By Swami Harshananda
The literal meaning of the word is ‘clan’ or ‘family’. It has been used in a more technical sense in the tāntrik literature. ‘Kula’ is interpreted as ‘Śakti’ or the ‘Divine Mother’. The disciplines of the tantras advocating her worship are known as ‘Kaulamārga’ or ‘Kaulācāra’.
As per this definition, kula also mean the spiritual lineage from the guru to the disciple. The Adiguru or Primeval Teacher of this lineage is Śiva Himself. Kula, vaṅśa or gotra (lineage) is a very important factor considered especially in the settling of marriages.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore