Meaning of 'Kaul'

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Sat Dec 4 11:08:06 CST 1999

[Feel free to forward to ambaa-l if appropriate]

> On the other hand, the following also need to be taken into account.
> The devotees of Shri DevI may be roughly divided into two classes:
> the samayin-s or those who believe in the sameness of the Shakti and
> Shiva, and the Kaula-s or those who worship the KaulinI, i.e. the
> Shakti, which resides in the MUlAdhAra.
> The form of the worship of the samayin-s is exclusively internal.
> They believe in the rousing of the KunDalinI, the grossest form
> of the Cit and its being worked in successive stages by upAsanA,
> tapas and mantrajapa through the six chakrA-s, which are the
> centres of energy, on to the thousand-petalled lotus. This is
> where the Sat and the Cit abide and where the unification of the
> jeevAtman and the paramAtman is to be effected. The foremost
> exponent of samayAcAra is Shri Shankara bhagavatpAda.
> The form of worship of the kaula-s is mainly external. They worship
> the KunDalinI, even without rousing her from sleep and are satisfied
> with the attainment and enjoyment of purely temporal objects, believing,
> at the same time, that with the rousing of the KunDalinI, they attain
> liberation.

One of the foremost scholars of the 17th Century was Shri Bhaskararaya.
The scion of a distinguished family of Rgvedins, he was an Agnihotri and
performed the Vishwajit and other Somayajnas.  His erudition in Mimamsa
and Vedanta was also considerable and he always salutes Shankaracharya and
his four students at the beginning of his works.  The reason I mention
these things is to show he was hardly some antinomian rebel.  In fact Shri
Bhaskararaya meets the highest standards of Vedic orthodoxy.  Yet he
identifies himself as a Kaul.  In the couple of works of his I have read
(Saubhagyabhaskara on Lalitasahasranama and Guptavati on Chandipatha) he
doesn't seem to be particularly anti-upasana.  He does argue for the
necessity of external worship though.  Obviously his understanding of the
terms kaulachara and samayachara are different than those described above
(which are those expressed by Shri Lakshmidhar I believe.)

So my questions for learned Shrividya Upasakas are:

1.  What is the understanding of the contemporary inheritors of the
sampradaya on the meanings of the words Kaula and Kaulachara?

2.  Whose views are to be preferred, those of Shri Bhaskararaya or Shri
Lakshmidhar?  Or both?  Or neither?

3.  Is Shri Bhaskararaya justified in maintaining that Kaulachara is
compatibile with Vedic Dharma?

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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