Difference between aghora and kapalika by Santhosh kumar Athaluri

Jul 23, 2023 - 18:59

Aghora and Kapalika are two distinct and often misunderstood sects within the broader umbrella of Hinduism, both of which have unconventional practices. Here are the key differences between them:


  1.  Aghora is a unique and lesser-known sect that is a form of tantra within Hinduism. It emphasizes the transcendence of societal norms and religious boundaries, often taking on practices that are considered taboo. Some of the key aspects of Aghora are:
  2. Ritual Practices: Aghoris engage in intense and unorthodox ritual practices, including meditating in cremation grounds, using human skulls as bowls, and consuming things like meat and alcohol that are typically forbidden in mainstream Hinduism.

  3. Spiritual Perspective: Aghoris believe in confronting their fear of mortality and understanding the impermanence of life by meditating on death and viewing it as a natural and transformative process.

  4. Liberation: Like other spiritual seekers, Aghoris aim to attain liberation (moksha) by transcending worldly attachments and ego through their unconventional practices.


  1.  Kapalika is another ancient sect within Hinduism that is known for its extreme and macabre practices. The Kapalikas were historically associated with the worship of Lord Shiva and were considered to be fierce ascetics. Some of the key aspects of Kapalika are:
  2. Skull-Bearers: The name "Kapalika" is derived from the word "kapala," which means skull. Kapalikas were known for carrying human skulls, which they used as begging bowls or as offerings in their rituals.

  3. Tantric Rituals: Kapalikas practiced certain tantric rituals, some of which were ritualistically unconventional and involved invoking divine powers through the use of human remains.

  4. Controversy: The Kapalika sect was often associated with antisocial and violent practices in ancient texts, but historical accounts suggest that the depiction of the sect may have been exaggerated by rival religious groups.

Key Difference between Aghora and Kapalika:

While both Aghora and Kapalika involve unconventional and intense practices, there are some differences between the two:

  • Aghora is a sect that focuses on tantra and aims for spiritual growth and self-realization. It emphasizes confronting mortality and transcending societal norms to attain liberation.

  • Kapalika, on the other hand, is associated with a particular form of Shiva worship and is known for its use of human skulls and tantric rituals, which have often been considered controversial and extreme.

It's important to note that these sects represent only a small and often misunderstood part of Hinduism, and the majority of Hindus do not follow or support such practices. The vast majority of Hindus follow mainstream religious practices and value principles of peace, compassion, and harmony.

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