Aghori–the one who has no fear; fearless of darkness, of impurity and of all things that are ‘not human’–that is how an Aghori lives his life. The term ‘Aghori’ is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘aghora’ which means an easy path, a path that redirects you to the force. Hence, an aghori lives his life different from the life that all humans lead– living in a samsara, a world, leading a difficult life (ghora) that runs within the circular restrictions of this world.
An aghori is an ardent devotee of Shiva- an ultimate force that is an epitomy of perfection, absolutism and is the one who encompasses within himself the birth and the death of the universe. And because Shiva does not differentiate, an aghori also aims to blur binaries and hierarchies created by the society with respect to caste, creed and religion that aim to differentiate between humans. He aims to erase the distinction between what is deemed as pure and impure by the society. His acute belief in Shiva draws him to indulge in gruesome acts that aren’t generally normalised seeing the extent of fanaticism involved. They are practicers of cannibalism and often indulge in acts deemed ‘impure’ like consuming their own excreta. By doing this, they believe, a mortal can rise from his state of shava to a state of shiva; traversing from a position of termination and mortality to a state of absolutism and perfection. Since religion forms a very integral part of the society, he aims to dismantle its foundation by blurring the line between holy and unholy. An aghori will always be found with ash smeared over his body that he sources from a shamshaan, directly taking them from burnt dead bodies. This is his way of emracing fearlessness and being one with the force of death.
The process of becoming an aghori from a mere mortal is one that involves various stages of projecting oneself to rigorous practices and henceforth emerging triumphant. It is said that it takes twelve years of meditation and a complete renunciation of the samsara to become an aghori. It is a journey of shedding all fear, beginning from the fear of being a mortal and hence, the fear of death. This is carried forward by taking the wood for their food from pyres, taking clothes off dead bodies and wearing them and having a human skull from which they consume all liquids.
Aghoris are extreme believers in how every human is a born aghori, but as they grow, they slowly get intertwined with rules, beliefs and hierarchies that the society dictates to them. This distances them from the simple being that is inside of them. To be an aghori is to live a simple life; to be free of all prejudices, to embrace the force and to be one with him–to be one with Shiva.