The Aghori (from Sanskrit अघोर aghora; lit.'"not-fearful", "fearless"') are a monastic order of ascetic Shaivite sadhus based in Uttar Pradesh, India. They are the only surviving sect derived from the Kāpālika tradition, a Tantric, non-Puranic form of Shaivism which originated in Medieval India between the 7th and 8th century CE.[1][2][3][4] Similarly to their predecessors, Aghoris usually engage in post-mortem rituals, often dwell in charnel grounds, smear cremation ashes on their bodies, and use bones from human corpses for crafting kapāla (skull cups which Shiva and other Hindu deities are often iconically depicted holding or using) and jewellery.[1][2][3]

Quick facts: Total population, Regions with significant po...
Aghori
An Aghori with a human skull, c.1875
Total population
70
Regions with significant populations
Varanasi, North India
Close
The Aghori tradition within Shaivism

Their practices are sometimes considered contradictory to orthodox Hinduism.[1][2][3][5] Many Aghori gurus command great reverence from rural populations and are widely referred to in medieval and modern works of Indian literature, as they are supposed to possess healing powers gained through their intensely eremitic rites and practices of renunciation and tápasya.[1][2][3]