Why do Aghoris consume marijuana at some holy shrines? How is it linked with spirituality? How do th

अघोर (Aghor) word can be formed by adding a prefix ‘’ to the word घोर. अ+ घोर = अघोर. Just like other words in Hindi language; अहिंसा, अज्ञान, अधर्म and many more. In Hindi prefix ‘’ (Like prefix ‘un’ in English language) stands for ‘without’ and ‘घोर’ stands for the words like macabre, terrible and tough. I wonder how most of the people overlook this obvious fact.

See the usage of ‘’ in the words ‘अप्रसन्न, ‘अज्ञात’ and ‘असभ्य’. (One who is not happy- unhappy, one who is not known- unknown and the one who is not civilized- uncivilized respectively). See the usage of ‘घोर’ in the words ‘घोर कलियुग’, ‘घोर तपस्या’ and ‘घोर नरक’ (Terrible Kaliyuga, tough penance, macabre hell respectively). Easiest way to understand something is to understand the literal meaning of it’s name. I hope, by now you are able to infer what I want to say here. अघोर (Aghor) means something that is not macabre, not terrible, not severe, not grave, not extreme or not outrageous. Words like "Aghor", "Aughad", "Kapalik", "Aghori", "Aughar", "Awadhoot" means the same, which is simple and natural state of consciousness. [Source: http://aghorpeeth.org/aghor.html ] Take a real life example. All the time , If somebody wears extremely sophisticated clothes and makeup, we consider him a person who is spending too much of his/her energy, time and concentration upon such materialistic artifacts. We end up saying “This is extreme!” But, Aghoris are so simple and close to nature that they do not care for ethics created by the humans. For them even a decent person (according to us) is wasting too much energy and concentration on his/her appearance. For them wearing no clothes is like freedom from bonds created by human. For them it is a way to feel closer of nature. To the question Why do Aghoris consume marijuana at some holy shrines? First of all there is nothing like holy or impure for them. I will explain it later. What I found from various sources, no Aghori would ever abstain himself from smoking Marijuana because they believe marijuana helps them concentrate on the strenuous yogic practices they perform by routine. When asked by curious visitors that whether they consume weed for pleasure, they abruptly deny the assertion. The delusion and hallucinations provided by weeds are taken as religious ecstasies and heightened spiritual experiences. What about other things which seems bizarre to us? Profanity, being naked, use of human skull as a cup, cannibalism, and tantra-mantra. You can trace the school of Aghoris from this picture. [Source: Wikipedia]

Now is the time for bigger words. Well, Aghoris are devotees of Shiva manifested as Bhairava, are monists who seek moksha from the cycle of reincarnation or saṃsāra. Monism is the philosophical view that a variety of existing things can be explained in terms of a single reality or substance. That’s why Aghoris maintain that all opposites are identical and that the conventional distinctions between purity and impurity are ultimately illusory. In essence, Aghoris base their beliefs on two principles. First, that the gods are perfect. Second, that the gods are responsible for everything; every rock, tree, animal, and even every thought. Due to this, everything that exists must be perfect, and to deny the perfection of anything would be to deny the gods. For this reason, Aghoris are known to prove their faith by challenging pre-conceived notions of the grotesque, and find the beauty or perfection in such conventionally taboo notions as, for example, cannibalism.

Aghor is actually a high stage in seekers life when all rules are finished. It is the highest discipline, without any worldly discipline. Contrary to accepted practice for religious sects, Aghoris have no rules for eating, sleeping, cleanliness or wearing particular robes. For them there is no difference between the water in the gutter and the sacred water from the Ganges River. For them there is no difference between a diet of pure fruit and vegetables and the decayed flesh of dead animals. They are above good and bad. Aghoris believe that every person's soul is Shiva but is covered by bonds - duality, shame, sensual pleasure, anger, greed, obsession, fear and hatred. The practices of the Aghoris are centered around the removal of these bonds. Sadhana in cremation grounds destroys fear; sexual practices with certain riders and controls help release one from sexual desire; being naked destroys shame. On release from all the eight bonds the soul becomes sadashiva and obtains moksha. Are they benevolent? They encourage complete freedom in spiritual practice. Man is born free and should remain free. They believe that spiritual capacity should indeed be used to provide relief to the worldly people. However, it should be done in confidence, not with a great pomp and show. There primary goal is to uplift the common humanity and in particular, support and care for the neglected and destitute people. Aghoris themselves don’t want to be in the limelight. Aghoris are not interested in spreading the name or expanding the influence of his tradition. They are against the polarization of the humanity caused by faith, religion, race, culture or geography. Freedom is what they seek. Aghoris believe in complete freedom: freedom from hypocrisy, freedom from hatred, envy and pettiness, freedom from desire, freedom from ego, freedom even from scriptures. Their History. Aghoris believe the Hindu deity Dattatreya as a predecessor to the Aghori Tantric tradition. Dattatreya was believed to be an incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva united in the same singular physical body.

An image of Dattatreya.

The Aghoris trace their origin even before Ramayan. Aughars have traditionally lived in isolation, in mountain caves, jungles and on cremation grounds. They neither had a need nor desire to live within the society and hence they stayed away from it. That is also a reason why they adopted a living style that distracted general public. To avoid people, they behaved as though they were imbalanced. How Many Adherents Are There?

Hinglaj Mata is the Kuladevi (patron goddess) of the Aghori. The main Aghori pilgrimage center is Kina Ram's hermitage or ashram in Ravindrapuri, Varanasi. Due to the secrecy of this religious sect, no official figures are available. At the end of the nineteenth century there were an estimated two or three hundred Aghori ascetics in Varanasi, though now there are perhaps as few as twenty living in their main center. The Aghoris do, however, have a large lay following, and devotees in India.

Prominent Aghori recognition.

  • The Aghori were featured on the first episode of the new Ripley's Believe It Or Not television series, hosted by Dean Cain.

  • In 2006 a Greek documentary by the name of "Shiva's Flesh" shows a Varanasi Aghori by name Black Boom Boom Baba and the existing faith around Aghoris in Varanasi.

  • On the Dirty Sanchez TV show, in a season called "Sanchez Get High," Welshmen Matthew Pritchard and Lee Dainton meet up with an Aghori ascetic, and shows Pritchard drinking alcohol from a skull.

  • British death metal band The Rotted wrote the lyrics to the song Just Add Nauseam about the Aghori, and the cover of the album it features on Ad Nauseamfeatures a six armed, 3 faced demonic figure loosely based on Indian artwork.

  • In the Hindi film Raaz – The Mystery Continues by Mohit Suri, J. Brandon Hill plays the role of an American executive who becomes an Aghori.

I hope this was helpful enough to understand the concept of Aghor (अ+ घोर = अघोर). Sources: