Bhairava is a fierce form of Lord Shiva, the supreme God of destruction. He has the power to wipe out evil, clear negative energies and spread auspicious vibrations all around. There are said to be 64 Bhairavas and they are regarded as the guardians of the cardinal points and the directions. Kala Bhairava is considered the head of the Bhairavas and is also regarded as the supreme ruler of universal time. Bhairava’s vehicle is the dog.
Of the many Bhairavas, 8 are of special significance and are regarded as very important manifestations of Shiva. These notable forms are together known as Ashta Bhairavas, the eight-Bhairava aspects. They are said to be the rulers of the 8 directions. Beeshana Bhairava is considered the seventh Ashta Bhairava aspect.
Legend of Bhairava
There are interesting legends surrounding the Bhairavas and one of them is given by the Shiva Purana.
The Gods Brahma and Vishnu got into an argument once, as to who was stronger of the two. The matter went to Lord Shiva for mediation, who however seemed to have had other ideas. He simply transformed himself into a huge pillar of light that stretched beyond the entire universe and stood there, towering between them. He then proclaimed that whoever finds its ends, will be held as the mightier one. Vishnu took the form of a wild boar and went digging down, searching for the bottom end, but that remained beyond his reach. Brahma, meanwhile, became a swan and started flying upwards with a view of finding the upper end. But he too could not reach anywhere near it. However, while Vishnu accepted his inability, Brahma started claiming that he did indeed reach the top of the amazing column of light. In order to support his claim, he also showed the Ketaki flower as a proof of having gone to the top and picked that up from there. But that was not the reality, as the flower was only falling down from the top when Brahma was moving upwards. Shiva then decided to expose Brahma, revealed himself from the infinite light, declared that Brahma’s was only a false assertion and pulled up the creator for his dishonest claim. It was then that the ferocious Bhairava appeared from the fire of the Lord’s third eye and he simply plucked out Brahma’s fifth head, which actually uttered the falsehood. Thus well chastised, Brahma repented for his mistake and bowed to Shiva in remorse for his illusion and wrongdoing.
Thus, the advent of Bhairava itself happened only for clearing falsehood and upholding truth.
It is also said that the separated skull of Brahma however, got stuck firmly to Bhairava’s hands and that he had to go from place to place, trying to get rid of the unwanted load. As he went around seeking alms in the severed skull, so that it could become full and fall off his hands on its own, the Bhairava Shiva came to be known as Bhikshadana, the mendicant. It was Lord Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi who gave him food in the end, which could fill the skull and detach it from his hands, at last. Bhairava was thus relieved finally of his affliction. It is for this reason that this Lord is also regarded as a wandering form of Shiva.
Ashta Bhairava – The Features
Ashta Bhairava, the 8 famous forms of Bhiarava remain as the widely worshipped Bhairava aspects of Lord Shiva. Though they are normally taken together for worships and rituals, they actually remain as individual divinities with distinct characteristics of their own. They are said to represent the 5 fundamental elements of air, water. fire, earth and space, and also the Sun, Moon and atma, the soul. These 8 Gods are known in the names- Asitanga Bhairava, Ruru Bhairava, Chanda Bhairava, Krotha Bhairava, Unmatha Bhairava, Kapala Bhairava, Bheeshana Bhairava and Samhara Bhairava.
Beeshana Bhairava is the seventh among the Ashta Bhairavas. He is depicted as red in complexion and carrying in his four hands, items like the shield, spear, club and a water vessel. He is also seen elsewhere, holding a trident, twisted dagger and a flower. While the lion remains as his mount, it is also stated that he is riding a corpse. His consort is Goddess Chamundi and the direction he is facing is north.
Beeshana Bhairava is believed to wield total control over all negativities. His worship and blessings can hence drive away evil spirits, destroy all negative energies and provide one with positive vibrations.
People can offer special worship to Beeshana Bhairava in the famous Ramanathaswamy temple at Rameswaram and also in the Kodunkundranathar temple at Piranmalai, in the Sivagangai district of Tamilnadu and seek his divine blessings.