The Aghoree at Assi Ghat. (part 1)
I first met with an Aghoree Baba in November 2002 at Assi Ghat in Benares, although at that time I did not know or care that he was an Aghoree; he was sat sharing a chillum with a few young foreign travellers, many of whom appeared more fashionably ascetic than him. I think stoned and wanting to impress the crowd he pulled a few almost impossible Yogic positions in what appeared an uncomfortable couple of sweaty minutes for him. We talked together for a while in short sentences that were made up of broken words of English and Hindi, a hybrid language that I now refer to as Hinglish.
I took a couple of frames of him I said goodbye and I moved on. One year later I bumped into him again and once again he sat entertaining a small crowd of impressionable young foreign travellers who had congragated at Assis Ghat. Recognising me he embraced me and he took me to his home. His home was also a shrine, built for his gods, it was leaning against a small growing tree, it was perched high on the muddy rivers bank, at the very western end of Benares’s Ghats, safe from the river in full flood.
Next day though I found him sobbing close to the steps of Assi Ghat. He told me he was crying because earlier that morning a few police men had raised his small shrine to the ground and now his home was gone. He pleaded with me to do something for him . I asked, what could I do? He looked terribly disappointed in me, he almost expected me to have some sort of power over authority that I could help him to restore his home and his shrine.
‘Ghats’- concrete step at the rivers edge.