7 Small But Important Things To Observe In Beliefs And Doctrines Of Aghori
Despite the thought behind such actions, outsiders (particularly tourists) have typically viewed the sect with suspicion and horror, with their lifestyles being described as morally damaging to the Indian youth, akin to living like animals, uncivilized compared to modern Hindu society, or outright dangerous, due to belief that the Aghori are willing to kill live humans for their rituals. But Actually, They Don't.
Aghoris are devotees of Shiva manifested as Bhairava, and monists who seek moksha from the cycle of reincarnation or saṃsāra. This freedom is a realization of the self's identity with the absolute. Because of this monistic doctrine, the Aghoris maintain that all opposites are ultimately illusory.
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The purpose of embracing pollution and degradation through various customs is the realization of non-duality (Advaita) through transcending social taboos, attaining what is essentially an altered state of consciousness and perceiving the illusory nature of all conventional categories. Aghori rituals, which are performed precisely to oppose notions of purity commonplace in orthodox Hinduism, are typically macabre in nature.
Practices of Aghoris varies. Some of them also live in cemeteries, smear cremation ashes on their bodies, use human skulls for decoration and bowls, smoke marijuana, drink alcohol, and meditate on top of corpses.
Although contrary to mainstream Hinduism, these practices exemplify the Aghori philosophy of criticizing commonplace social relations and fears through the use of culturally offensive acts. Furthermore, they demonstrate the Aghoris’ acceptance of death as a necessary and natural part of the human experience.
Despite the thought behind such actions, outsiders (particularly tourists) have typically viewed the sect with suspicion and horror, with their lifestyles being described as morally damaging to the Indian youth, akin to living like animals, uncivilized compared to modern Hindu society, or outright dangerous, due to belief that the Aghori are willing to kill live humans for their rituals.
This particular claim, as of the present, has yet to be substantiated with hard evidence. Aghoris are not to be confused with Shivnetras, who are also ardent devotees of Shiva but do not indulge in extreme, tamasic ritual practices.
Although the Aghoris enjoy close ties with the Shivnetras, the two groups are quite distinct, Shivnetras engaging in sattvic worship. 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. Aghoris believe that every person's soul is Shiva, but is covered by aṣṭamahāpāśa "eight great nooses or bonds", including sensual pleasure, anger, greed, obsession, fear and hatred.
The practices of the Aghoris are centred around the removal of these bonds. Sādhanā in cremation grounds is used in an attempt to destroy fear; sexual practices with certain riders and controls attempt to release one from sexual desire; being naked is used in an attempt to destroy shame. On release from all the eight bonds, the soul becomes sadāśiva and obtains moksha.