The Kalamukha were a medieval Shaivite sect of the Deccan Plateau who were among the first professional monks of India. Their earliest monasteries were built in Mysore. Information regarding the Kalamukha sect takes the form of inscriptions relating to temple grants and texts usually written by their opponents. They appear to have been an offshoot of the Pashupata sect , about whom more is known. The rise of the Kalamukhas to a position of influence coincided with the popularisation of the agama texts of Shaivism, and they are shown in the Tirumandiram as one of the six schools of thought to emerge from the agamas. The former of these were found over a wide-ranging area and the latter were mostly concentrated around the districts of Dharwar and Shimoga.
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Kapalika and Kalamukha , members of either of two groups of Shaivite devotees of Shiva ascetics , most prominent in India from the 8th through the 13th century, who became notorious for their practices of esoteric rituals that allegedly included both animal and human sacrifice , though there is no evidence for the latter. They were successors of the Pashupata s, one of the earliest sects. Kapala-mochana was subsequently the site of a great temple. During the period of that vow, ascetics ate and drank from a skull alleged to be that of the person they had sacrificed and followed practices such as going naked, eating the flesh of the dead, smearing themselves with the ashes of corpses, and frequenting cremation grounds.
Other Hindus, Shaivites in particular, were enraged by such practices. Some otherwise puzzling sculptures on medieval Indian temples are sometimes explained as depicting Kapalika ascetics. An inscription at Igatpuri in Nasik district Maharashtra state confirms that the Kapalika were well established in that region in the 7th century. Another important centre was probably Shriparvata modern Nagarjunikonda in Andhra Pradesh.
From there they spread throughout India. In an 8th-century Sanskrit drama, Malatimadhava , the heroine narrowly escapes being sacrificed to the goddess Chamunda by a pair of Kapalika ascetics. Successors to the Kapalikas in modern times are the Aghoris, or Aghorapanthis, although the latter do not follow all Kapalika practices.
Kapalika and Kalamukha. Article Media. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. See Article History. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Their belief was that an ostentatious indifference to anything…. Some of the Pashupatas also developed the more moderate Shaiva-siddhanta school, whose philosophical teachings became not only acceptable but also central to modern Shaivism.
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Kapalika and Kalamukha