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Kaula (Skt.). Both an important school of Tantrism whose adherents constitute the ‘family’ (kula) of Śakti, and a theological term with many levels of meaning. The Kaula school reinterprets the teachings of the Kula, rejecting the narrow sectarian bias of the Kula's Kāpālika origins. The Kūlārṇava Tantra represents the Kaula as a distinct system which maintains the union of Śiva and Śakti as the absolute reality, and advocates the secret ritual of the pañca-makāra. Emphasizing secrecy, the text defines a Kaula as one who is privately a Śākta, outwardly a Śaiva and among people a Vaiṣṇava. Among the meanings of Kaula as a theological term are śakti (as opposed to Śiva who is akula), Kuṇḍalinī, ‘body’, and ‘universe’.

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