Kalabhairav Jayanti

God of Time and the fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva, Kala Bhairava kills the ego and takes one towards liberation

WORDS: MADHURI. Y

kalabhairava

Kala Bhairava is the fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva and is the wandering form of Lord Shiva. His birth is celebrated on the day of Kalabhairav Jayanti.
Also known as Mahakala Bhairavashtami and Kalabhairav Ashtami, Kalabhairav Jayanti is observed on the eighth day of Krishna Paksha (waning moon phase) during the month of Kartik. This year, it falls on 10th November. It is considered more auspicious when the day occurs on a Tuesday or Sunday, the days dedicated to Kala Bhairav.
He is also known as Dandapani, since he holds a rod to punish sinners, and as Swaswa which refers to his mount being a dog. Yet another name for him is Maha Swarna Kala Bhairava and his consort is Bhairavi, the fierce Goddess associated with the ten Mahavidyas.
Kala Bhairava rules the 64 Bhairavas who are grouped under the eight Ashtanga Bhairavas, guarding the eight directions. Each Ashtanga Bhairava heads a group of seven Bhairavas, totaling 64 Bhairavas.

According to the Sringeri Sharada Pitham, the Ashtanga Bhairavas are as follows:Kala Bhairava
Asitanga Bhairava
Samhara Bhairava
Ruru Bhairava
Krodha Bhairava
Kapala Bhairava
Rudra Bhairava
Unmatta Bhairava
Kala Bhairava is known to destroy fear and protect devotees from greed, lust and anger, allowing devotees to seek God within themselves. He is also believed offer protection from enemies and to pilgrims and travellers. It is also believed that worshipping Kala Bhairava nullifies ‘Rahu’ and ‘Shani’ doshas. Kala Bhairava is said to be the Guru of Shani.

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Kala Bhairava is known to destroy fear and protect devotees from greed, lust and anger, allowing devotees to seek God within themselves. He is also believed offer protection from enemies and to pilgrims and travellers. It is also believed that worshipping Kala Bhairava nullifies ‘Rahu’ and ‘Shani’ doshas. Kala Bhairava is said to be the Guru of Shani.

Birth of Kala Bhairava
According to the Shiva Mahapuranam, Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva once have a discussion during which Vishnu asks Brahma who the supreme creator of the universe is. Brahma answers that it is himself, and that he, Brahma should be worshipped. He takes pride in his five heads and begins to interfere in Shiva’s work, infuriating the latter.
Kala Bhairava emerges from Shiva’s forehead and cuts off one of Brahma’s heads, leaving him with just four heads. The head remains stuck to Kala Bhairava’s left palm since he had committed the sin of killing Brahma. To make reparations for the sin, Kala Bhairava wanders the world without clothes, seeking alms with the skull as his begging bowl. Finally, his sin is expiated in Varanasi. Kala Bhairava Mandir in Varanasi is the most famous of Bhairava temples.
According to another story, Kala Bhairava is Virabhadra who cut Daksha Prajapati’s head when the latter insulted Lord Shiva. Daksha was the father of Sati Devi who was Lord Shiva’s wife. Unable to bear the insult to Shiva, Sati leaves her mortal body. When grief-filled Shiva carries her body and does the tandav, his dance of destruction, Vishnu cuts her body into 52 parts. The places on earth where these parts fell are the Shakti Peethas. A Kala Bhairava temple or idol exists at each Shakti Peetha.
It is believed that Kala Bhairava is Lord Shiva’s form that controls time. Kala Bhairava is also considered the guardian of Lord Shiva’s temples. In this role, he is known as Kshetra Palaka. Once the temple priest locks the doors of Lord Shiva’s temple, he ceremonially places the keys at Kala Bhairava’s feet and in the morning, receives the keys from him.

The Ritual
On the day of Kalabhairav Jayanti, devotees worship Kala Bhairava, Lord Shiva and Parvati with flowers, fruits and sweets.

Ceremonies in Temples

In temples, Shodashopachar Pujas are performed. In temples of Lord Shiva, puja begins with worshipping Surya and ends with the worship of Bhairava. Bhairava’s worship includes bathing the idol with ghee, lighting a lamp in ghee, and offering red flowers, coconut, honey and boiled food.
At the Bhairav Prasad temple in Vaishno Devi, an image of Kala Bhairava made of gold or silver is immersed in water in a brass pot. The image is worshipped with prayers. Devotees offer gifts to the priest who conducts the puja.
There are eight temples in Varanasi, each dedicated to one aspect of Kala Bhairava. For eight days, each Bhairava is visited which ends with Bhairava Ashtami. On the eighth day, Kala Bhairava is worshipped in his temple. Kala Bhairava is considered Varanasi’s guardian deity. The cloth that covers Kala Bhairava throughout the year, leaving only his face open, is removed on this day and devotees can catch a glimpse of his entire image. A garland of silver skulls adorns the image on the day.

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Mantras for Kala Bhairava
”Hrim vatukaya apadudharanaya kuru kuru batukaya hrim.”
“Om hreem vam vatukaaya Aapaduddharanaya vatukaaya hreem”
“Om Hraam Hreem Hroom Hrime Hroum Ksham Kshetrapaalaaya Kaala Bhairavaaya Namaha”

After the puja, they recite the Kala Bhairav Katha. They also perform pujas for their dead ancestors.
Devotees stay up the whole night, narrating stories of Kala Bhairava, Lord Shiva and Parvati.

They chant mantras specific to Kala Bhairava and perform a midnight aarti with drums, bells and conches. Since Kala Bhairava rides on a dog, some feed milk and sweets to dogs.
It is believed that those who undertake a fast on the day will get rid of obstacles in life and gain health and success. Devotees seek forgiveness for their sins. It is believed that one loses the fear of death by worshipping Kala Bhairava on this day. It is also believed that problems within families and with enemies are resolved.

Significance of Kala Bhairava
Signifying the march of time, Kala Bhairava is seen as the destroyer of time. Worshipping Kala Bhairava helps one understand the transitory nature of existence. He is said to be the deity who helps one understand the highest truth of life and how one relates to time.
Kala Bhairava Ashtakam composed by Adi Shankaracharya describes him as the source of knowledge and liberation. He is the deity who destroys greed, attachment, depression, anger and enables one to move towards the lord’s feet.