Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Kaalabhairava --Siva the Custodian of Times 
(Compilation for a discourse by N.R. Srinivasan, Nashville, TN. USA< December 2015)
The concept of eternal and cyclical nature of Time (Kala) remains in the heart of a spiritual Hindu and is closely related to the Concept of Brahman or Atman. Hindus consider Self within us to be eternal, ever-existing not only in the future but also coming from the past. This notion of the two-way eternity is not confined to Brahman alone but extends to this temporal World. In Hindu Concept there is no  “year-period” nor a one-time final cataclysm. The closing door of one Kalpa implies the opening of another. Destruction of the cosmos only portends its re-creation. The material world is the subject to everlasting cycles of creation, sustenance and destruction.
Bhagavad Gita has the following to say about Time:
Sahasrayuga paryantam ahar yad brahmano Viduh |
raatrim yugasahasraantaam Tae ahoratravidoe janaah || 8-17 ||
Those who know that the day of the Creator Brahma lasts one thousand Yugas (4.32 billion years) and that his night also lasts one thousand Yuga, they are the knowers of Day and night .
Brahma lives 100 Brahma Years or 311 trillion and 40 billion earth years .
[The duration of one day of Brahma is called Kalpa and the night is called the Pralaya. Thirty rounds of such days and nights is called one month of Brahma; and none hundred such years constitute the span of Brahma’s life. The word “Yuga” in the verse stands for the four Yugas described in ancient cosmology. Please visit my discourse on the subject for full calculation].
Kaalosmi lokakshayakritpravriddhoe lokaan samaahartum iha pravrittah m|
Rrite api tvaam na bhavishyanti sarve ye avasthitaah pratyaneekeshu Yodhaah  || 11-32 ||
 I am the Time, the mighty world destroyer; here engaged in the extermination of the worlds. Even without you participation in the war, all the warriors standing arrayed in the opposing armies shall cease to exit.
The Time as Kaala has been described in our scriptures.  Mahaakaala is one of the names of the Lord Siva. Earlier Bhagawan had declared The Time to be his magnificence. Time is the majesty of the Divine, the Power that works invisibly behind everything, it modifies, transforms, deteriorates and slowly brings to the final destruction.
Following Mantra from Mahanarayana Upanishad also speaks about a landmark of Time, Samvatsara  as Kaala  and the  Sun  as  emanation (Vyaahriti) of Brahman :
“Samvatsaro asaavaadityo ya esha aaditye purushah sa parameshthee brahmaatma”—The year is the yonder Sun. That person who is in the Sun is Hiranyagarbha; He is the protector of this Universe and Brahmaatman—Supreme Reality that is the inner-most Self of all creatures.
The word Samvatsara stands for duration of time which determines the origin, continuation and disappearance of time which determines the origin, sustenance and disappearance of objects of the Universe. Time is measures by diurnal movement of the Sun and the seasons which make the human year. Time is identified with the sun because we become cognizant of time by the cyclic change brought about in Nature through the influence of the Sun and by the demarcation made by his rising and setting and Change of direction. The sun again is not merely the visible orb in the sky, but the Divine Being contemplated there who is the same as the Supreme in its transcendent and immanent aspects. You may recall here how Rama in his Avatar as Vishnu meditated upon Aditya (Supreme Being) before starting the war pleading for its success. It is no wonder we all pray to Sun as the Supreme Spirit itself which is the Eternal Light which is responsible for that visible orb in the sky! MNU therefore prescribes the following mantra for meditation:
‘Kaalaaya Namah; kalavikaranaaya namah”—Salutations to Time (Kala); Obeisance to one who is the cause of causing the divisions of moment, Muhurta etc. of Time; He who is the   Power of Time responsible for the evolution of cyclic Nature.
This is from the Panchabrhma mantra also called Panchaanana Mantra related to God Rudra. The names Sadyojata, Vaamadeva, Aghora, Ghora-aghora and Tatpurusha signify the five faces of God Siva of five heads.  Aghora (terrible or horrible) here refers to the most fearful form of Rudra as Kaalabhairava. They are equally applicable to Narasimha who appeared as Kaalapurusha (defined by time born on Twilight period of the day) in the most fearful form to kill the formidable demon Hiranyakasipu.
In another Mantra MNU says: “Samavatsara is verily Aditya. This being is the overlord of all beings. One who meditate upon Aditya thus, attains equality with Brahman and attains His very world”
We have seen above how   Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita Praise Brahman as Kaalapurusha or Kaala, that is Time.  Puranas in turn  have  come out with their projection of Siva as Kaalapurusha and Puranic stories  as  Kalabhairava in which form he is popularly worshiped  all over India. They also projected a fearful form of Durga or Parvati as Kaali, the Goddess of Time that destroys everything.  The word   Kaali also comes from the well-known word Kaala, Time. She is the Power of Time and Brahman as defined earlier in the feminine aspect, as Brahman represents all genders and also addressed as  Paraasakti, who is all destroying and all devouring.  That is why Lord says in Gitaa that “He is the Time which has grown to infinite proportions and is destroying the worlds”. A power that destroys has got to be depicted in terms of awe-inspiring horror and stories as we find in Puranas.
The term Ghora addressed to Rudra in the Panchabrahma mantras of Upanishads inspired Puranas to come with the Kalabhairava   with varied stories as to this dreadful form of Siva. One story identifies Kalabhairava with Veerabhadra. Essentially Veerabhadra is the personification of Siva’s anger manifested during Daksha’s Yajna (sacrifice) to which Siva was not invited. Siva became furious because of the contemptuous treatment   meted out to him. Siva in his anger plucked out a hair from his head and created horrid looking Veerabhadra.   Veerabhadra successfully destroyed Daksha’s Yajna and humiliated all the Gods who had assembled there.  He cut off the head of Daksha the father of Sati Devi, when he insulted Lord Siva. Sati’s body was also cut into pieces and strewn all over   the Holy Land (India) giving rise to Sakti Peethas. Outside every Sakti Peetha there is a temple for Bhairava.
He is usually shown with three eyes and four arms holding bow, arrow, sword and mace, wearing a garland of skulls. His face is terrible looking.  He is therefore often considered as an emanation of Lord Siva like Narasimha, instant born though some think He is an Avatar of Lord Siva which concept is strange to Saivism.  Puranas also mention of  Bhadrakaali, his counterpart created by Parvati who is sometimes shown by his side in temple worship. Usually Siva temples have a small shrine dedicated to him, located usually in the South-East.  As custodian of Time, He is popularly worshiped as Kaalbhairava in exclusive temples built for Him.
Yet another Sthala Purana (local Story) describes the origin of Kalabhairava as follows: Kalabhairava is the God who is the protector of Varanasi.    Once Brahma insulted Lord Shiva and his fifth head teasingly laughed at Lord Shiva.  From Lord Siva,  came out   Kaalabhairava (Black Bhairava), who cut off the fifth head of Lord Brahma. On the entreaties of Lord Vishnu, Siva pardoned Lord Brahma. But the sin (in the form of a lady) of beheading Lord Brahma followed Kaalabhairava everywhere. Also the head of Brahma stuck to him. To keep away the sin and punishment which were chasing him, Kaalabhairava entered the city of Varanasi. The sin could not enter the city.  Kaalabhairava was made as the Kotwal (Inspector general) of the city of Benares.  Kalabhairava rides on a dog. A pilgrimage to Kasi (Benares) is not supposed to be complete without visiting the temple of Kaalabhairava.
Kaala Bhairava is considered as   an incarnation of Lord Siva and the Devata of the Lord Rahu (Navagraha, astral deity or Graha) by many Hindus. In Saivite legends and puranas Lord Kaalabhairava is considered as the Kshetrapaalaka or guardian of temple of Lord Siva.   In honor of this, all Siva temple managements will ceremonially submit the temple keys to Lord Bhairava at the locking time   of  the   temple complex at temple closing time and also  receive  from Him  keys at  the opening time. The Lord safeguards the entire temple complex.  Kaala Bhairava is the Rudra Avatar of Siva who is the omnipresent Time or Kaala.  Kaala or Time is the fearsome face of Siva as time stops for none. Time and Tide waits for no man goes the proverb.
Traditionally Kaala Bhairav is the village deity in the rural villages of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and   Andhra Pradesh, where he is referred to as "Bhairava/Annadhani" Vairavar. In Karnataka, Lord Bhairava is the Supreme God for the community commonly referred as "Gowdas", especially for the Gangadikara Gowda caste he is considered as the care taker and punisher.
There is also a symbolic thinking as to his worship.    Kaala means time.  Lord Kaalabhairava is the form of Siva who is made responsible for control of Time i.e., the growth and management of Time. (Kaala means time). Whoever wants to spend, manage or ration their time in a proper manner should pray to him. Lord Siva has manifested Himself as Adi Moola Kaala Bhairava  (Fundamental cause of Time) with many  Bhairava avatars.  From Adi Moola Kaala Bhairava, Ashta (eight) Bhairavas manifested. Lord Kala Bhairava exists in 64 forms which are grouped into 8 categories each:
1 – Asidanga Bhairava: Gives Creative Ability
2 – Guru Bhairava: Divine Educator
3 – Chanda Bhairava: Gives incredible energy, cuts competition and rivals
4 – Krodha Bhairava: Gives You the Power to Take Massive Action
5 – Unmatta Bhairava: Controls Negative Ego and Harmful Self Talk
6 – Kapaala Bhairava: Ends All Unrewarding Work and Action
7 – Bhishana Bhairava: Obliterates Evil Spirits and Negativity
8 – Samhaara Bhairava: Complete Dissolution of Old Negative Karmas
The Lord Kaalabairava wears the tiger skin and human bones and also wears the twisted serpents as his ornaments i.e., earrings, bracelets, anklets, and sacred thread. The celestial vehicle of Lord Bhairava is the dog. The number 13 is auspicious for the Lord. The Ashtami (eighth lunar day) tithi of each paksham (moon / lunar phase fortnight), particularly in the waning phase (that is, Krishna Paksha Ashtami), is important for Kaalabairava worship. Kaala Bhairava Ashtami, which occurs in December/January is an important day for worshipping the Lord. The Siddhas believe Gulika Kaalam auspicious time of each day is ideal for worshiping Kaala Bhairava.
The worship of Kaala Bhairava is very important for those living in foreign countries. There’s nothing more precious than time. Those who are desirous to spend, manage or ration their time in a proper manner should pray the Lord Kalabhairava.  Hindu Americans always run against time who are hard pressed for time in their lives.
Lord Kaalabhairava is often presented as a folk deity or Grama Devata who safeguards the devotee on all eight directions (ettu dikku) and he is also considered as the guardian of travelers. Those who venture travel especially during night time should pray for the blessings of the Lord and seek his protection during travel. The Tamil Siddhas used to instruct the travelers to offer the garland of cashew nuts and light ghee lamp before commencing the travel. Lord Bhairava is also known as Vairavar in Tamil.
 Important Kaala Bhairava Temples in India
1. Batuk Bhairon – Old Fort (Purana Kila) Temple – Delhi
2. Ashta bhairon – Sri Kamanada Eswar Temple – Aragalur, Tamilnadu
3. Bhairavar – Vairavan Patti Temple – Karaikudi, Tamilnadu
4. Bhairaveswarar  – Chozhapuram Temple – Kumbhakonam, Tamilnadu
5. Kaal Bhairav – Kaal Bhairav Temple – Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
6. Kaal Bhairav – Kaalabhairaveshvara Temple – Adichunchanagiri, Karnataka
7. Kaal Bhairav – Kaal Bhairav Temple – Adhiyaman Kottai, Dharmpuri District, TN
8. Bhairav – Kaal Bhairav Temple – Kasi (Varanasi)
Here is the essence of prayer offered to Lord Kaalabhairava:
I salute Lord Kaala Bhairava;
Whose lotus feet is being served by Devendra;
Who wears the different directions as his cloth of life;
Who is black in color and the primeval cause;
Who is deathless and the first God;
Who is a form of Shiva, who loves his devotees:
Who saves us from the ties of Karma;
Who is eternal and does not have any one second to him;
Who takes away the fear of death from humans;
Whose sight is sufficient to destroy all sins;
Who can grant the eight occult powers;
Who is the chief of the society of Bhootas;
Who is eternally old and Lord of the Universe.

Kaalabhairava Mantra is: Hmmm Hram Kaala Bhairavaaya Namaha…….. (Om    is recited as Hmmm) .
Bhairavi Yatana in Varanasi Cremation grounds is an intense process of obliterating Lifetimes of Karma in a moment. In USA Sadguru Ashram of ISHA Foundation conducts the same for the religious faithful.
 Sri Adi Sankaracharya  has  composed the  famous musical  hymn  given below  which  is recited by the priests of the temple of Kaalabhairava in Varanasi before blessing the devotee with a tap by the cane of Lord Kaalabhairava.  Each and every living being is afraid of time as it spares none. Hence Kala is feared by one and all.    The Kaala Bhairava Ashtakam is recited to make your journey through time or life free from troubles and dangers.

Kala Bhairava Ashtakam in Sanskrit
देवराजसेव्यमानपावनांघ्रिपंकजं व्यालयज्ञसूत्रमिंदुशेखरं कृपाकरम्
नारदादियोगिवृन्दवन्दितं दिगंबर काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥१॥
भानुकोटिभास्वरं भावाब्धितारकं परं नीलकण्ठमीप्सितार्थदायकं त्रिलोचनम्
कालकालमम्बुजाक्षमक्षशूलमक्षरं काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥२॥
शूलटंकपाशदण्डपाणिमादिकारणं श्यामकायमादिदेवमक्षरं निरामयम्
भीमविक्रमं प्रभुं विचित्रतांडवप्रियं काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥३॥
भुक्तिमुक्तिदायकं प्रशस्तलोकविग्रहं भक्तवत्सलं स्थितं समस्तलोकविग्रहं
विनिक्कणन्मनोज्ञहेमकिंकिणीलसत्कटिं काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥४॥
धर्मसेतुपालकं त्वधर्ममार्गनाशकं कर्मपाशमोचकं सुशर्मदायकं विभुं
स्वर्णवर्णशेषपाशशोभितांगमण्डलं काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥५॥
रत्न५पादुकाप्रभाभिरामपादयुग्मकं नित्यमद्वितीयमिष्टदैवतं निरंजनम्
मृत्युदर्पनाशनं करालदंष्ट्रमोक्षणं काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥६॥
अट्टाहासभिन्नपद्मजाण्डकोशसंततिं दृष्टिपातनष्टपापजालमुग्रशासनं
अष्टसिद्धिदायकं कपालमालिकाधरं काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥७॥
भूतसंघनायकं विशालकीर्तिदायकं काशिवासलोकपुण्यपापशोधकं विभुं
नीतिमार्गकोविदं पुरातनं जगत्पतिं काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे॥८॥
कालभैरवाष्टकं पठन्ति ये मनोहरं ज्ञानमुक्तिसाधनं विचित्रपुण्यवर्धनं
शोकमोहदैन्यलोभकोपतापनाशनम् प्रयान्ति कालभैरवांघ्रिसन्निधि नरा ध्रुवम् ॥९॥
Kala Bhairava Ashtakam in English Transliteration
vyaalayaGYasuutramindushekharaM kR^ipaakaram
naaradaadiyogivR^indavanditaM digaMbaraM
kaashikaapuraadhinaathakaalabhairavaM bhaje  ( 1)
bhaanukoTibhaasvaraM bhavaabdhitaarakaM paraM
niilakaNThamiipsitaarthadaayakaM trilochanam.
kaashikaapuraadhinaathakaalabhairavaM bhaje  (2).
shyaamakaayamaadidevamaksharaM niraamayam
bhiimavikramaM prabhuM vichitrataaNDavapriyaM
kaashikaapuraadhinaathakaalabhairavaM bhaje (3)
bhuktimuktidaayakaM prashastachaaruvigrahaM
bhaktavatsalaM sthitaM samastalokavigraham.
kaashikaapuraadhinaathakaalabhairavaM bhaje  (4)
dharmasetupaalakaM tvadharmamaarganaashanaM
karmapaashamochakaM susharmadhaayakaM vibhum
kaashikaapuraadhinaathakaalabhairavaM bhaje  (5).
nityamadvitiiyamishhTadaivataM nira.njanam
mR^ityudarpanaashanaM karaaladaMshhTramokshaNaM
kaashikaapuraadhinaathakaalabhairavaM bhaje  (6)
ashhTasiddhidaayakaM kapaalamaalikaadharaM
kaashikaapuraadhinaathakaalabhairavaM bhaje (7
bhuutasa.nghanaayakaM vishaalakiirtidaayakaM
kaashivaasalokapuNyapaapashodhakaM vibhum
niitimaargakovidaM puraatanaM jagatpatiM
kaashikaapuraadhinaathakaalabhairavaM bhaje  ( 8)
.. phala shruti ..

kaalabhairavaashhTakaM paThaMti ye manoharaM
GYaanamuktisaadhanaM vichitrapuNyavardhanam
prayaanti kaalabhairavaaMghrisannidhiM naraa dhruvam.h (9)
 || iti shriimachha.nkaraachaaryavirachitaM
shrii kaalabhairavaashhTakaM saMpuurNam  ||
Kala Bhairava Ashtakam in English
I sing praise of Kala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kashi, Who is adorned by lotus-feet which is revered and served by Indra (Devaraj), Who has a Yajnopavita-thread made up of snake, Who has the moon on His forehead, Who is the abode of mercy, Who has been sung by Narad and other celestial singers, and Whose clothes are the directions. ||1||
I sing praise of Kala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kasi, Who is resplendent like millions of sun, Who absolves the ocean of cycle of rebirth, Who is supreme, Who has a blue neck, Who bestows us with our desires, Who has three-eyes, Who is the end of Kaal, Who has lotus-like eyes, Who has immortal mono-dent weapon, and Who is immortal. ||2||
I sing praise of Kala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kasi, Who has mono-dent, spade, a cord and punishment in His hands, Who is the cause behind the beginning, Who has a grey (smeared) body, Who is the first Deva, Who is imperishable, Who is free from illness and health, Who is immensely mighty, Who is the Lord, and Who loves the special Tandava dance. ||3||
I sing praise of Kaala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kashi, who is the bestower of desires and salvation, who has an enticing appearance form, Who is endears His devotees, Who is static, Who takes various manifestations and forms the world, and Who has a beautiful golden waist-thread with small melodious bells. ||4||
I sing praise of Kaala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kashi, Who is the maintainer of righteousness, who is the destroyer of unrighteous paths, Who liberates us from the ties of Karma or deeds, Who bestows us with shyness, Who is splendid, and Whose organ-groups are decorated with a beautiful cord of golden color. ||5||
I sing praise of Kaala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kashi, Who has feet adorned by two sandals made of gold which is possessing a resplendent shine, Who is eternal, Who is in-duplicable, Who bestows our desires to us, Who is without desires, Who destroys the pride of death (as in is supreme to death), and Who liberates soul by His teeth. ||6||
I sing praise of Kaala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kasi, Whose loud roar is enough to destroy all the manifestations created by the lotus-born Brahma, Whose (merciful) glance is enough to destroy all the sins, who is the powerful ruler, Who gives the eight-powers¹, and Who wears a garland of skull-caps. ||7||
I sing praise of Kaala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kasi, Who is the leader of the ghosts and spirits, Who showers immense glory, Who absolves people dwelling in Kasi from their sins and righteous deeds, Who is splendor, Who has explained the path of righteousness, Who is eternally old, and Who is the controller of the universe. ||8||
 Those who study these eight verses on Kaala Bhairava — which is enticing, which is a source of knowledge and liberation, which increases righteousness of a person, and which destroys grief, attachment, depression, greed, anger an heat — move towards the proximity of the feet of Shiv (Kaalabhairav), necessarily. ||9||

1.       Swami Vimalananda, Mahanarayana Upanishad, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.
2.      Ananta Rangacharya, Principal Upanishads, Volume 1, Bengalur, India.
3.      Prabha Duneja, The Legacy of Yoga In Bhagawad Geeta, Govindram Harshanand, Delhi, India.
4.      The Heart of Hinduism, Kala-Time, Internet.
5.      The Editor, IndiaDivine.Org Kalabhairavashtakam. Internet
6.      Swami Harshananda, Hindu Gods and Godesses, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.

[This discourse material is a compilation from the reference above    as well as other sources for a prepared lecture for delivering at Vedanta Class of Sri Ganesha Temple which is gratefully acknowledged. I do not claim anything as original though I have included my explanations and comments elaborately suitably editing. Anybody is free to download partly or fully this discourse, modify and redistribute this as well as other  discourses from the blog Hindu Reflections <> for spreading the wisdom of Vedas and scriptures further.  These  lectures are  posted on the blog for the benefit of those who are not able to attend my lectures personally due to personal reasons or due to not living in Nashville or able to go through the various sources as I have done. ]