been around for over a 1,000 years.
They devote their entire lives to achieving “moksha” or liberation from reincarnation. They follow what some see as a radical path that many would find difficult and probably repugnant if they had to do it for what they believed in.
The Aghori believe that every person’s soul is covered by 8 Great Nooses or bonds, Sensual pleasure, Anger, Greed, Obsession, Fear and Hatred are the strongest of the eight. The Aghoris work to remove these bonds by Rituals. Rituals done in cremation grounds destroy fear, being naked destroys shame, they cover themselves in human ashes for protection from disease and are known to eat human feces and drink urine. (Other cultures also drink urine believing it has healing properties)
The Aghoris see no difference between good and evil or a difference between human and animal flesh. They never kill humans. They live near cremation grounds and take flesh from the dead.
Another large part of their culture is the use of the human skull. The skull is used as a bowl for all the Aghori and they share the bowl with animals. Some Aghoris believe that a person’s life force clings to the top of the skull and with certain offerings/gifts, usually alcohol, they can control the spirit.
During the preview for CNN’s show where the Host visits with a man who is supposedly well known within the Aghori sect. The show allows the Host to go through “rituals” before the Aghori will talk to him. They included bathing in a polluted river, raw sewage and covering himself with cremated remains.
At one point the Host tells the “Crew” that he isn’t comfortable and feels the situation has taken a turn, he doesn’t feel safe. The “Crew” tells him to keep going and not to worry about it. None of them realize how insulting they are to this man, his beliefs, and how he lives.
It isn’t until the Aghori turns his anger on the “Crew” throwing feces at them and threatening them that they decide to pull the plug and leave.
It is almost impossible to change a culture’s beliefs that have been around for thousands of years. Even if we find them abhorrent or ridiculous. If we have learned anything from History as far back as the Crusades it’s that there is one thing people are willing to die for. Religion.