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Kapalik (or Kapali) has been mentioned as a lower sub-caste of Bengal in writings dating from the 12th and 13th centuries. Kapaliks claim to be descendants of Buddhists who came to Bengal from Kashmir. Another legend describes Kapaliks as descendants of Saivite female ascetics from Karnataka. In Bengal, this community is known both as Vaishya Kapali or Kapali. Both Vaisya Kapali and Kapali are recognised as backward classes (jaties) in west bengal.

Previously the community used the 'Kapali' surname extensively, but subsequently adopted socially more dignified titles such as Sikder, Das, Roy, Sarkar, Basu, Mitra, Ghose, Biswas, which are also used by the kayasthas of Bengal. Kapaliks are farmers and tradesmen. Many of them are highly educated and well established in society. [Hiralal Bala]