Cannibal Indian Aghori Monks: Shocking Rituals

Last Updated on April 18, 2022

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Yes, you read the title right: Indian cannibals!

On my holiday to India, I visited Varanasi, one of the most spiritual places in the world. 

Every inch of this city jolts you, from the burning bodies to the starving people and the half-dead animals crying for help.

But when I heard about the cannablistic rituals of the Indian Aghori monks, I was in shock.

Shocking Rituals From The Cannibal Indian Aghori Monks, Indian monk with painted face and many necklaces holding a stick and pointing upwards
Have you heard about the Indian Aghori tribe?

So are Aghoris cannibals?

Well, as the title suggests, the Aghori practices and rituals can be quite shocking. However, this post is meant to educate about you the Aghori in India rather than disgust you.

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Disclaimer: while this post is not incredibly graphic, it does include details about the Aghori cannibalism ritual amongst the Aghori monks of Varanasi, India. Please continue reading at your own discretion.

The Story of the Aghori Monks

aghori monks of varanasi, people in water along Varanasi shore next to boats with buildings in background

When I first heard about the cannibal Aghori monks it was a very hot Indian day (as always), and I was walking around the markets in Varanasi. 

I decided to duck into a jewellery shop, not because I was really interested in it, but because of the golden masterpiece on the wall – the air-conditioner. 

Inside, an Indian man asked me where I was from. I didn’t reply for a few seconds because this was a common line for most Indian men trying to start a conversation that I just couldn’t be bothered starting. 

But for some reason, I answered. He explained that he was from Kerala (South India) and was travelling with his Dutch friend who has been to India over 6 times. 

He said that nothing seems to faze her anymore. But he was absolutely petrified as Kerala is a different world away from Varanasi.

It couldn’t have come at a better time to meet them. I was at the point of getting verbally aggressive towards shopkeepers for asking me so many damn questions all the time. 

She taught me one of the best tips for solo female travellers in India: to be calm and take everything as a joke, laugh, and be cheeky. Don’t take anything seriously in this country. 

Her advice was true and is pretty much how I stayed sane the entire trip!

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Fast forward – I walked around the city with them and met a pot-smoking Sadhu (holy person) who hadn’t eaten in 5 days and told me my future (that’s another story!).

After that, we then decided that we should hop on a boat and watch the sunset before the famous ceremony of light on the edge of the Ganges.

While the guy was rowing, someone asked where does the bridge lead over in the distance. He looked like he had just seen a ghost and told us never to go over there.

Of course, we asked why and he told us the story of the Aghori Monks.

The Aghoris in India are infamous with the locals because they apparently cast black magic if the locals go near them.

Most human beings run away from death because we are afraid of dying or seeing people dead. But not these monks – in fact, they live off the dead.

They welcome death into their lives like I welcome chocolate into mine. A person has to die before a new person can come into this world.

But as we asked this guy more about what they do, the more my jaw dropped. I certainly didn’t expect to be learning about cannibalism in India during a peaceful boat ride!

learn about the cannibal tribe in india, boats on the water with people standing on steps next to water
The Ganges play an important part in the Aghori monks’ lifestyle

The Most Important Aghori Ritual

Perhaps the most important of the Aghori rituals is Shav Putra, an incredibly private ceremony. In order to complete it, they must find human corpses.

These are hard to find in Varanasi as nearly everyone is cremated. Some families in Varanasi, cannot afford to be cremated so instead they will put the bodies in the Ganges.

So, the Aghori monks literally ‘fish’ them out.

When they find a body they meditate on it, chop the head off (because it holds the most energy), and then in some Aghori practices they eat the flesh.

This is why the Aghori tribe is known as the Indian cannibal tribe.

These so-called cannibal monks believe that they can’t please God if they don’t do this human sacrifice. They keep the skull of the corpse as a reminder of the impermanence of life. 

Aghori monks believe that all their acts and rituals, including cannibalism, are done in pursuit of spiritual liberation.

The Aghori people have their own lifestyle and beliefs that are seen as evil and taboo amongst Hindus.

This is why most of the locals stay right away from them. They are believed to have no fear and to digest all evil!

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aghori monks in varanasi india, boats on water in low light

Other Aghori Rituals and Practices

Other daily Aghori rituals include drinking urine and eating stools in their food. They are also known to consume a lot of alcohol and marijuana. 

One of the most important and chilling daily rituals that the Aghori cannibals do is smothering their face in human ash. They call it ‘holy ash.’

The Aghoris are shunned by the local society because of their ‘black magic’ and cannibalism so you may be hard-pressed to find them anywhere in India (that’s if you do want to find them). 

If you want to know more about the Aghori monks and the Aghori lifestyle then watch this YouTube video from a bunch of photographers that went to photograph them; it’s pretty amazing.

I couldn’t believe that these Aghori cannibalism rituals still existed in the modern-day, but I should have known better; India is full of surprises! 

I will never forget that chilling moment on the boat when our guide told us about the Aghori tribe. I had no idea there were cannibals in India!

It’s stories like these that make me think travelling is the best form of education.

the infamous indian cannibal tribe aghori, painting of Hindu goddess with multiple arms sitting on crocodile

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Frequently Asked Questions

✅ Who is the God of Aghori?

The Aghori monks in India worship the god Shiva, who is the Hindu god of destruction. Because everything the gods created is said to be beautiful, they see death as something to be celebrated. They also believe that every person’s soul is actually Shiva, so by consuming their energy, they are becoming closer to god.

✅ Who is the first Aghori monk?

The first of the Aghori people is said to be a man named Kina Ram who lived more than 150 years ago in Varanasi, India.

✅ Are Aghori cannibals?

Technically speaking, yes. While they certainly aren’t seeking out living people, they do consume body parts of corpses. As they eat other humans, this is why they are – accurately – known as the cannibal tribe in India.

Have you heard of the Aghori tribe? Did you know there were cannibal tribes in India? Would you be scared to meet the Aghori monks of Varanasi?

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The Comments

  • Fiona Maclean
    October 30, 2016

    Wow, that is something. I don’t think I’d want to go in search of the aghoris monks – just a bit too macabre for me

  • Nancy
    October 30, 2016

    That is quite a story about the Aghori Monks, creepy but interesting at the same time! They have some pretty disgusting rituals too. I always wonder how do people could even think about drinking urine and eating stools in their food. Yuck!!!! Have to say your post is a real eye opener about different cultures.

  • Gokul Raj
    October 30, 2016

    Ohh yea I have heard about this. This is true. Only thing I like about them is that they smoke joints all the time. You can even find videos in youtube of their horrific rituals which are really graphic.

  • Darlene
    October 31, 2016

    Wow. This had me speechless. That is certainly interesting to say the least. I want to meet them but I still love my life so I’m content to read about them instead. Truly India holds so many secrets like these. One thing I wonder about though, is if they don’t get sick from all those things they’re eating (corpse, shit and piss). Great article!

  • Laura Lynch
    October 31, 2016

    Wow, those are some pretty unusual rituals. I’m not sure I could get on board with the drinking of urine. What could be the benefit of that?

  • Jenna Kvidt
    October 31, 2016

    Oh wow–I’ve never heard of the Aghoris. Definitely shocking and quite the story! It’s always interesting to learn about other cultures and some of the things they do, but I think I’d be up for keeping my distance from them, too!!

  • Mar Pages
    October 31, 2016

    This is so interesting..I thought I’d read the title wrong when I saw the word cannibals, I thought cannibalisitic tribes are part of an ancient past but now know it still exists in India!

  • erikastravels
    October 31, 2016

    It must have been such a sensory overload to wander around Varanasi. This was a fascinating read, as I knew nothing about the Aghoris before this post. It must have also been quite an experience to get your future told to you by someone who hasn’t eaten in five days!

  • Neha Verma
    November 1, 2016

    As Indians, especially north Indian, we have heard these Aghori stories. Never came across one (and I don’t wish to 🙂 ) Cannibalism repels me, whatever be their reason for it. But yes, completely agree that India is full of surprises and would never cease to fascinate people across the world

  • Alexander Alexanderov
    November 2, 2016

    Thank you for very nice trip, and good information i never expected, would like to go and visit these places,

  • Christopher
    November 3, 2016

    This post was absolutely fascinating. I saw the word cannibal but I though maybe this was something that took place in the past. Wow.

  • Saurabh Sharma
    November 4, 2016

    Some rituals are really eye openers about aghoris as i am from India, but never heard of drinking urine and eating stool. What scared me more is their dressing and ash covered face.

  • Boyce
    November 9, 2016

    I thought Cannibals doesn’t exist now and reading this makes me grassy. Great information!

  • Mayuri Nidigallu
    June 8, 2017

    I have read about Aghori Sadhus. I believe they also scoop out the heart from a corpse, and eat that! I have never heard of then drinking Urine and eating Stools though.
    This was an interesting read. I will be looking up your post once again, when I plan a trip to Varanasi. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kristin
    July 24, 2017

    Holy moly! This sounds so exciting.. creepy, but exciting! Something my husband would probably love to go and see. He’s up for anything that involves risking his life unfortunately. Lol.
    Great post! 🙂 Such a unique experience. Especially with the dope smoking fortune teller!

  • San
    January 1, 2024

    Im not able to view the video that you put in the article, abt the photographer that went to capture their pictures.