| The Man
who ate a Human Brain|
Maldevta is a popular picnic spot near Dehra Dun. Thirst overtook
us while trekking to Maldevta and we decided to ask for some water
at a small thatched hut about a eight hundred scrubby hundred yards
from the canal we were following. A dusky, well built man wearing
a skimpy loin cloth emerged from the dark interior of the hut. Why,
of course, we could have water, he answered. He didn't have that much
left, just a couple of glasses, as he'd just finished cooking, but
we were most welcome to it. Was this his permanent residence, we asked
him conversationally? Oh no, he had no fixed place of stay. There
was a cremation ground just a stone's thrown away, and he'd built
this hut as he had been waiting for a lawaris body (homeless
person's body which is generally cremated by a philanthropic organization
or trust). As luck would have it, after waiting for some three months,
such a body had arrived just yesterday, and he'd been able, in exchange
for a good luck charm, to obtain the head of the dead man. In fact,
he'd almost run out of water as he had used most of it for cooking
the dead man's brain with some rice. He brought out a blackened pot
and showed us the contents. He'd already had one portion of it, and
would have to space out eating the cooked brain and rice over the
next three days. Repelled, chilled, yet curious, we asked him who
He was an aghori, he said, and Calcutta
was his birthplace. After early initiation when he was just nine
years old into Tantric Kali worship, he'd moved into other deeper
sadhnas (disciplines), but always, it was with the forces of the
dark. The rules and demands of the search for power in which he
was now engaged ordained that he had to eat at least one human brain
he had acquired the ability of divining the future. He could actually
show us our future, in case we were interested. Why didn't we come
in ? Fascinated yet afraid that at this isolated spot we might end
up becoming his annual meal, we left somewhat hastily, forgetting
all our lessons in politeness.
Over the next few days, I couldn't get the aghori
out of my mind. When a brigadier and his wife came to seek a reading
from the cards as they were in deep trouble with a court martial
looming on the horizon, it gave me the opportunity to go back to
the aghori, with the anxious brigadier and his wife in tow.
After all, he had said he could show one the future. What better
way of testing the claim ?
He was still there, at the peak of his powers,
he informed us, as he'd recently consumed the human brain. This
time, we entered his hut and our eyes soon became accustomed to
the dimness. The aghori requested us to sit, and as we sat
cross-legged on the earthern floor, placed a lota (container)
of water before us. "Look into the water" he commanded.
And in the water, we saw the brigadier, older, dressed in civilian
clothes. After several sequences, we saw the brigadier with the
Supreme Court clearly visible in the background, and he was wearing
a dark blue suit and distributing sweets to a group of people who
were with him.
Some months after this amazing incident, the brigadier
wanted to take a friend to meet the aghori, but when we reached
there we found the hut in a sad state : it was just a bundle of
grass and straw and twigs strewn on the ground. Enquiries at the
cremation ground revealed that the aghori had been driven
away by irate residents of Raipur, a nearby suburb.
Seven years passed with only occasional meetings
with the brigadier, who was no longer in active service and was
fighting his case in the civil courts. One day I received a message
from him. The Supreme Court was to give the verdict on his case.
And when I went on the appointed day, apart from other settings,
there, outside the imposing Supreme Court building, was the Brigadier,
dressed in a dark blue suit, distributing sweets just as he had
been seven years ago in the lota of water the cannibal aghori
had placed before us.