Everything is Sacred: AN AGHORI BABA SAGA

India's most maverick Babas: a unique documentary portrait

12 Sep 2012

Sadhus: India’s Holy Men/Living With The Dead, a film by Rajesh Bedi and Naresh Bedi, 1995, colour, 50 mins. 

 

It was in Benares that I encountered my first Aghori baba, dressed in saffron yellow robes, hunting for skulls alongside his gang of rabid dogs on a sandy bank of the Ganges. It was said that he hadn’t spoken to anyone in ten years. In a country such as India where the paths to God are infinite, some take on a path that is both extreme and dangerous. In this rare and intimate documentary portrait, Indian filmmakers Rajesh Bedi and Naresh Bedi follow the life of guru Ram Nath, who is a practicing Aghori – one of the most controversial and feared sects of the sadhus.

“Wading through icy cold waters in Haridwar’s winter, cold beyond imagining, Rajesh would stand knee-deep, rolling his camera to catch the Aghori in a moment of midnight meditation in front of the burning pyres. The stench of dead corpses and burnt flesh is more than what was bargained for”, says Naresh, about the film.

The sadhus, or holy men, practice asceticism, worshipping their God Shiva in search of truth and enlightenment – or Nirvana. Following a Tantric philosophy of embracing the dark and the light, the Aghoris sadhus seek to transcend illusions of duality, to blur the boundaries between the sacred and the profane.

They are often condemned by mainstream Hindus for their unorthodox and transgressive rituals which sometimes include cannibalism, black magic, living on cremation grounds and having a skull bowl (a symbol which Shiva is often depicted with in sculptures and paintings).

Filmed in the city of Haridwar along the sacred Ganges river, Living With The Dead captures the mystery of modern India, where even the most marginal spirituality has its place.

 

Text by Sophie Pinchetti.

 

Baba rising in the cremation ghat at midnight for meditation. A still from Sadhus: India's Holy Men/Living With The Dead (1995), a film by Rajesh Bedi and Naresh Bedi. Colour, 50 mins.
Baba rising in the cremation ghat at midnight for meditation. A still from Sadhus: India’s Holy Men/Living With The Dead (1995), a film by Rajesh Bedi and Naresh Bedi. Colour, 50 mins.
Smashan Tara, a painting by Robert Beer for Robert Svoboda's book AGHORA, AT THE LEFT HAND OF GOD.
Smashan Tara, a painting by Robert Beer for Robert Svoboda’s book AGHORA, AT THE LEFT HAND OF GOD.
Baba with ash during a ritual with his guru. A still from Sadhus: India's Holy Men/Living With The Dead (1995), a film by Rajesh Bedi and Naresh Bedi. Colour, 50 mins.
Baba with ash during a ritual with his guru. A still from Sadhus: India’s Holy Men/Living With The Dead (1995), a film by Rajesh Bedi and Naresh Bedi. Colour, 50 mins.

 

  • claudia kreuchauf alias shanmuga priya

    my baba ji ………very much divine love to you ……please bless me <3

 

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