The translation of the term Kula in English is considered difficult and has raised some problems for researchers. The basic meaning is “family”, “group” or “self-contained unit”. This is explained by Flood as referring to the retinues of minor goddesses depicted in the schools’ literature.
Philosophically the term is said to represent a unifying connectedness, beneath the various objects, processes and living entities of this world, which may be identified with these goddesses as aspects of the supreme deity, in some regions the god Shiva, elsewhere a goddess. Another meaning sometimes given to the term kaula is that of a “group of people” engaged together in the practice of spiritual discipline.
Kaula practices are based on tantra, closely related to the siddha tradition and shaktism. Kaula sects are noted for their extreme exponents who recommend the flouting of taboos and social mores as a means of liberation. Such practices were often later toned down to appeal to ordinary householders, as in Kaśmiri Śaivism.