| 33. Pagalananda
Pashupatinath, Kathmandu, Nepal
"When the ghosts read the writing on the skulls Shiva wears
around his neck, they know, 'This one is Brahma, this one is
Vishnu, this one is Indra, this is death,' as they play happily
with them, Shiva smiles, he laughs, our god
--Basava, vacana no.537 translated in A.K. Ramanujan.
The Aghora sub-sect of Shaivites represents one of the most extreme and demanding paths among sadhus. Aghora is another name for Shiva and literally means "Not Terrible." By challenging all sense of dark and light, good and bad, proper and improper, aghori sadhus believe the inherent Divine nature of the universe will be revealed. Therefore, these sadhus put themselves through many tests; spend most of their time around the cremation grounds, drink and eat from a human skull, demonstrate their transcendence of pain and non-attachment by hoisting bricks by their penis and sometimes, consume decomposed human flesh or their own excrement.