Acharyas were preceptors of the Kalachuri-Chedi kings.
This is probably the earliest known Saiva cult as suggested by the name and
Siva’s title of Lord of Animals (vasu ‘animal’ and pati lord’). The cult
flourished in Orissa and in western India from the 7th to the 11th centuries.
The founder of the Pasupata cult was Lakulisa, said to be an incarnation
of Siva. Lakulisa’s special emblem was a club (lakuta) which sometimes
symbolises the phallus. He is usually depicted naked and ithyphallic. The
latter state does not signify sexual excitement but sexual restraint by means
of yogic techniques.
The cult’s main text is the Pasupata Sutra attributed to Lakulisa. It is
primarily concerned with ritual and discipline. According to a 13th century
inscription Lakulisa had four chief disciples who founded four subsects. A
number of Pasupata temples were established in northern India from about
the 6th century onwards, but by the 11th century the movement was in decline.
The ultimate aim of the cult is to attain eternal union with Siva and
thereby overcome all pain and suffering. There are various stages to this goal.
In the first stage a follower serves in a temple and wears only one garment, or
will be naked. Later he leaves the temple, removes the sectarian marks, and
behaves in an idiotic or indecent way, thereby inviting the ridicule and
disgust of orthodox Hindus. The ridicule of others counteracts the devotee’s
own bad Karmic effects and transfers to him the merit of those who have
sworn at him. The indecent behaviour is a means of cutting off the devotee
from ordinary society and producing in him a state of tranquil detachment
and hence he should live in a cave, a derelict building or a cremation ground.
The remaining stages consist of increasingly difficult ascetic practices
leading to total control of the senses. After a long hard training the aspirant
attains a superhuman body like Siva’s and shares his omnipotence and nature.
The Pasupata movement is the only one to link liberation with the attainment
of paranormal powers.
Kapalikas and Kalamukhas