Outrage as CNN reporter eats human brains on air

Warning: This video contains footage that may disturb some viewers.

Religious scholar and TV host Reza Aslan has landed himself in hot water after an episode of his new programme Believer depicted him eating the brain of a deceased human in a spiritual ritual.

The act of cannibalism has drawn a massive backlash from the Hindu community, with many suggesting the Aghor tribe that part of the episode follows represent a very extreme and unconventional sect of the religion rejected by many within the faith.

A follow-up Facebook post from Aslan landed him in more trouble, when he appeared to make light of his consumption of the brain.

CNN's Aslan, a Muslim, has since been accused of making fun of Hinduism by focusing on the Aghori tribe, a fringe group in Hinduism.

The Aghoris have been known to take part in a number of unusual practices, such as drinking from human skulls, and eating human bodies and their own faeces. They also commonly smear the ashes of deceased humans on themselves, and sleep in cemeteries, according to the episode.

Representatives of the US India Political Action Committee (USIPAC) have hurled criticism at Aslan and the Believer show he hosts, calling his story on the Aghoris "completely baseless".

"Most Hindus are vegetarians and uphold non-violence. We are very disappointed," said USIPAC chairman Sanjay Puri.

"This is an issue that is of deep concern to the Indian American community evidenced by the large number of calls/emails we have received.

"In a charged environment, a show like this can create a perception about Indian Americans which could make them more vulnerable to further attacks."

Aslan has since explained himself on Facebook, saying he repeatedly stated on the episode that the Aghor tribe is "extreme", and rejects "the fundamental Hindu distinction between purity and pollution".

"I tried to ease the concerns of those who may have missed this fundamental distinction by providing multiple articles and videos on CNN.com that address the beliefs of Hinduism and debunk its myths.

"I also commissioned my good friend Varun Soni, America's first Hindu-American chaplain, to write an essay on the site addressing the complexities of the caste system, and why the Aghor fight so hard to remove it from Indian society."

However, he did apologise for causing offence, and for his treatment of issues like caste discrimination, which he admitted "remains a touchy subject in America".

"I have great sympathy for that position. But caste discrimination is a very real thing, and the attempts by the Aghor to overcome it using the principles of Hindu spirituality is important to highlight."