Not many in India know about the the Aghoris, those who know keep a distance from them, since many consider them dangerous and a mirror image of Hindu Lord Shiva. They are suppose to live on the edge having renounced everything which is material and are general known as sadhus.
They are higher than any priest in the ladder of the Hindu varna system but their way of living scares away alot of people but none the less they are respected immensely in India.
The various activities of aghoris have a purpose of embracing pollution through various practices is nothing but the realization of non-duality through transcending social taboos, and seeing the illusory nature of all conventional categories. The Aghoris are not to be confused with the shivnetras, who are also ardent devotees of Shiva but do not indulge in extreme ritual worship practices known to some extent as Tamasic (rituals involving some or all of the following: meat eating, alcohol drinking, consumption of beverages and foods with opiates, hallucinogens and cannabis products as key ingredients, cannibalism, residing in cremation grounds, and Tantric sexual rituals). Although they enjoy close ties with the shivnetras, netras are a complete opposite of the aghoris and are purely Sattvic in nature and worship.
The Cannibalism in aghoris seems to be a major drawing point for many foreigners and researchers all across the globe. In essence, Aghoris base their beliefs on two principles: that Shiva is perfect and that Shiva is responsible for everything. Shiva is thought to be responsible for every rock, tree, animal, and thought. 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 deny God/Goddess and the demigods’ perfection. Aghoris eat any form of food and intoxicants, engage in a variety of sexual practices, ritually and otherwise, and also meditate on dead bodies for some rituals as prescribed in Hindu Tantric holy scriptures.
The Aghori ascetic is himself a symbol of the God Shiva in Shiva’s form as Bhairava. The main symbol which makes him distinct from other sadhus is the skull cup he uses as a begging bowl. He goes naked or wears the shroud of a corpse, covers himself in the ashes of the cremation ground and always has his hair disheveled or in matted dreadlocks. If an aghori uses a corpse as part of his ritual worship, the corpse upon which he meditates, it is a symbol of his own body and the corpse-devouring ritual is a symbol of the transcendence of his lower self and a realization of the greater, all pervading Self that is universal consciousness.
The three pronged trident staff in Tantric Hinduism, which aghoris follow, is a symbol representing the three constituents of which Shiva and/or Shakti first creates the universe: iccha shakti (power of will/desire/intention), jnana shakti (power of knowledge – the preconceived architectural design of the universe), and kriya shakti (the power of action).
Place to find Aghoris
In order to locate a aghori you need to be at the holiest of the places in India namely varanasi In Uttar Pradesh or on the sides of the Holy river Ganga , you could find them in Uttrakhand ( or Uttranchal as it is also know) , a state in northern India which boasts of the spiritual tourism in India. They reside on the fringes of the the human population, they are out of the limits of the cities but may wander sometimes into it for some amusement or food. Though most of them seem to be hostile but some of them are nice when you approach them. They can tell you alot about their customs and practices but still one would advice caution while talking to them. A certainly a mark of respect needs to be shown to them because you don’t want an angry aghori around you.
They have always mesmerized many people in and out side of India with their behavior and rituals. As people will keep on looking for path of uniting with god ,we would certainly find them amongst us for many millennium to come as they have existed since many millenniums.