Bhairava is an aggressive form of Lord Shiva, the supreme God of destruction. He has the power to wipe out evil, destroy negative energies and spread positive vibrationsall 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 hailed as the chief of the Bhairavas and is regarded as the supreme ruler of universal time. Bhairava’smount is the dog.
Of the Bhairava aspects, 8 are of special significance and are considered as very important manifestations of Shiva. These prominent forms are together known as AshtaBhairavas, the eight-Bhairava aspects. They are said to be the ruling deities of the 8 directions. KrothaBhairava is considered the fourth of theseAshtaBhairava forms.
Legend of Bhairava
There are interesting legends about the origin of Bhairava. The Shiva Purananarrates one of them, as under.
Once Lords Brahma and Vishnu got into an argument, as to who wasthe mightier of the two. The matter was referred to Lord Shiva. The Lord chose not to answer but instead to demonstrate, andthere he simply stood between them as a massive pillar of light that extended beyond all frontiers. He then declared that whoever is able to find the ends of that unending brightness, will be regardedstronger. Vishnu took the form of a wild boar and went down searching, so as to locate the bottom end, but his attempt proved futile. Brahma, on the other hand, went up as a swan for finding the upper end and he too could go nowhere near the top. However, while Vishnuwas honest in conceding his failure, Brahma began making tall claims that he did indeed reachthe top of the column of light. In order to buttress his claim, he also produced the Ketaki flower, which he said he took from the top. The truth was however otherwise as the flower was 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 his falsehood. Hethen created Bhairava from his third eye, and this ferocious Lord plucked out Brahma’s fifth head, which actually uttered this untruth. Thus chastised, Brahma repented for his mistake and bowed to Shiva as an atonement for his illusion and wrongdoing.
Thus, the advent of Bhairava itself happened to destroy falsehood and to establish truth.
It is also said that the separated skull of Brahma got stuck inBhairava’s hands inextricably and that he had to go from place to place, trying to get rid of it 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 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 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, Kapaala Bhairava, Bheeshana Bhairava and Samhara Bhairava.
Krotha Bhairava is the fourth among the Ashta Bhairavas. He is seen as grey-colored and carrying weapons like the sword, axe and the shield. However, this aspect of Shiva is unique as he is also depicted as having quite a few distinct features of Lord Vishnu in him. There are images of him with Shankha, Chakra and Gadha, the well-known weapons conch, discus and mace of the God of protection. While the giant eagle Garuda, the mighty vehicle of Vishnu is Krotha Bhairava’s mount too, Goddess Vaishnavi remains as his consort, thus completing his ‘Vishnu-connection’. Krotha Bhairava, thus, looks to be a rare Shankara-Narayana combination. He is a south-west facing deity.
It is believed that Krotha Bhairava’s blessings can provide people with good clarity of thought so that they can operate with optimum potential and take right decisions at right times in life. These can also bestow them with the strength to take strong actions.
People can offer prayers to Krotha Bhairava at the Thiruvisanallur Sivayoginathar temple and seek his blessings for their welfare.