Sex for Liberation – Bhubaneswar’s Vaital Deula

On a busy road in the heritage district of Bhubaneswar is located Vaital Deula to what the Bhubaneswarias call Tinimundia Mandira because of its three amalaka crowns placed in a straight line over a boat shaped mastaka.


The temple breaks the convention of Odiya style. Built in the style of a Buddhist chaitya, the temple represents khakkara architecture, a very rare version among Odishan temples.  Its name is equally cryptic.  According to some historians its name has been derived from the boat shaped shikhara which in Odiya is known as boita, hence Vaital or Baitala. A few other historians link it with boitalu or pumpkin because of the similar appearance. But after reading Dr. K.C. Panigrahi’s timeless account ‘Archaeological Remains at Bhubaneswar’ I am convinced that  it is derived from vetala, the spirit worship in the Kapalika form of esoteric Shaivism that was widely prevalent in Bhubaneswar in the 8th century CE, when the temple had been built.

Kapalikas worshipped Bhairava/Shiva and his consort Chamunda and the central ritual of Tantric communion is sexual intercourse.


According to a commentary in a Kapalika text –

‘The human participants of the ritual mentally identify themselves with Shiva and Shakti respectively. In the bliss of sexual union the human pair realize the divine bliss of Shiva and Shakti. Ultimate reality is symbolized as Non Duality and is attained by the union of two polar aspects, static and dynamic, represented as Shiva and Shakti, male and female.  This union of opposites or Non Dual state is conceived as supreme bless or ananda’.


In Tantric sadhana sexual union was converted into a ritual carried out under controlled conditions, often taking place in a mardala or mystic circle and under the supervision of a guru.


In a Tantric ritual of yore a woman was the active principle (prakriti) as she held the limitless capacity to create while the man (purusha) was static.

The idea propounded by the Kapalikas on blissful living through sex had a huge draw. Even the Buddhists and Jains who would restraint to debate on sex were drawn to its philosophy. Initially they objected, but the Kapalikas succeeded in converting them through a provocation like this –

‘Nowhere is happiness seen without objects of pleasure. If liberation is a stage of the self without the experience of pleasure, how can a state equal to that of a stone be desired? Mrdanipati (Shiva) has said that the liberated one having a body (equal to that of Shiva whose body is decorated) with the crest – ornament of the moon enjoys the pleasant embrace of his beloved who is an image of Parvati’.


For conversion Kapalikas introduced faith, a Kapalini as a woman of passion. Kapalini appeared with her sleepy eyes, tremulous like the blue lotus, beautifully adorned with the garland of human bones, bent with the weight of her buttock and large breasts, her face resembled the full moon.

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Directed by a Kapalika, the Kapali would embrace a Buddhist mendicant. The mendicant would also embrace her body saying ‘Oh! How delightful is touch of this Kapalini. How often I have ardently embraced without with swelling breasts, pressing their big breasts with my arms with great passion! But by the Buddha I swear a hundred times that nowhere have I attained such pleasure as derived from the embrace of big swelling bosom of the Kapalini. Oh good Sir, we have forsaken the doctrine of Buddha completely. We have accepted the doctrine of Paramesvara. Thereafter you are my teacher and I am your disciple. Initiate me into the teaching of Parameswara.’

This sounds like today’s corporate wars, how well you package your products and services and ruin your competitors. Throughout history we have shown our weakness for sex and intoxication. The Kapalikas had well understood the weak points in human desires and created products that became the ultimate cause for ruining other religions, such as Buddhism and Jainism in Odisha. Indian films today have adopted the same formula.

Even Jain monks also followed the same suit denouncing the Digambar faith declaring ‘certainly the Kapalika’s philosophy is the only means to give happiness and liberation. ‘O Kapalika! We have become your slave now. Initiate us into the teaching of Mahabhairava’.


A Kapalika then took up a vessel full of alcohol and ask the Jian monks to drink saying, ‘drink this pure nectar which is the medicine for worldly existence. Bhairava has said that this is the instrument to remove the bandage of the soul’.  

Though hesitant at first the Jains drank following a Kapali who drank first. Enthralled by its taste soon they fell asleep.

Kapalikas then held the Kapalini – ‘We have obtained two slaves without any payment. So let us dance’.

Vaitala Deula was a great centre of Kapalika worship. The name as said earlier been derived from the word vetala or spirit with the help of which the Kapalikas wanted to attain their siddis. In chapter 27 of the text Svannadri-mahadoya there is a reference to Vaitala Deula saying that the venerable goddess Chamunda garlanded with skulls exists at a spot on the west not far from Bindu Sagar and that she is of tantric form and is known as Kapalini.

Human and animal sacrifices were integral to Kapalika ritual at Vaital Deula. The lower part of the stone pillar that is placed in front of the temple is the remnant of a yupa. The interior of the temple is intensely dark providing the right condition for secret awful esoteric rites.


Today all that Kapalika rites that were once a common sight in Bhubaneswar may sound murky as the present Hinduism revolve around the idea of sanatan philosophy. A deeper insight I gained from writing this is the reason of a sudden disappearance of Buddhism and Jainism from Bhubaneswar where it had strong hold for centuries prior to the 9th century.




2 Comments Add yours

  1. Katherine K. Brobeck says:

    beautiful post. Thank you.

    1. jitumisra says:

      Thank you so much Katherine.

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