Kapalika, aka: Kāpālika, Kapālikā; 8 Definition(s)


Kapalika means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Dharmashastra (religious law)

Kāpālika (कापालिक) refers to “beggar”. The disguise of such a person is part of a five-fold group of spies (pañcavarga), according to Uśanas. The word is used throughout Dharmaśāstra literature such as the Manusmṛti. (also see the Manubhāṣya verse 7.154)

Source: Wisdom Library: Dharma-śāstra
Dharmashastra book cover
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Dharmashastra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharmaśāstra) contains the instructions (shastra) regarding religious conduct of livelihood (dharma), ceremonies, jurisprudence (study of law) and more. It is categorized as smriti, an important and authoritative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Kapalika in Purana glossary... « previous · [K] · next »

Kāpālika (कापालिक).—A heretical sect;1 their yoga.2

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 31. 65; Vāyu-purāṇa 58-64.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 27. 116.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Kapalika in Shaivism glossary... « previous · [K] · next »

Kāpālika (कापालिक).—Kāpālikas carried a skull with them according to all accounts, thus imitating Bhairava the Brahman-slayer. According to orthodox prescriptions, a Brahman-slayer had to expiate for his sin by living outside society for 12 years, carrying a skull as an alms bowl and a skull-topped staff. Te earliest mention of Kāpālikas is found perhaps in Hāla’s Saṭṭasaī, datable to the 3rd to 5th centuries CE but most of our sources on them come from the 7th to the 12th centuries CE.

Two religious meanings of Kāpālika: First, in a stricter sense, it denotes a particular Śaiva ascetic order, closely related to the Lākulas and the Pāśupatas. Second, in a wider meaning, it refers to a (usually Śākta) tantric practitioner who adopts the observance and possibly other practices of the original Kāpālikas.

From the Mattavilāsaprahasana we learn that Kāpālikas were to discard or distribute their possessions (saṃvibhāga), in the manner of other ascetic orders. They wore a loincloth (kaupīna) to cover themselves and kept only their bhairavic attributes, which included the skull-bowl and perhaps a snakeskin (ahicamma, representing one of Śiva’s attributes, the snake) for the Brahmanical thread (see yajñopavīta). Unlike other ascetic currents, Kāpālikas seem to have allowed women to receive full initiation.

Source: academia.edu: Kāpālikas
Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

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India history and geogprahy

Kāpālika (कापालिक).—The Kāpālas or Kāpālikas appear to have been closely related to the Somas, Saumas or Somasiddhāntins. This class of sectarian Śaiva faith seems to have originated very early on the religious stage of Ancient Indian History.

The Kāpālikas seem to have originated in south India, and Śrisailam happens to be their main center of activity. The aim of the Kāpālikas was not simply achieving divine bliss but attaining the magical yogic powers (Aṣta-siddhis), which were the most sought after in the traditional yogic practices which aim at the attainment of Siddhadeha and ultimately Divyadeha.

Source: DSpace at Pondicherry: Siddha Cult in Tamilnadu (historical)
India history book cover
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The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

Kapalika in Marathi glossary... « previous · [K] · next »

kāpālika (कापालिक).—a S Relating to kapāla the skull. 2 That worships Shiva after the vāmamārga order. He carries half a kapāla or skull as a drinking cup &c.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Kapalika in Sanskrit glossary... « previous · [K] · next »

Kapālikā (कपालिका).—

1) A potsherd; मही घटत्वं घटतः कपालिका कपालिका चूर्णरजस्ततोणवः (mahī ghaṭatvaṃ ghaṭataḥ kapālikā kapālikā cūrṇarajastatoṇavaḥ) Subhāṣ. Ms.4.76,8.25.

2) The tartar of the teeth.

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Kāpālika (कापालिक).—a. [kapāla-aṇ-ṭhak-vā]

1) Relating to skulls; कङ्कालं मुसलं घोरं कापालमथ किङ्किणीम् (kaṅkālaṃ musalaṃ ghoraṃ kāpālamatha kiṅkiṇīm) Rām.1.27.12.

2) like a beggar; of a beggar कापाली नृप पापिष्ठां वृत्ति- मासाद्य जीवितः (kāpālī nṛpa pāpiṣṭhāṃ vṛtti- māsādya jīvitaḥ) Mb.12.8.7.

-laḥ, -likaḥ A follower of a certain Śaiva sect (the left-hand order) characterized by carrying skulls of men in the form of garlands and eating and drinking from them; भस्मा- स्थिशकलकीर्णा कापालमिव व्रतं धत्ते (bhasmā- sthiśakalakīrṇā kāpālamiva vrataṃ dhatte) Pt.1.212.

-lam A kind of leprosy.

-lī 1 A wreath of skulls; कापालीमुद्वहन्ती स्रजमिव धवलां कौमुदीम् (kāpālīmudvahantī srajamiva dhavalāṃ kaumudīm) Mu.3.2.

2) A clever woman.

3) The Embelia Ribes (Mar. vāvaḍiṃga).

See also (synonyms): kāpāla.

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Kapālikā (कपालिका).—f.

(-kā) 1. The tartar of the teeth. 2. A potsherd. E. kapāla and kan aff.

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Kāpālika (कापालिक).—mfn.

(-kaḥ-kī-kaṃ) Relating or belonging to the skull. m.

(-kaḥ) A worshipper of Siva of the left-hand order, characterised by carrying a half of the skull as a cup, drinking spirituous liquors, &c. E. kapāla, and ṭhañ aff.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary
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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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