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About Bhairava

Bhairava sometimes known as Kaala Bhairava, Kal Bhairab, Annadhaani Bhairava (In Karnataka), Bhairo or Bhairon or Bhairadya or Bheruji (In Rajasthan), Kaal Bhairava, Kaala Bhairavar or Vairavar (In Tamil), is the violent manifestation of Lord Shiva connected with annihilation. He is one of the most important deities in Nepal, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu, who originated in Hindu mythology and is sacred to Buddhists Jains, and Hindus alike.

Bhairavi is a violent and terrifying aspect of the Devi who is virtually identical from Kali, with the exception of her particular identification as the consort of Bhairava. Bhairava is portrayed decorated with a range of twisted serpents, which serve as bracelets, anklets, earrings, and sacred thread (yajnopavita). He wears a tiger skin and a ritual apron which is composed of human bones. Bhairava has a dog (Shvan) as his celestial vahana (vehicle).

Bhairava himself has eight manifestations i.e. Ashta Bhairava:
Asithaanga Bhairava
Ruru Bhairava
Chanda Bhairava
Krodha Bhairava
Unmattha Bhairava
Kapaala Bhairava
Bheeshana Bhairava
Samhaara Bhairava

Lord Bhairava is the main deity worshipped by the Aghora sect. Kala Bhairava is conceptualized as the Guru of the planetary deity Shani (Saturn). Bhairava is known as Vairavar or Bhairavar in Tamil where he is often presented as a Grama devata or village guardian who preserves the devotee on all eight directions (ettu tikku). Known in Sinhalese as Bahirawa, he protects treasures.


His temples or shrines are present within or near most Jyotirlinga temples, the sacred twelve temples dedicated to Shiva across India, including Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi and the Mahakaleshwar Temple at Ujjain, where at the Kal Bhairav Temple, he is worshipped by the Kapalika and Aghori sects of Shaivism, here one can also find the Vikrant Bahirav and Patal Bhairav temples.

Kaal Bhairava temples can also be found around Shakti Peethas, as it is said Shiva assigns the job of guarding each of 52 Shakti Peethas to one Bhairava. As such it is said there are 52 forms of Bhairava, which are in fact considered as sign of Shiva himself.

Traditionally Kal Bhairav is the Grama devata in the rural villages of Tamil Nadu Maharashtra and Karnataka, where he is referred to as "Bhaivara/Annadhani"Vairavar. In Karnataka, Lord Bhairava is the supreme God for the Vokkaliga community usually referred as "Gowdas", especially for the Gangadikara Gowda caste he is considered as the care taker and punisher.

Also another set of people in Kashmir that have their origin from Gorat, or the minister of Mata Sharika worship Bhairava during Shivratri.The Hindu reformer Adi Sankara has written a song on Kala Bhairava of Kashi which is called as Kala Bhairav Ashtakam.

Legends Associated with Bhairava

The origin of Bhairava can be traced to the conversation between Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma recounted in "Shiv Maha-Puran" where Lord Vishnu asks Lord Brahma who is the supreme creator of the Universe. Arrogantly, Brahma tells Vishnu to worship him because he (Brahma) is the supreme creator. This angered Shiva who then personified in the form of Bhairava to punish Brahma. Bhairava executed one of Brahma's five heads and since then Brahma has only four heads.

When portrayed as Kala Bhairava, Bhairava is shown carrying the severed head of Brahma. Cutting off Brahma's fifth head made him guilty of the crime of killing a Brahmin(Brahmahatyapap), and as a result, he had to carry around the spiritual skull for twelve years and roam as Bhikshatana, a mendicant, until he had been absolved of the sin.In the form of the frightful Bhairava, Shiva is said to be protecting each of these Shaktipeeths. Each Shaktipeeth temple is linked by a temple dedicated to Bhairava.


Bhairava Ashtami commemorating the day Kal Bhairav which emerged on earth and is celebrated on Krishna paksha Ashtami of the Margashirsha month of Hindu calendar with a day special prayers and rituals.



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