First of all, every sadhu is a devotee of Shiva, even the Vaishnavite (devotee of Vishnu) ascetics. Secondly, no baba is going to put himself above another baba with regard to who is a greater devotee, well not generally. There are stories, of course. Such as the story of Bhima, I think it was, who considered himself among the greatest of the Lord’s devotees that he took a bunch of flowers and rushed to heaven in order to propitiate the Lord with fervor and love. There were many devotees in a great line, but Bhima charged to the head only to be thoroughly rebuked and made to witness all the thousands of bullock carts full of flowers which the peasants had gathered whereas Bhima himself had only come with a handful. I may have my characters confused and the point is not the flowers, but the audacity to consider oneself as more devoted than another in the eyes of the Lord.
This story was told to me by my Master a long, long time ago. My Master was Aghor-Nath Sampradaya and He was certainly a devotee of Lord Shiva. Though to hear Him speak, one would certainly think Him to be more a devotee of the Maa.
The Aghori are avid Goddess worshipers. They worship both, Mother and Father forces. They are one in the same to a Baba. As is often said, without Shiva, there is no Shakti and vice versa. And none will tell you that they are greater devotees than the Nath or Naga or the little boy down the lane.
Finally, throw your stereotypes away. The Aghori are absolutely NOT engaged in animal sacrifice at any time. There is something like the Khanda Mandha Yoga legends and this and that, and there’s something pretty extreme sometimes, too, but in general there is a great misunderstanding concerning their practices and for better or for worse, neither do they much concern themselves with being understood or misunderstood. But I tell you from experience, their compassion for Nature is boundless. Their compassion for humanity is boundless. They see the Mother in every living thing. And the Father in Everything first and last.
…is a Saiva Tantrika, Gyana Yogi and founder of Uma Maheshwara Yoga & Ayurveda. David has an MA in Semiotics, lives in Japan with his family and works as a coach in L & D, devoting his time to developing science-based tools and programs that help people reach the fullest potential of the human condition.