As per Tantric Texts Lord Shiva is considered to be Lord of the crematorium – Shamshanadhipati, in his form of Shamshan Bhairava he resides in the crematorium along with his consort Shamshan Kali. Thus residing in Shamshan is considered auspicious according to Aghoris. Shamshan (Crematoriums) is the place where the five elements of which our body is made (earth, water, fire, air, ether) are present in their original form and they go back to their original state when a body is cremated. When a sadhaka sees continuous cremation he realizes that this body is destructible and He should rise above the bodily plane to the spiritual plane.
He also understands that death is inevitable anything that is born has to die and it is in this lifetime that he can strive for enlightenment so that he does not take birth again and is freed from the cycle of birth and death. Birth can be controlled but if one is born one has to die, and thus realizing the truth the fear of death is overcome and you develop detachment from material pleasures and sense gratification. Etymologically ‘Sam – Shan’ can be said as a place where everyone’s status is equal, a king is also cremated there and a pauper is also cremated there, giving a sense of equality in vision. You see the world as the same and do not differentiate.
With a vision of equality you see all flesh as flesh, Aghoris eat all sorts of flesh be it human or animal. Unlike us, they do not fall for the taste as taste is also temporary and material. We have lots of recipes to make chicken, mutton, fish, or any other flesh. we see each flesh differently bearing different tastes but Aghoris consider chicken, mutton, fish, and human flesh as flesh. They do not differentiate. Also, they do not kill for food. We kill a chicken, goat, lamb, etc cause we prefer fresh meat. we will not eat the meat of someone who is already dead. But Aghoris are not like that they are not hunters but scavengers. Their way of eating is they would spot a fresh body being cremated and when the pyre is lit and their relatives leave after the funeral is complete it is then with their tong Aghoris would pick a thigh part of the dead body from the burning pyre and eat it. Just as the animals such as vultures, crows, dogs, etc scavenge to eat the remnants of the dead the same way Aghoris eat the remnants. They are not cannibals as they are no hunters, they just live on the dead.
Therefore we should not consider them cruel or inhuman. Actually, we are cruel and inhuman as we go to a nice restaurant and order some fantastic chicken and lamb, and because we ordered chicken and lamb the chef or the butcher would slaughter a fresh chicken or lamb. If the hotel would serve a lamb that got killed in a road accident you would just go and sue the restaurant for not serving fresh meat, killing for food does not seem cruel only scavenging seems cruel. When Killing is cruel or scavenging that is up to the readers to decide. When we come out of the bodily platform we forget to taste, disgust, beauty, and all the modes of the sense gratification given to us by our senses, we just see everything as the same.
The moment we start differentiation of tasty or bland, beautiful or ugly, comfort and discomfort you still are in the bodily platform. Living in the bodily platform by wearing saffron and living a life of comfort does not make you qualified to be enlightened. There has to be detachment, austerity, sacrifice, and most important the realization of the true self. The lifestyle of Aghoris seems difficult to understand but they have truly realized souls as the amount of Austerity they perform cannot be performed by anyone.
We need to also try to know Aghoris well before we make assumptions and accuse them of cruelty and inhuman behavior, there are also a lot of Myths surrounding them as people out of fear or neglect creates stories around them. We need to uncover the Stories and try to peep into reality.