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The Gift of Life: Death as Teacher in the Aghori Sect

Author: Daniel B. Pitchford

In contrast to the American or Western perspective, there exist several other paradigms of death that draw from philosophical and spiritual traditions. Such paradigms offer a radical conception of death; it provides the human being with a more nuanced perspective on the significance of death in one’s life.

This article, by Daniel B. Pitchford and Rochelle Suri, utilizes the example of the Aghori, with their radical and unique perspective on death, as a challenge to the Western world to live an authentic, present life by maintaining awareness of mortality. Specifically, three main themes are explored: first, a theoretical engagement of the concept of death based on the (Western) philosophy of existentialism, second, a review of the historical origins and philosophy of the Aghori sect, and third, a depiction of the Aghoris as a living example of vigorously accepting death as an inevitability of life. On this basis a brief comparison of Western and Eastern attitudes towards life and death will be offered.

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