Were there any schools of Shaiva, Shakti, or Tantric philosophy that advocated human sacrifice?

If so, what were their arguments?

  • 3
    why single out these three traditions? this is whats called "push-poll" - the question is suggesting the answer. very despicable question.
    – S K
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 18:49
  • 2
    Many groups in the question makes the question too broad. Hence, there should be only some groups in the question. It is the choice of the OP about what they want to ask. We can't force to add all the group. There is nothing offensive in the question. Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 2:59

1 Answer 1


This excerpt from the Madhaviya Shankara Digvijaya, the traditional biography of Adi Shankaracharya, describes how Adi Shankaracharya went to Karnataka and encountered the Kapalikas, a Shaivite sect which practiced human sacrifice:

After a time, [Adi Shankaracharya] started towards the Karnataka country, but was warned by the king of Vidarbha that those regions were very dangerous, as they were full of Kapalikas who were followers of the cult of human sacrifice who condemned the Vedic religiod were, on the whole, a curse to humanity. They were not likely to tolerate the spread of the Acharya's influence in those regions.... He was soon opposed by Krachaka, the leader of the Kapalika cult. Krachaka was smeared all Vera with the ashes from the cremation ground, and in his hand were the skull and trident, the emblems of his cult.... [Krachaka said] "Without the offering consisting of the red lotus of a bleeding skull and liquor, how can the Bhairava, embraced by Uma, be pleased?" Thereupon king Sudhanva, who was accompanying the Acharya with his men, drove away Krachaka with the contemptuous words: "You wretch! Get away." ... Krachaka declared, flourishing his battle-axe, "I am not the famous Krachaka unless I reap a harvest of the heads of your fellows!"

But the Kapalika sect, like many Shaivite and Shakta sects, doesn't exists anymore, and its texts are lost, so we can't really examine its arguments.

On a side note, contrary to what some people claim, the Vedas do not prescribe human sacrifice; see my answer here.

  • 4
    wiki: "According to David Lorenzen, there is a paucity of primary sources on Kapalikas, and historical information about them is available from fictional works and other traditions who disparage them." it is 2018, but ancient hatreds still flourish.
    – S K
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 18:47
  • 1
    kausthub.com/explore/2013/4/8/who-are-the-kapalikas from a vaishnavite chap - says a lot of good things about them - this question seems based on ignorance and should be deleted.
    – S K
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 19:51
  • 1
    Aren't Aghori Sadhus similar to the Kapalikas?
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 20:54
  • i don’t think this is accurate at all. They were not doing any human sacrifice. Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 9:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .