March 10, 2015

The Cannibal Monks of Varanasi

The Cannibal Monks of Varanasi

Feared across India, the exiled Aghori monks of Varanasi feast on human flesh and reside near cremation sites in search of spiritual enlightenment.  Showing the monks with painted faces and beads strung around their necks, these incredible images were taken by Italian photographer Cristiano Ostinelli, who spent time with the tribe to discover more about their way of life.

The mysterious tribe members live in cemeteries and feast on human flesh as part of their rituals, as well as drinking from human skulls, chewing the heads off live animals and meditating on top of cadavers in search of spiritual enlightenment….The monks use a combination of marijuana, alcohol and meditation to help them reach a disconnected state of heightened awareness and bring themselves closer to revered Hindu god Lord Shiva. The Aghori also believe that by immersing themselves without prejudice in what others deem taboo or disturbing, they're on course to achieving enlightenment.

They live among India's cremation sites - where Lord Shiva and goddess Kali Ma are said to dwell - and feed on what others throw away.
Bodies are often cremated and then scattered into the sacred Ganges river, but some bodies are disposed of without cremation. The Aghori are said to collect these remains and use them for their spiritual enlightenment, wearing the corpses, consuming them or building alters from them.

Italian photographer Cristiano Ostinelli captured some extraordinary images


Posted by Jill Fallon at March 10, 2015 12:57 PM | Permalink