The brown rudraksh rosary bead hung floppily from one of the blood-stained prongs of the dual-pronged metal stand resembling an over-sized tuning fork. A painted human skull lay at the base along with some wilted red hibiscus; forehead of the skull smeared in vermillion and ashes. Few burning pyres were visible indistinctly; the curly ashen smoke emanating from the inferno and the mist of an early winter morning blurred vision. The shrill cries of “Jay Tara” and “Bum Tara” coupled with the heady smell of incense, moist earth, burning corpses and ganja evoked a strange queasiness in me.I stood on the cremation ground of Tarapith village, located above the ghats of the Dwarka River in Birbhum district of Bengal which also happens to be the epicenter of the marginalized ancient Tantrismin India. According to popular legend, when Lord Vishnu severed the corpse of the self- immolated goddess Sati, her third eye fell on earth, where the present day aatchala (8 roofs) temple was erected.Devotees believe that the deity worshipped here, “Tara”, reputed as the most wild and willful of Hindu goddesses’ preferred abode remains not in the confines of the temple but in the shrouded mysticism of the burning ground, a stone’s throw away.After offering prayers in the main temple, I joined my fellow worshippers to the burning ghat to pay homage. Unlike the morbidity of crematories, Tarapith brims with life as it is the home to living tantrics who have built under the banyan trees, their own thatched huts and adorned them with eerie trinkets of skull garlands, scattered bones of avians and mammals, tridents, images of goddess in her myriad forms and strewn flowers. The tantrics are ash-smeared, dreadlocked and mostly naked. Death is a common sight for them while sadhna or practice forms an integral part of their lives. Most of their rituals are vilified as dark magic and sorcery as apparently they are dangerous and radical in nature. Erotico-mystical practices like sexual intercourse with lower caste partners, consumption of flesh and wine, befriending human skulls are prohibited in mainstream society due to which these mystics are dreaded more than being venerated.Akin to others I too dismissed these outcastes as maverick skull feeders and just as I was heading towards exit, I was caught unaware of the surprise the goddess had planned for me. My blood curdled and a chill ran down my spine as I froze on the ground, gasping, eyes fixated on a burning pyre few feet away. A grotesque half-burnt corpse has stood up from it’s wooden bed, sitting erect with the spine curved outwards in broad daylight!“Do not fear child, the man was poor. His family couldn’t afford enough logs to cover him up properly”,the baritone of a dark-skinned, athletic, and middle-aged tantric, enjoying a deep drag of ganja from his chillum, jolted me out of my stupor.“If the deceased is burned without the encumbering layer of logs on top, it tends to curve progressively outwards as the flesh melted”, he added.A conversation later I realized that these enlightened lunatics believe deeply in their practice without trying to convince others. They tend to flout the social norms and regulations by making use of forbidden objects and rituals to attain spirituality. Tantra has been woefully neglected and is considered to be the unwanted stepchild of Hinduism. By being tolerant towards heterogenous customs and practices with a distinct Otherness, we can make an attempt to preserve a centuries old tradition from the brink of extinction.