Hindus around the world shall be celebrating Maha Shivaratree on the 28th of February 2014. As the day approaches flock of beautiful pictures, ryhthmic stotras and mantras will flow on the social networks. One of the most popular pictures would be, I’m sure, that of the Aghori sadhus.
Who are Aghori sadhus?
Aghori sadhu with skullAghoris trace their origin to Kina Ram, an ascetic from/around the 18th century. Lord Dattatreya in a spiritual apparition blessed Kina Ram with clairvoyance and established a guru-disciple relationship. Lord Dattatreya is the incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, united in one physical body. In the initial appearance to Kina Ram, Lord Dattatreya offered him a part of his own flesh as prasad and thus blessed him with spiritual powers.
Aghoris seek liberation from punarjanma (cycle of birth-rebirth). The Aghori sadhus dwell in cremation grounds, bath in the ashes of human remains, would eat anything from rotting human flesh… Things that the common man cannot perceive. Aghoris believe in getting into total darkness & then realizing into the self. They blur the lines between good and evil, pure and impure; without another, none would exist.
To the Aghori, the soul is Shiva, but covered by ashtamahapasha (eight great nooses/bonds); Ghrina (hate/disgust), Lajjaa (shame), Bhaya (fear), Shankha (doubt), Jugupsaa (censure/reproach), Kula (caste), Jaati (creed) and Sheela (Modesty). The practices of Aghoris are centered around the removal of these nooses. Sadhana in cremation grounds destroys fear; sexual practices with certain riders and controls help release one from sexual desire; being naked destroys shame etc. On release from all the eight bonds the soul becomes Sadashiva and obtains Moksha (liberation).
Aghoris base their beliefs on two principles common to broader Shaiva beliefs: that Shiva is perfect (having omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence) and that Shiva is responsible for everything that occurs – all conditions, causes and effects. Consequently, everything that exists must be perfect and to deny the perfection of anything would be to deny the sacredness of all life in its full manifestation, as well as to deny the Supreme Being.
Next time you come across a post or picture of Aghoris on social networks, ponder over the essence and teachings of Aghoris.