A Review of ‘Aghori — Holy City Varanasi’ Documentary with Reza Aslan

6 min readNov 3, 2022
Aghori • License (Free to share and use)

I’m following a breadcrumb trail, and it’s led me to the Aghori.

After the gruesomeness of watching the horror movie Midsommar last night — which is a nuanced and insightful look at grief, trauma, trauma-bonding, gas-lighting, ignorance, attachment, community and cults — I found myself on the FB group Tantrik Yoga Now on a post dedicated to the Aghoris.

This is a particular Tantrik sect which uses extreme methods to break through conditioning and therefore self-realise.

I’m familiar with Aghoris and their practices as I read a book about 13 years ago called Aghora: At the Left Hand of God by Robert E. Svoboda.

Nik Robson later gave me the second book in this trilogy.

That book was part of what began opening me up to Tantra, way back in about 2008 or 2009.

Some of the practices of the Aghoris include drinking and eating from skulls, meditating on corpses and even eating human flesh. That didn’t revolt me — it made me curious.

On the Tantrik Yoga Now post linked to a few documentaries, and I saved them all, and chose one to watch last night — Aghori— Holy City Varanasi by Reza Aslan.

As always, I incorporated watching this documentary into my practice, working with the Tantrik principle of continuity.

I sat in front of my altar, candle lit, with my laptop off to the side, and watched the doco whilst in non-conceptual meditation, and also working with Guru Yoga practice.

What I noticed was that right from the start, was that my body started going into spontaneous kriya — something which happens often and is no big deal. But it was stronger than it has been for a while. There was internal movement of bandhas and a strong sense of Shiva. I felt pulled into practice, and meditation in a specific way that was spontaneously unfolding.

Watching the doco felt like such a gift — to have that kind of entrance into Varanasi (I’ve never been to India) and the world of the Aghoris, through Reza Aslan’s reporting. And he was fascinating to watch as well.


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