Bhairava is a very aggressive form of Lord Shiva, the supreme God of destruction. He has the power to eradicate evil, annihilate adverse energies and spread positive vibrations around. There are as many as 64 Bhairavas, who are said to be guarding the cardinal points and controlling the different directions. Kala Bhairava is the chief of the Bhairavas and he is regarded as the supreme ruler of universal time. The dog is Bhairava’s companion and vehicle.
Of the 64 Bhairavas, 8 are of special significance and are considered as very important manifestations of Shiva. These prominent forms are together known as Ashta Bhairavas, the eight-Bhairava aspects. They are said to be the lords of the 8 directions. Chanda Bhairava is regarded the third among the Ashta Bhairavas.
Legend of Bhairava
There are interesting legends about the origin of Bhairava. One of them is narrated by the Shiva Purana.
Once, Lords Brahma and Vishnu got into an argument, as to who was the mightier of the two. The matter was referred to Shiva and he simply stood there between them as a massive pillar of light that stretched beyond the universe. He then declared that whoever finds the ends of that unending brightness will be considered stronger. Vishnu took the form of a wild boar and went down searching, for locating the bottom end, but he could not. Brahma, on the other hand, went up in the form of a swan to find the upper end and he too could not go anywhere near the top. However, while Vishnu conceded his failure and returned, Brahma started boasting that he did indeed find the top of the column of light. In order to buttress his claim, he also produced the Ketaki flower as a proof of having reached the top. The flower was however only falling down from the top when Brahma was flying upwards. Shiva then decided to call Brahma’s bluff, emerged out of the infinite light, declared that the claim was not true at all and pulled up the creator for the falsehood. He also created Bhairava from the fire of his third eye, and this ferocious Lord plucked out Brahma’s fifth head, which actually made the empty claim. Thus chastised, Brahma repented for his mistake and bowed to Shiva as atonement for his illusion and wrongdoing.
Thus, the advent of Bhairava itself happened to challenge and destroy falsehood and uphold truth.
It is also said that the separated skull of Brahma got stuck to Bhairava’s hands inextricably and he had to move around from place to place, trying to get rid of the severed head from his hand. As he went about seeking alms in the skull stuck to his hand, 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 at last, which could fill the skull, and immediately, it fell off his hands, relieving Bhairava of the affliction. It is for this reason that Bhairava is also regarded as a wandering form of Shiva.
Ashta Bhairava – The Features
Ashta Bhairava, the 8 famous forms of Bhairava remain as the widely worshipped Bhairava aspects of Lord Shiva. Though they are normally taken together for rituals and worships, they are unique Godly beings 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, the Moon and Atma, the soul. These 8 Gods are known in the names — Asitanga Bhairava, Ruru Bhairava, Chanda Bhairava, Krotha Bhairava, Unmatha Bhairava, Kapaala Bhairava, Bheeshana Bhairava and Samhara Bhairava.
Chanda Bhairava is the third among the Ashta Bhairavas. He is depicted as blue in complexion and pleasant in appearance. He has 4 hands and holds in them things like a flame of fire, a spear, a mace and a bow and arrow. Coral is said to be the precious stone meant for him, which he is often adorned with. Just as Subramanya or Muruga, Chanda Bhairava too has peacock as his vehicle. Mata Kaumari is the Goddess of this south-facing Lord.
There is a firm belief that Chanda Bhairava worship can provide devotees with a variety of benefits. It can fill people with immense energy and enthusiasm, and bestow them with great confidence that they will be able to beat back competition, win over enemies and succeed in endeavors.
The famous temple of Vaitheeswaran Koil in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu is dedicated to Chanda Bhairava, where people can worship the Lord and earn his blessings.