Pasupata movement. They reduced the diversity of creation into two
elements–the Lord and creator and the creation that emanated from him.
Unfortunately none of their works are extant, sensational and disparaging
allusions are made to them in the Puranas and other literature belonging to
the seventh century and later.
According to a few inscriptions and literary references the Kapalikas
originated in about the 6th century in the Deccan or in south India. By the 8th
century they began to spread northwards; but by the 14th century they had
almost died out, their decline being hastened by the rise of the popular
Lingayat movement, or perhaps they merged with other Saivite Tantric
orders such as the Kanphatas and the Aghoris.
The Kapalikas (Skull-bearers) were adherents of an ancient ascetic order
centred on the worship of the terrifying aspects of Siva, namely, Mahakala
and Kapalabhrit (he who carries a skull) and Bhairava. They were
preoccupied with magical practices, and attaining the ‘perfections’ (siddhis).
All social and religious conventions were deliberately flouted. They ate
meat, drank intoxicants, and practised ritual sexual union as a means of
achieving consubstantiality with Siva. The devotees ate from bowls fashioned
from human skull and worshipped Siva. They would carry a triple staff, pot,
and a small staff with a skull-shaped top (khatvanja).
The Kalamukhas flourished in the Karnataka area from about the 11th to
the 13th century. They drank from cups fashioned from human skull as a
reminder of man’s ephemeral nature, and smeared their bodies with the ashes
of cremated corpses.
The teachings of both cults are similar. Both took the ‘Great Vow’
(mahavrata) whose significance is now unknown, and yoga was mandatory.
Human sacrifices and wine were offered to Bhairava and his consort
This was a Tantric movement, now extinct, and said to have consisted of two
branches–the pure (suddha) and the dirty (malin). Aghoris were the
successors of the Kapalika cult. Among the female divinities worshipped
were Sitala, Parnagiri Devi (the