Mahakapalika Tantra and Tradition

Kapalika is one of the prominent sects of Shaivism tradition which believes in perfection of human mind for the perfection of the human life. The Kapalikas believe that the mind is the centre of all day to day human activity. The mind is also believed to be the gateway to unlock the various mysterious of human mind and the infinite universe. Based on ‘Siddha Dharma’, Kapalikas are no different then Aghora and Kaulikas because they are all rungs of same ladder of ‘Shaivism’ tradition. The perfection of one leads to the perfection of another. They are all complimentary to each other.


The word ‘Kapalika’ is derived from the root word Kapala (कपाल). As per ‘Siddha Dharma’, the kapala translates to mind. Therefore, the ‘Siddha Dharma’ says that the ‘Kapalika’ is the path of human mind. It is the path to perfection of human mind. Since, we are all also a mini universe or the microcosm and the outer universe is the macrocosm, both are principally one and the same. Therefore, as per ‘Siddha Dharma’, if one unlocks the human mind, the person also unlocks the secrets of the infinite universe. In short, a Kapalika when perfects the mind, they transform themselves to ‘Shiva’ from shava(corpse).

Iconography and Chattels (tantric belongings) of Kapalikas

As per ’Siddha Dharma’, the Kapalikas do not have a particular iconography because it is one of the highest state one can achieve through tantra. Therefore, ‘Siddha Dharma’, portrays a Kapalika as a ‘Shiva’ holding his various chattels or personal tantric belongings. The chattels of Kapalikas are given below:

a) Vajra

b) Trishula (trident)

c) Naramunda (human skull)

d) Khappar (skull cap)

e) Tantric yantra

f) Moon on forehead

g) Damaru (tantric instrument for sound)

Origin Story

As per the legends of ’Siddha Dharma’, the origin of Kapalika tantra is attributed to Swachanda Shiva and his shakti, Aghoreshwori Kurukulla. As per the Mahakapalika Kalpa agama of ‘Siddha Dharma’, Aghoreshwari Kurukulla once asked her consort and her lord Swachanda Shiva reveals her about the nature of human existence. She asks her lord that the human life is full of suffering so why did he create the universe at first place? Swachanda Shiva smiled and replied to her that the world is not full of sufferings but full of bliss. His sole purpose of creating the universe and all the sentient beings was purely for bliss. He also reveals her that the human life is pathway to bliss. It is the separation from bliss that a jiva suffers. The jiva suffers in the absence of bliss.  Aghoreshwari Kurukulla then asks her consort how could one achieve bliss as mentioned by him. 

Lord Shiva as Swachanda Bhairava replies her that the human body is a ‘Kalpavriksh’ (the wish fulfilling tree). The roots of the kalpavriksh is the mooladhara chakra where it takes all its nutrients and energy from. The top part of the tree, full of flowers and fruits which is dome shaped is the sahasrar chakra or the crown chakra. The uncountable leaves are the neurones inside the human mind. He further tells her that the only way to unlock the inner kalpavriksh is through wisdom. As per ‘Siddha Dharma’, Swachanda Bhairava tells her that the human mind can only be locked by wisdom and wisdom forms. When the kalpavriksh is unlocked then any wishes made in front of it,  is ultimately materialised or fulfilled.

Swachanda Bhairava further reveals to Aghoreshwari Kurkulla that a person only suffers when the inner kalpavriksh is not unlocked. Once unlocked, the kalpavriksh fulfils the wishes of the sentient being and all the wishes are fulfilled which ultimately leads to bliss. It is therefore the Kapalika perseveres day and night to perfect the inner kalpavriksh to ultimately attain bliss.

Pre-requisites for Kapalika Tradition and Tantra

As per ‘Siddha Dharma’, there is a pre-requisite and pre-conditions to learn Kapalika Tantra. The seeker should be proficient or if not knower of various wisdom forms which aids in the practice of Kapalika practices. The requirements to learn Kapalika tantra is to be proficient in the following wisdom forms:

a) Siddha Paddhati Chikitsa (ayurveda)

b) Deha Bhedana Chikitsa (surgery)

c) Sammohan (hypnosis)

d) Jyotisha (astrology)

e) Mantra

f) Varna Siddhanta (color)

g) Bhojan shastra (appetite and culinary) 

h) Darshan Vidhya (Logics and semantics)

i) Kala ( arts and aesthetics)

j) Shabda Varana Kaushala (grammar and linguistics)

k) Deha Kaushalam (physical fitness)

Purification Methods of Kapalikas

As per ‘Siddha Dharma’, the Kapalika needs to purify themselves based on their respective tantra and tantra procedures. The essence of the purification rituals is to cleanse the body, mind, perceptions, sensations and the judgements related to it. The rationale behind such purification is to cleanse the mind to such extreme that the mind acts based on its own free will and not through inner and outer inducement and influences. Following are the Shuddhi or the purification that is mandatory for all Kapalikas for the perfection of human mind and their sadhana.

  1. Manasika Shuddhi

  1. Baudhika Shuddhi
  2. Aatmika Shuddhi

Kapalika sutra

As per ‘Siddha Dharma’, there are some basic precepts or rules that the Kapalika has to follow. Some basic precepts are as given below:

a) Jigansha (curiosity and inquisitiveness)

b) Satya (the inquiry of the truth)

c) Anubhuti and Vyakhya (To experience the truth and reveal it to others)

d) Sama Darshana (Neutral to Darshana)

Philosophy of Kapalika 

As per ‘Siddha Dharma’, there are some core philosophies of Kapalika. They are:

a) Tat pinde yatha brahmande (the microcosm and macrocosm are one)

b) The philosophy of acting based on free will

c) The true nature of Swatantra (freedom) 

d) The path of ‘jiva’ to ‘Shiva’

The lineage and traditions of Kapalika

As per ‘Siddha Dharma’, the lineage and traditions of Kapalika started from Swachanda Shiva himself. He initiated his consort Aghoreshwari Kurukulla into the lineage and tradition of Kapalika. She then initiated various Rishi/Munis, Stri/Kanya, Devi/Devta, Naga, Siddhas etc into the lineage of Kapalika. Basically there are seven systems through which the lineage and traditions moved forward. The seven systems as per ‘Siddha Dharma’ are:

a) Shakta Krama

b) Shaiva Krama

c) Deva Krama

d) Rishi Krama

e) Naga Krama

f) Alinga Krama

g) Siddha Krama

As per ‘Siddha Dharma’, the ‘Kaulantak Peeth’ received the wisdom form from all the seven systems and His Holiness Mahasiddha Ishaputra was initiated into the lineage of Kapalika through his beloved guru, Mahasiddha Siddhanta Nath. Mahasiddha Ishaputra then initiated the modern Kapalikas.

Vajra Yogini and Kapalika

As per ‘Siddha Dharma’, Kapalika means one who perfects the inner ‘Kalpavriksha’. The Kalpavriksh is also called as the collective spine and the brain. The upper tree which consists of the flowers and fruits is incomplete without the lower parts like roots and stems. From the tree analogy, the ‘Siddha Dharma’ infers that the lower part of the Kalpavriksh is represented by Vajra Yogini while the upper part of leaves and fruits by Kapalika. The Vajra Yogini and Kapalika collectively forms the complete Maha Kapalika i.e. Guhya Kapali Rudra himself. 


As per ‘Siddha Dharma’, the literature of Kapalika is the “Mahakapalika Kalpa’. It is a tantric agama book which prescribes 7 patalas (levels). The patalas constitutes basic practices like shudhi  to the practice of Guhya Kapali Rudra and Rudrani in its main yantra. The book is soon to be released.