Can any experts here, please enlighten me, who are the Goddesses,having skull-cup in one hand.

Though I heard that Goddess Kaali & Chanmunda are two of them. But why are they carrying skull cup- *kapaalahastam *?

And would like to know what's the significance of kapaalahastam? just like varada mudra or Abhaya mudra, am curious to know what this "kapaalahastam" provides?

I meant, having a kapala in HER hands, what kind of boons or (( any kind of negativity it emits ??)) or whats the kind of bhaava SHE has?

  • 1
    Could you rephrase this question: "does this "kapaalahastam" provides "what" ?" It looks unclear at the moment.
    – TheLittleNaruto
    Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 16:44
  • am stumped to see, why noone has tried to answer my doubt. please enlighten , on the kapalahastam. whats the significance of kapalam in Goddess Bhadrakaali's hands or other goddesses and Gods
    – samolpp2
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 16:49
  • There you go! Let me know if the Posted answer is what you're looking for. I'll award my bounty then.
    – TheLittleNaruto
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 18:03
  • @Partha Don't worry I care less. If someone is getting an answer after losing some "hard earned" rep, that's fine for me :)
    – TheLittleNaruto
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 6:04
  • @TheLittleNaruto that really nice of you. but as i told, its not fine for me:)
    – user17294
    Commented Feb 27, 2019 at 6:06

2 Answers 2


please enlighten me, who are the Goddesses,having skull-cup in one hand

Goddess KAli:

Goddess Kali has numerous forms such as GuhyakAli, SmashAna KAli, Bhadra KAli, ShyAmA KAli, Dakshina KAli etc. The disciples who are initiated into the Bija mantra Krim, shall have to worship the Goddess with the following Dhyanam:

ShavArudhAm mahAbhimAm ghoradamshtrAm varapradAm |
HAsyayuktAm trinetrAncha kapAl katrikA karAm ||
Muktakeshim lolajihvAm pivantim rudhiram muhuh |
Chatur vAhu samAyuktAm varAbhayakarAm smaret ||

So, in this form the Goddess is holding a skull-cup in one of her hands.

KapAl katrikA karAm -- holding skull-cup and katrikA (a kind of bent sword like weapon)

Also, KapAla hastam is not the same as Vara abhaya karAm (even the DhyAnam I have given has this description). Vara Mudra etc are postures of hand where as Kapala Hastam signifies that she is holding a skull-cup in one of her hands.

Vara Mudra - Boon-granting hand postures; Abhaya Mudra - Mudras dispelling fear (of the devotess).

Source - Ahnika Krityam, Prathama BhAga - edited and commented upon by Sri Shyama Charan Kavi Ratna Varidhi.

Goddess ChAmunda:

I have checked her DhyAnam (Om kAli karAla vadanA .. etc - the one used during Sandhi Puja of Durga Puja ) and she is not depicted as holding a skull-cup in it.

Goddess TArA:

She is the 2nd MahAvidyA and she is holding a skull-cup in one of her 4 hands.

Nila Tantram's 4th Patalah has the DhyAna Sloka from which we get:

Khadaga katri samayukta savyetaram bhujadvayAm |
KapAlotpala samyukta savyetarabhujadvayam ||

Therefore, the 4 hands are holding a Khadga, a Katri, a lotus and a skull-cup.

DakshinA KAli:

For this form of the Goddess, there are many mantras and hence many DhyAnam. In some of those forms, she is having a Nara KapAla.

HAsyayuktAm trinetrAncha kapAlakatrikAkarAm || (TantrasArah; Siddheswara Tantram).

So, one hand is holding the kapAla.

Katrincha kharparanchaiva kramAdvAmena vibhrati || (Viswa SAra Tantram)

Kharpara is nothing but a half-skull.

NityA Devi:

She is another Goddess who's having the skull cup.

ArdgendumaulimarunAmamarAbhivandyAmambhojapAsha srini purnakapAla hastAm ||

Ucchista ChandAli MAtangi:

She is also holding it.

KapAlakatrikAhastAm param jyotiswarupinim || (TantrasArah)

Chandogra ShulapAni:

She has four arms and she is holding it in one of her right hands.

Shulam kapAlam dakshe tu vAme tu pAshamankusham || (TantrasAra; KubjikA Tantram)

Other DashamahAvidyAs:

None of them have it like ChinnamastA, Bhairavi, BagalAmukhi etc.

Jaya DurgA, Sulini DurgA, Mahishi mardini, AnnapurnA, TriputA ---- None of these deities also hold a skull-cup (checked their DhyAnam).

Significance of holding a skull in the hand:

According to Srimat Swami Paramatmananda Natha Bhairava (Giri):

"The aspirant needs some amount of dispassion (Vairagya) in order to progress in the path of spirituality.

And, the end destination for a human being, who's having all sorts of desires etc, is in the cremation ground, and in the form of a Nara-kapAla (skull).

By holding the skull-cup, Goddess is helping to cultivate a sense of Vairagya in the aspirant's mind".

  • 1
    Sriman, Dhanysomi....
    – samolpp2
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 8:50
  • No problem bro .. Btw greetings for Fed100 :) @SaMolPP
    – Rickross
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 9:03
  • Please clear my doubt, who is Chandogra ShulapAni?
    – Boovanaes
    Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 1:28
  • She is a deity from Kubjika Tantram .. she also holds a skull cup in her hand @BoovanaesS
    – Rickross
    Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 6:49

enter image description hereThere are numerous forms of Gods and Goddesses who holds narakapala or kapalapatra in hand as per different Tantras and Puranas. The Dakshina-Kali (The Ekakshari Form),Ugra- Tara(**image as per the dhyana-mantra enclosed on top of the answer),Ekjata-Tara, Bhadrakali, Siddhakali, Mahakali etc are few of them**.(Reference: For the dhyana-mantras from differnt sources with meanings in bengali, please see 'Sastramulak Bharatiya Saktisadhana, Upendrakumar Das, RMIC, vol 1, chapter 11).One image of Ekakshari Dakshina Kali at Puri Sri Omkarnath Nilachal Ashrama is enclosed (bottom) where Devi is holding kapala-patra in lower left hand.Perhaps this is the inly idol of Ekakshari Kali in India.

Narakapaala can be of two types: one used as 'kapaala-patra' or a pot for drinking blood or wine or it can be 'nara-munda' i.e. human head.

Devi bestows liberation by giving tattva-jnana and never leaves a devotee as the devotee is very dear to Her. This is implied by the nara-kapaala or human-head.(Reference: Sastramulak Bharatiya Shaki-sadhana, Upendrakumar Das, RMIC, vol 1, page 474).

On the other hand, the wine in the kapaala-patra

represents that Supreme knowledge, that gives bliss.So the wine holding in hand means Devi is full of Bliss of Brahma-jnana. (Ibid, page 478).

According to Swami Nigamananda, the wine means

Devi is drinking the wine of Attachment(Moha) and observing the plays of the Time (Kaala), Reference : Tantrik-Guru, Nigamananda, Sarasvata Math, page 58).

The blood in the kapaala-patra is

indicative of Rajo-Guna.(Ibid, page 473).

So it can mean that Devi removes Rajo-Guna of the devotee.

By the way the dhyana-mantra of Bhadrakali in Purascharyarnava shows Her drinking wine and blood and in Prapanchasaara-Tantra She is depicted holding nara-kapala.(lbid, page 486)

Devi Mahalakshmi drank madhu before killing Mahisasura, but She did NOT use kapala-patra(Sri Sri Chandi, chapter 3).And the Heads of Shumbha and Nishumbha were gifted to Devi Mshasaraswati by Devi Chamunda.

Such symbolic meanings are not accepted by all saints, as Devi has Her own form and She appears in front of the aspirant when the sadhana is successful. This is one of the best signs of mantra-siddhi,as per in Tantra-saara, as mentioned by Swami Nigamananda (Ibid, page 183).

There is no question of emitting negativity.In fact its taking up the negativity and bestowing positivity. and the bhava of God is always graceful to one who worships God with devotion.In Devi-Gita Devi says She always protects Her devotee.enter image description here

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