Lord Kalabhairava is a fierce form of Lord Shiva. He is the God of Time and Death. Kala means ‘time’, and Bhairava means ‘fearsome’. Bhairava is an extremely fierce form.
Lord Shiva took this form to rid Lord Brahma of his ego and arrogance. It is said that he created Kalabhairava from his nail. As Kalabhairava, he chopped off Brahma’s 5th head. But the ‘Kapala’ or skull became stuck to his hand, reminding him of his sin of Brahmahatya (killing a Brahmin). It is this image of Kalabhairava that we see in temples. Finally, it was in Kashi that the skull fell down, and he was redeemed from his sin. He stayed back in Kashi and became the guardian deity of the city. He represents the Agya Chakra, found between the eyebrows, in Tantra. He is depicted with snakes coiled all over his body, wearing a tiger skin, and a girdle of human bones around his waist. In his four hands are a drum, noose, trident, and skull. He is always accompanied by his mount, a dog.
Kala Bhairava’s birthday is celebrated as Kala Bhairava Jayanthi or Kala Bhairava Ashtami.
Kalabhairava Ashtakam is a Stotram that praises Kalabhairava, and it was composed by Adi Shankara.
Kalabhairava Ashtakam Meaning
Vyaal- a-Yajnya-Suutram-Indu-Shekhara- m Krpaakaram
Naarada-[A]adi-Yogi– Vrnda-Vanditam Digambaram
Kaashikaa-Pura-Adhin- aatha-Kaalabhairavam Bhaje
I sing the praise of Kalabhairava, who is the king of Gods and served by Indra. He is very compassionate and wears a sacred thread made using a snake. He has a moon on his forehead. He has been praised by Narad and other yogis. He is the supreme Lord of the city of Kashi, and his clothes are the directions.
Bhaanu-Kotti-Bhaasvara- m Bhavaabdhi-Taarakam Param
Niila-Kannttham-Iipsita-A- rtha-Daayakam Trilocanam
K- aashikaa-Pura-Adhinaatha-Kaala- bhairavam Bhaje
I salute Kalabhairava, who is resplendent like a million suns and who can redeem us from this cycle of rebirth. He has three eyes and a blue neck and bestows prosperity upon all. He is imperishable, and his trident supports the three worlds. Bhairava has lotus-like eyes, and he is the death of death. He is the supreme Lord of the city of Kashi.
Shyaama-Kaayam-Aadi-Devam-Akss- aram Nir-Aamayam
Bhiimavikramam Prabhum Vicitra-Taannddava-Priyam
Kaash- ikaa-Pura-Adhinaatha-Kaalabhai- ravam Bhaje
I salute Kalabhairava, who is the ruler of the city of Kashi. He carries a trident, noose, club, and hatchet. He is the source of the universe. He has a dark body. He is free from diseases and illness. He loves ecstatic dance and has supreme powers.
Bhakta- -Vatsalam Sthitam Samasta-Loka-Vigraham
Vi-Nikvan- nan-Manojnya-Hema-Kingkinnii-L- asat-Kattim
Kaashikaa-Pura-Adhi- naatha-Kaalabhairavam Bhaje
Salutations to Kalabhairava, who is the king of the city of Kashi. He is the giver of worldly desires and liberation. He has a pleasant appearance. He is benevolent to his devotees. He takes different forms and creates the world. Bhairava has a bell on his golden waist thread, and it makes a melodious sound.
Karm- a-Paasha-Mocakam Su-Sharma-Daayakam Vibhum
K- aashikaa-Pura-Adhinaatha-Kaala- bhairavam Bhaje
I salute Kalabhairava, who is the guardian of righteousness and the destroyer of unrighteous paths. He frees us from the ties of deeds and liberates our soul. He is adorned with the beautiful golden-colored serpent as his ornament. He is the supreme king of the city of Kashi.
Nityam- -Advitiiyam-Isstta-Daivatam Niramjanam
Mrtyu-Darpa-Naashana- m Karaala-Damssttra-Mokssannam
Ka- ashikaa-Pura-Adhinaatha-Kaalab- hairavam Bhaje
I sing the praise of Kalabhairava, whose feet are adorned by sandals studded with gold. He is eternal and induplicable. He destroys the pride of death and liberates us from the fear of death. He is the supreme Lord of the city of Kashi.
Drs- stti-Paata-Nasstta-Paapa-Jaala- m-Ugra-Shaasanam
Asstta-Siddhi– Daayakam Kapaala-Maalikaa-Dharam
Kaashik- aa-Pura-Adhinaatha-Kaalabhaira- vam Bhaje
I salute Kalabhairava, who is the king of the city of Kashi. His laughter dispels the delusion of the mind. His glance destroys sins. Bhairava wears a garland made up of skulls and gives eight types of powers. He is a powerful ruler.
Kaashi- -Vaasa-Loka-Punnya-Paapa-Shodh- akam Vibhum
Niiti-Maarga-Kovidam Puraatanam Jagatpatim
Kaashikaapuraadhinaa- thakaalabhairavam Bhaje
Salutations to Kalabhairava, the ruler of the city of Kashi, the leader of ghosts and spirits. He showers immense glory and dispels the effects of our sins, exposing us to our true self. He is the supreme Lord of the world and is eternal. He shows us the righteous path.
Kaalabhairavaassttakam- Patthamti Ye Manoharam
Jnyaana-Mukti-Saadhan- am Vicitra-Punnya-Vardhanam
Shoka– Moha-Dainya-Lobha-Kopa-Taapa-N- aashanam
Prayaanti Kaalabhairava-Amghri-Sannidhim- Naraa Dhruvam
Those who read these eight verses about Kalabhairava would get the highest knowledge and liberation. It increases the righteousness of the chanter and destroys sorrows, troubles, anger, and depression, and cures all diseases. The one who reads this Ashtakam would attain the lotus feet of Kalabhairava after death.
Kalabhairava Ashtakam Benefits
Every stanza of this Ashtakam describes Kalabhairava and his glory and offers salutations. Those who recite it regularly can overcome all dangers and problems in life.
Worshipping Kalabhairava and reciting Kala Bhairava Mantra on his Jayanthi or Ashtami can bring great benefits. The benefits of reciting or listening to the Kalabhairava Ashtakam are as follows:
- Divine guidance to lead a righteous life
- Freedom from sins and bad karma
- Protection from the malefic effects of Rahu, Ketu, and Shani doshas
- Protection from black magic
- Solutions to troubling problems
- Peace, prosperity, and salvation
- Protection from dangers and enemies
- Relief from diseases
- Eliminates anger, lust, greed, and ego