Aghora-panthī

(‘a follower of Aghori school [of Śaivism]’)

Aghorapanthis are the ascetics of a queer Śaiva order, who worship Śiva as ‘aghora’ (‘the non-terrible’). The origin of this sect which revels in abominable practices like cannibalism, eating from a human skull, besmearing with ashes from funeral pyres and a generous helping of spirituous liquors, is rather obscure. May be, they represent the remnants of some aboriginal non-Āryan religious cults which were absorbed into Hinduism in course of time. The few surviving members of the sect are to be found mostly in Bihar, Bengal, Rajasthan and Assam. Owing to the natural abhorrence of people towards such sects, their number has fast dwindled.

See also KĀPĀLIKAS.