Kaula-dharma is in no wise sectarian, but, on the contrary, is the heart of all sects. This the true meaning of the phrase which, like many another touching the Tantra, is misunderstood, and used to fix the kaula with hypocrisy – antah-saktah, bahihsaivah, sabhayam vaisnavamatah, nana-rupadharah kaulah vicaranti mahitale; (outwardly Saivas; in gatherings, (1) Vaisnavas; at heart, Saktas; under various forms the Kaulas wander on earth).
A Kaula is one who has passed through these and other stages, which have as their own inmost doctrine (whether these worshippers know it or not) that of Kaulacara. It is indifferent what the Kaula’s apparent sect may be. The form is nothing and everything. It is nothing in the sense that it has no power to narrow the Kaula’s own inner life, it is everything in the sense that knowledge may infuse its apparent limitations with an universal meaning. So understood, form is never a bond. The Visva-sara Tantra says (2) of the Kaula that
“for him there is neither rule of time nor place. His actions are unaffected either by the phases of the moon or the position of the stars. The Kaula roams the earth in differing forms. At times adhering to social rules (sista), he at others appears, according to their standard, to be fallen (bhrasta). At times, again, he seems to be as unearthly as a ghost (bhuta or pisaca). To him no difference is there between mud and sandal paste, his son and an enemy, home and the cremation ground.”
At this stage the sadhaka attains to Brahma-jnana, which is the true gnosis in its perfect form. On receiving mahapurna-diksa he performs his own funeral rites and is dead to the samsara: Seated alone in some quiet place, he remains is constant samadhi, and attains its nirvikalpa form. The great Mother, the ‘Supreme Prakrti Mahasakti’, dwells in the heart of the sadhaka which is now the cremation ground wherein all passions have been burnt away. He becomes a Parama-hamsa, who is liberated whilst yet living (jivan-mukta).
It must not, however, be supposed that each of these stages must necessarily be passed through by each jiva in a single life. On the contrary, they are ordinarily traversed in the course of a multitude of births. The weaving of the spiritual garment is recommenced where, in a previous birth, it was dropped, on death. In the present life a sadhaka may commence at any stage. If he is born into Kaulacara, and so is a Kaula in its fullest sense, it is because in previous births he has by sadhana, in the preliminary stages, won his entrance into it. Knowledge of Sakti is, as the Niruttara-Tantra says, acquired after many births; and, according to the Mahanirvana-Tantra, it is by merit acquired in previous births that the mind is inclined to Kaulacara,
1. The vaisnavas are wont to gather together for worship singing the praise of Hari, etc.
2. Chapter XX IV.