Have you ever been to Kumbh? Have you seen naked Baba’s smeared with ashes and matted dreadlocks? If yes, who were they- the Aghoris or the Naga Sadhus? Both Aghoris and Naga Sadhus are the major attraction at the greatest human gathering- The Kumbh Mela. These babas are believed to have divine powers and devotees from every nook and corner of the country visit to seek their blessings. In fact, the Naga Sadhus and Aghoris can only be seen during Kumbh as they live in anonymity. They are the first one to take the holy bath at Kumbh! When we look at Aghoris and Naga Sadhus, they look very similar from their appearance. But it is not really like that, they are not alike and holds many differences that might be invisible for the naked eyes but very much visible if looked closely. From their style, clothing, food, penance or meditation, these Babas hold great differences and that’s exactly what makes them so unique.
Aghoris and Naga Sadhus at Kumbh!
There is no doubt that these saints look very much similar, their appearance differentiates them from the other monks but they hold a lot more significance within themselves. If we talk about the Naga Sadhus, their origin dates back to Treta Yug, which was started by Dattatrya and structured by Adi Shankaracharya. These monks are trained warriors and thus are also known as ‘Warrior Ascetics” and are believed to be the saviors of Hindu Sanatan Dharma. Their values haven’t changed with the course of time which is well proven by- even today, the Naga Sadhus are seen carrying tridents along with them. Whereas the Aghoris origin can be traced back to Baba Keenaram, who was an ascetic and is believed to have lived 150 years and died during the second half of the 18th century! The Aghoris are also believed to be the fifth reincarnation of the Lord Shiva and their holy book is Avadhuta Gita. So, even their existence comes from different origins.
How to become an Aghori or Naga Sadhus?
Both the Aghoris and Naga Sadhus undergo difficult examinations and Tapasya to become one. It takes around almost 12 years of hardship to become such a monk! The Naga Sadhus stays at the Akharas and pass examination over there only. It is compulsory for them to choose a guru from the group and learn the ascetics of their culture from them. These gurus can be the head of the Naga Sadhus or a big monk among them. After serving these Gurus and learning from them, they reach to the next level of becoming a Naga Sadhu. As per to become an Aghori, no guru is required to become one and their supreme mentor is lord Shiva itself. To become an Aghori, penance has to be done in the crematorium ground and they are asked to spend several years of their life within the crematorium only. They need to cut connections with their families and friends in order to become like these babas. Their emotions such as jealousy, love, hatred or anger are completely burst out! Basically, the Aghoris and the Naga are just a small group of ascetic Shiva Sadhus. Both of these monks worship Shiva but with a slightly different method.
If we look closely at the eating habits of them, the Naga Sadhu and Aghori baba are both considered non-vegetarians but few Naga Sadhus are also vegetarians. Both of them eat meat but only the Aghori among them consume the human flesh! And it is not a symbol of horror instead a one for peace. Aghoris sees themselves as the reincarnation of Lord Shiva and thus belief that they are the living form of Shiva in an era of ‘Kaliyuga’. Talking about the clothing styles, the Naga Sadhus preferred staying fully naked only smeared with human corpse ash! Whereas Aghoris cover their lower part of the body with stuff like animal skin. They are mostly indulged into post mortem practices and thus adorn jewelry made out of human bones and skulls. We all know that both Aghoris and Naga Sadhus live in anonymity, but Naga can be seen during the Kumbh Mela or in their Akharas. Naga Sadhus lives in Himalayas and only get in touch with civilization during the Mahakumbh festival. Aghoris on the other hand only reside at crematoriums not anywhere else. They live a life of a vagabond wandering here and there at the crematorium grounds. Their major livelihood is believed to be at Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi. They meditate over human corpse in a very vandalistic manner of Tapasya, mostly in three ways- the cremation practice, cremation meditation and Shiva sadhana. This cult is also known as Ogharapanth!
Naga Sadhus follow the aesthetics of Lord Shiva and thus hold divine powers. Devotees often visit them to seek their blessings and these monks in return teach them the value of life. Aghoris are considered to be so dwelled within their devotion that they are seen having spiritual powers of black magic. They use this power usually for their tapasya itself but sometimes also for human needs. Do you know about the 5M protocol? There are basically five protocols of Aghoris through which they reach nirvana. ‘Madya’- the wine which means the heavenly liquid pulled out of human brain. ‘Mamsa’ meaning the meat which refers to consuming tongues. ‘Matsya’ which means a twin fish having an ‘8’ shaped structure. ‘Mudra’ referring to parched grains. And ‘Maithuna’ which means sexual intercourse with the human corpse. These protocols are needed to be learned from an experienced guru. So it can be interpreted that even both of them look alike, there are major differences among them. The Aghoris and the Naga Sadhus are uniquely much worshipped monks who hold a great significance during the Mahakumbh festival of India. Devotees are instructed not to touch them especially the females. These secretive clans usually restrain talking about themselves but this does not mean that the world is unaware about them. No matter how much vandalistic and crude they may seem from their appearance, these monks having a reason behind their each attribution.