The American Aghori: Orientalist Sensationalism?

A photograph of Kapal Nath, a.k.a. -- the American Aghori.

A provocative piece by ex Green Beret and acquitted-murder suspect, Michael Yon, profiles an "American Aghori," Kapal Nath, in this month's Vice. We've caught wind of Kapal Nath last year through a well referenced article at Sepia Mutiny, where Yon's work also figures prominently.

Orientalist Sensationalism---

While I am drawn towards this colorful, American Aghori character...

I am suspect of author Michael Yon's intentions. After studying this riveting article from the Tampa Tribune (available now only through the wonders of Google's caching). It's a fine read, a trashy piece of modern day shocker pulp, Faces-of-Death style tabloid orientalism.

Yon paints himself the fearless and intrepid journalist amidst the American "cannibal". He does everything he can to try to stir up a controversy about the Aghori stateside: he calls police stations trying associate Kapal Nath with murders in Hawaii by baiting the police there; and similarly in San Franscisco and elsewhere.

Kapal Nath jokes to Yon about using lots of barbecue sauce when roasting and eating humans —sound to me like the Aghori teasing Yon. Who eats barbecue in India? Tandoori maybe. All and all, Yon's superficial, sensationalistic readings of Aghori tantra paint the sect as modern day South Pacific cannibals a la Gilligan's Island.

As they sat in the restaurant, Nath talked of how humans should be prepared.

"I like to take a fresh body, you know, maybe even an Israeli, cook 'em barbecue" Nath spoke into Yon's tape recorder.

Nath described his technique, using a "big, big bucket of barbecue sauce, paintbrush, roller, you know."

Yon spent the next 11 days with Nath. Cannibalism, Yon said, was taken as a part of Indian culture.

"The amazing thing is they are doing it there in the open," Yon said. "A policeman was burning the body of his neighbour and cracked open the skull to release the soul. The policeman gave Nath some of the brains to eat."

On the flipside---

All this Googling for Aghoris has turned up a few stones... Does know where to find copies of these gems of Aghori Cinema?

Feeding on the Dead by Sandeep Singh
Sadhus: India's Holy Men | Hinduism Today review (scroll down)

Also, the excellent Pop Occulture blog features a post with a concentric theme and suspicions.

posted by
Spiros Antonopoulos

TAGS — Aghora, Aghori, Kapal Nath, orientalism, sensationalism


4 total remarks for this post. Add your own remarks below.

Thu 15 Feb 2007 at 02:23PM


You're right on. Mike Yon is rubish writer. A bully. And he has taken part in killing many person's in Iraq --working with the FBI and CIAA.

Thu 01 Mar 2007 at 11:06PM

jaime hakkarainen

kapalnath is an american from texas who grew up with a father who gave him everything materialistic and nothing emotionaly,he met my mother in hawaii in the 70s,at the time he practiced harjicrishna,they married and had me,he named me rohini,vina,affter harjichrisna,he left 3 years later for india,and got deeper and deeper into the religions,untill found his life in agori, but i think,its just a place to hide from reality and to get away with his crazyness,he is somewhat spiritual,somewhat crazy,he does eat human flesh,or so he says,he likes to shock people,he is defanatly teasing the writer when he mentions barbecue sauce,the writer mike,was feeding him and paying his way so of course kapal had to feed him full of stores,ffor as long as he could,to keep the doe comming,still kappal is a very interestintg yet messed up person,who has done and seen things most people never will,and he is lucky to be alive.hes alost soul.

Thu 01 Mar 2007 at 11:46PM

jaime hakkarainen

kapalnath"american name Gary Stevenson"was being fed and taken care of by Mike of course he was going to feed him full of crazy storys for as long as he could,the bbq sauce is bullshit,but he is an emotionally abused lost soul hiding his crazyness in the aghori religion.

Sun 17 Jun 2007 at 08:32AM

Curious coincident

My boyfriend went to India and met your dad by accident, as it seems. He recognised him from the cover of the scandinavian issue of Vice magazine of all places, after he came back.

Hakkarainen? Is your Hare Krishna mum from Finland by any chance? Is she still involved with the temple? Have you ever lived in or been to Finland?

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