Human skulls

A group of cannibals who live in a remote part of India and use dead bodies as beds are growing in number, as westerners flock to join the bizarre order.

The Aghori cannibals - who live by the Ganges river in northern India - smear themselves with the ash from cremated bodies and drink from skulls in rituals they believe give them spiritual powers.

The group are feared by locals despite only eating the flesh of people who are already dead. They believe the ritual "is a symbol of the transcendence of his lower self and a realisation of the greater, all pervading Self that is universal consciousness."

Darragh Mason, 37, an intrepid Irish photographer, spent time with the extreme sect.

He told the Sunday Mirror: "They are known to pull bodies from the Ganges and eat them.


"Skulls and other human bones are taken from the cremation grounds and used for ritual purposes. They believe that power comes from the dead.

"At one point they tried to get me to drink water from the Ganges out of a human skull but around two metres upstream they were cremating bodies so I just couldn't - the river is teaming with disease anyway."

Darragh said people were "attracted" to the group's way of life. As a result the Aghori are growing in numbers despite practicing celibacy – they believe that sensual pleasure represents a noose or bonds that keep a person from attaining liberation from the cycle of death and reincarnation.

He said: "There was an American gentleman who lived with the group for some time. Amazingly people are really attracted to this way of life.

"They actively try to be thought of as the lowest in society which is why they do not dress well and their hair is often matted."

The Aghori are also invovled in charitable works in their local communities. They have set up a leper colony where they have provided care for hundreds of thousands of people with leprosy.