Shiva, one of the three Gods in the Hindu holy trinity is the destroyer. Therefore, it is not surprising that he is considered the most intimidating of the Gods. He is an ascetic and something of a recluse, unlike Vishnu who comes across as more friendly and warm, particularly in his avatar as Krishna. Shiva worship with its connotations of death and decay has always had elements of the bizarre but the Aghori sect really take the cake.
Aghoris make their home in cremation grounds. They clothe themselves in the dust and filth of the graves and walk around carrying skulls. They follow a form of tantrism, one of the more abstruse branches of hinduism. Tantric rituals attempt to reverse prescribed Hindu practices. Aghoris dismiss traditional concepts of purity as stuff and nonsense since everything in nature is a manifestation of the universal being. By staying close to the dead and literally imbibing their essence, they hope to draw closer to whatever lies beyond the grave. The name 'Aghori' means not terrified (of death) .
In keeping with their beliefs, Aghoris don't believe in personal hygiene or bathing for that matter. They consume intoxicants out of skulls (they were doing it long before Lord Byron did it for a lark), do drugs, have kinky tantric sex, meditate on corpses, and eat the decayed flesh of the dead. By deliberately devoting their lives to what the rest of the world perceives as vices, it is believed that these ascetics accumulate great spiritual powers that allow them to release people from the vicious cycle of life, death, and rebirth or curse them into oblivion. Fascinating stuff huh?
I had no idea Aghoris existed until Bala's "Naan Kadavul" was released. Isn't India incredible? You can live here forever and still unearth little about its cultural grandeur and variety. Looking forward to learning everything I can about the country that wrote the book on everything from sex (Kamasutra) to politics (Artha Sastra) .