In a brief clip on the CNN show Believer, the show’s host Reza Aslan participated in an Aghori ritual in which he seemed to ingest human brains.
Even though Aslan went to great pains to emphasize that cannibalism is a fringe religious practice, even among the Aghori, the episode drew criticism. In particular, some groups were concerned that viewers would be unable to distinguish between Aghori practices and mainstream Hinduism and thus the show unwittingly promotes the stigmatization of Hindus. For others, however, the controversy is beside the point, the real question is: ‘what do human brains taste like?’ To that, Aslan replied, “Charcoal.”
Cannibalism has a lengthy history. In the fifth century BCE, Herodotus, the world’s first social historian, spoke with horror about the cannibalistic practices of the Issedones (from the Ural mountain region), the Massagetae (from central Asia), the Scythians (from the Eurasian steps), and the Kallatiae (Indians, near the Indus river).