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Bhairava | bhi" (fear) and "ra" (remover)

“the terror and joy of realizing oneness with the Soul.”

Bhairava Painting
Shiva as Bhairava Painting late 19th century

Credit: Victoria and Albert Museum

Copyright: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Once upon a time, a devoted priest named Raghav lived in the sacred city of Varanasi. Raghav was known throughout the city for his unwavering devotion to Lord Shiva.

Every day, he would perform elaborate rituals and offer prayers at the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple, seeking the blessings of the divine.

Raghav's life was structured around his routines, and he took great care in meticulously adhering to the timings of his prayers and rituals.

His devotion to his daily practices was so strong that he even developed a deep fascination with the concept of time and its role in the universe.

One day, as Raghav was immersed in his prayers, a mysterious figure caught his attention.

A tall, imposing man with ash smeared on his body and a fearsome countenance stood before him. The man's presence exuded a mixture of power and intensity that left Raghav both intrigued and apprehensive.

"Who are you?" Raghav asked, his voice trembling slightly.

"I am Kalabhairava, the form of Lord Shiva who governs time,"

the man replied in a deep and resonant voice.

Raghav's eyes widened in astonishment.

He had heard of Kalabhairava and his role in controlling the growth and management of time, but he had never encountered him in person.

"Why have you come to me?"

Raghav asked, his heart pounding.

"I have come to test your understanding of time,"

Kalabhairava responded.

"Tell me, Raghav, what do you understand about the nature of time?"

Raghav hesitated momentarily, feeling the weight of Kalabhairava's gaze upon him.

Then, he began to speak with humility and sincerity.

He spoke of time as a force that governs the cycles of life and death,

as a measure of change and transformation,

and as a reminder of the impermanence of all things.

Kalabhairava listened intently, nodding occasionally as Raghav shared his insights.

After Raghav finished speaking, Kalabhairava spoke again.

"You have a deep understanding of time, Raghav.

But remember, time is not just an abstract concept—it is a living force that shapes your experiences. It is through time that you learn, grow, and evolve.

And it is through your devotion that you can transcend time's limitations."

With these words, Kalabhairava disappeared, leaving Raghav both awed and enlightened.

From that day on, Raghav's understanding of time deepened further as he continued his practices with a newfound appreciation for the precious moments each day brought.

He understood that time was not merely a concept to be measured,

but a vehicle for spiritual growth and realization.

Raghav's devotion continued to flourish, and he shared his encounter with Kalabhairava with others, inspiring them to reflect on the significance of time in their lives.

And as the years passed, Raghav's name became synonymous with both his unwavering devotion to Lord Shiva and his profound understanding of the divine flow of time.



Fierce and Transformative Nature:

Bhairava is often depicted as a fierce and fearsome form of Lord Shiva, embodying the raw and transformative forces of the universe. This aspect symbolizes the destruction of ignorance, attachments, and obstacles that hinder spiritual growth.

Transcendence of Duality:

Bhairava represents the transcendence of dualities—such as life and death, pleasure and pain, creation and destruction. This transcendence points to the underlying unity that exists beyond apparent opposites.

Time and Space:

Bhairava is associated with the concept of time and the impermanence of all things. As the lord of time, Bhairava reminds us of the constant flow of life and the necessity of embracing change.

Divine Grace and Blessings:

While Bhairava's fierce form may seem intimidating, devotees believe he is also a bestower of blessings and grace. By embracing his fierce energy, seekers can overcome their fears and limitations and attain spiritual liberation.

Tantra and Inner Awakening:

In Tantra, Bhairava is often seen as the divine consort of Bhairavi, the goddess who embodies the feminine creative energy. Together, they represent the union of Shiva and Shakti, symbolizing the integration of masculine and feminine energies within an individual, leading to spiritual awakening.

Exploration of Consciousness:

The Bhairava tradition includes practices that lead to direct experiential insights and expanded consciousness. Techniques described in texts like the Vijñāna-bhairava-tantra guide lead us to explore various states of awareness and transcend ordinary limitations.

Bhairava Temples:

There are temples dedicated to Bhairava across India, and some of them are considered highly sacred. Devotees seek Bhairava's blessings for protection, courage, and spiritual growth.

Mystical Symbolism:

He is often depicted with attributes that symbolize his transcendental nature. These can include a skull cup, a trident, a drum, a noose, a serpent, and a crescent moon.


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