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Fierce Form of the Shiva: Bhairava

The Shiva Mahapuranam recounts a discourse between Brahma and Vishnu, which is where Bhairava gets his name.  “Who is the supreme creator of the Universe?” Vishnu asked Brahma in it. Brahma, arrogantly, informed Vishnu that he should adore him as the Supreme Creator. Brahma had an idea one day “I have a total of five heads. Shiva has five heads as well. I am Shiva because I am capable of doing all Shiva does.” As a result, Brahma grew a little conceited.

Bhairava is Shiva’s most ferocious incarnation. He appears in Hindu mythology and is revered by Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists alike. In India and Nepal, he is revered. Bhairava is a wanderer with 64 different forms. They are divided into eight groups. Each category is led by one of the group’s great Bhairavas. The commanders are known as Ashtanga Bhairavas, and they are in charge of guarding and controlling the Universe’s eight directions.

Maha Swarna Kala Bhairava, also known as Kala Bhairava, is the one in charge of them. Bhairavi, the terrifying side of Parvati, is his consort. The Aghora sect mostly worships Kala Bhairava. During Shivaratri, Kashmiris, who are originally from Gorat, adore him.

Adi Shankaracharya describes Kaala Bhairava in the Kalabhairava Ashtakam. He is represented as a black-hued figure who is nude and carrying a garland of skulls. He has three eyes and four hands full with weapons of mass destruction. He’s also tangled up with snakes. The vehicle of Kaalabhairava is a dog. One can show devotion to Kaala Bhairava by feeding or caring for dogs. The god is the lord of Kashi and controls over death and time.

 

Origin of the name, Bhairava

Bhairava is derived from the word bhru, which meaning “dangerous.” Bhairava is a Sanskrit word that means “terrifyingly dreadful shape.” It’s also known as a person who kills fear or a person who is fearless. One interpretation is that he guards his followers against terrible adversaries, greed, desire, and fury. Bhairava defends his worshipers against these foes. These foes are deadly because they prevent humanity from seeking God within. Another interpretation is that Bha denotes creation, ra denotes sustenance, and va denotes annihilation. As a result, Bhairava is the one who brings the three stages of existence into being, sustains them, and dissolves them. Be a result, he is referred to as the ultimate or supreme.

The name literally means “awful” and “frightful,” but it can also imply as “protector” of his worshippers from both exterior and internal adversaries (negative emotions like lust, greed, anger, etc.). Another interpretation is that “Bha” stands for creation, “Ra” for preservation, and “Va” for destruction. As a result, Bhairava is the Ultimate Godhead, in whom all of these powers unite.

 

Legends Surrounding Bhairava

Bhairava is the subject of several legends. The Shiva Mahapurana is the source of the most renowned mythology. Once upon a time, the Trimurtis, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, argued about who was the Supreme Creator of the Universe. As the Creator, Brahma was a little egoistic. He also believed that because he, like Shiva, had five heads, he could accomplish everything Shiva could. As a result, he began interfering with Shiva’s everyday tasks.

Shiva was patient for a time, but he eventually lost it. He tossed down a little nail that he had removed from his finger. This nail transformed into Kaala Bhairava, who charged directly at Lord Brahma and slashed one of his five heads off. As a result, Bhairava is shown clutching Brahma’s skull in his hands. Brahma was humbled by this, and his ego was destroyed, granting him immediate knowledge. He dropped at Bhairava’s feet, deeply thankful, and pledged that from now on, he would only labour for the welfare of the Universe.

The Puranas describe a different account of Bhairava’s beginnings. There was once a battle between Gods and devils. Shiva created Kaala Bhairava to slay the demons. He gave birth to the Ashtanga Bhairavas, who wedded the Ashta Matrikas. The 64 Bhairavas and 64 Yoginis descended from the Ashta Bhairava and Ashta Matrikas.

Bhairava is a Protector deity that watches over all eight directions. He is also a defender of ladies, particularly those who are fearful. There will be a Bhairava idol in every Shiva temple. This idol is guarded by the temple keys. He is said to defend the temple once it has been closed for the night. As a result, he is also known as Kshetrapalaka (Guardian of the Temple).

Bhairava is also the Traveler’s Guardian, especially those who journey at night. Shani’s Guru is Kaala Bhairava (Saturn). In Tamil Nadu, he is revered as a Grama Devata, or Community Guardian, who guards the village and its inhabitants against threats from all eight directions. Bhairava worship can bring serenity, wealth, progeny, and success, as well as offspring. He is also thought to protect people from melancholy, early death, debt, and catastrophe.

 

The Significance of the Kalabhairava Ashtakam

Lord Shiva manifests himself in a variety of the forms and the  avatars (manifestation of a deity in physical body form). His Pashupatinath and Vishwanath avatars are also well-known, despite the fact that his initial austere form is respected. The Kalabhairava, on the other hand, is one of Lord Shiva’s most terrifying forms. In the Kalabhairava Ashtakam, Adi Shankaracharya describes this form of Shiva as being naked, black, wrapped with a garland of the 1skulls, three eyes, weapons of devastation in his four hands, and snakes.

Daily recitation of the Kalabhairava Ashtakam bestows life wisdom and emancipation. It has the ability to liberate people from grief, attachment, and illusion, all of which lead to sorrow, greed, poverty, rage, and suffering. Kaalabhairava is the lord of the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether), or pancha bhootas. He provides us with all we need in life, including the knowledge we desire. We can achieve the joy that comes with the deepest stage of Samadhi, when all anxieties fall away, by worshipping Kaalabhairava.

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