Aghorpunts, or Aghorees, are a class of people who frequent the ghats at Benares, though they are occasionally to be found in other parts if India, and have been met with even in Assam. They are Ogres (indeed, the similitude of the word to Aghoree is noticeable), and affect a practical philosophy, which disbelieves in the existence of any difference between things, and asserts that all distinctions depend on the imagination. A cuff or a kick is immaterial to them as a blessing. They go about in puris naturalibus, with a fresh human skull in their hands (off which they had previously eaten the putrid flesh. And afterwards scraped out the brain and eyes with their fingers), into which is poured whatsoever is given them to drink. They pretend to be indifferent whether it be ardent spirits or milk or foul water. For they take the first thing which offers, whether it be a putrid corpse, cooked food or ordure. With matted hair, blood-red eyes, and body covered with filth and vermin, the Aghoree is an oject of terror and discust. He looks like a wolf, ready to destroy and then devour his prey, rather than a human being.
Hindoos, however, look on these wretches with veneration, and none dare to drive them from their doors. They are among the worst of the many turbulent and troublesome inhabitants of Benaris, and there is scarcely a crime or enormity which has not, on apparently good grounds, been laid to their charge.
One of the ancient Hindoo dramatists, Bhava Bhutt, who flourished in the eighth century, in his drama of Malati and Mahdava, has made powerful use of the “Aghorees” in a scene in the Temple of Chamunda, where the heroine of the play is decoyed in order to be sacrificed to the dread goddess Chamunda or Kali. The disciple of “Aghoree Ghanti,” the high priest who is to perform the horrible rite, by name “Kapala Kunda,” is interrupted in his invocation to Chamunda by the hero Mahdava, who thus describes the scene:-
Passage from, The People of India volumes 1868-75, Birmingham Central library.