|Destruction (guard god)|
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Bhairava (Sanskrit, "Terrible, Frightful") sometimes known as Kala Bhairava, is a Hindu deity, a fierce manifestation of Shiva associated with annihilation. He is often depicted with frowning, angry eyes, sharp, tiger's teeth and flaming hair. He is naked except for garlands of skulls and a coiled snake around his neck. In his four hands, he carries a noose, trident, drum, and skull. He is often shown accompanied by a dog. Bhairava originated in Hindu legends and is sacred to Hindus, Buddhists and Jains alike. He is worshiped throughout India and Nepal.
The origin of Bhairava can be traced to a conversation between Brahma and Vishnu which is recounted in the Shiv Mahapuran. In it, Vishnu inquired of Brahma, "Who is the supreme creator of the Universe?" Arrogantly, Brahma told Vishnu to worship him as Supreme Creator. One day, Brahma thought "I have five heads. Shiva also has five heads. I can do everything that Shiva does and therefore I am Shiva." Brahma became a little egotistical as a result of this. Additionally, he began to forge the work of Shiva and also started interfering in what Shiva was supposed to be doing. Consequently, Mahadeva (Shiva) threw a small nail from his finger which assumed the form of Kala Bhairava and casually went to cut off one of Brahma's heads. The skull of Brahma is held in the hands of Kala Bhairava; Brahma Kapala in the hands of Kala Bhairava and Brahma’s ego was destroyed and he became enlightened. From then on, he became useful to himself, to the world and deeply grateful to Shiva. In the form of the Kala Bhairava, Shiva is said to be guarding each of these Shaktipeeths. Each Shaktipeeth temple is accompanied by a temple dedicated to Bhairava.
Temples or shrines to Bhairava are present within or near most Jyotirlinga temples. There are also the sacred twelve shrines dedicated to Shiva which can be found all across India including the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi and the Kal Bhairav temple, Ujjain. The Patal Bhairav and Vikrant Bhairav shrines are located in Ujjain as well.
Kala Bhairava temples can also be found around Shakti Peethas. It is said that Shiva allocated the job of guarding each of the 52 Shakti Peethas to one Bhairava. There are said to be 52 forms of Bhairava, which are considered a manifestation of Shiva himself.
Traditionally, Kal Bhairav is the Grama devata in the rural villages of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, where he is referred to as "Bhaivara/Annadhani" Vairavar. In Karnataka, Lord Bhairava is the supreme God for the community and commonly referred to as "Gowdas." In the Gangadikara Gowda caste especially, he is considered the caretaker and punisher.
Another set of people in Kashmir that have their origin from Gorat, or the minister of Mata Sharika, worship Bhairava during Shivratri 
Bhairava Ashtami commemorating the day Kal Bhairav appeared on earth, is celebrated on Krishna paksha Ashtami of the Margashirsha month of Hindu calendar. It is a day of special prayers and rituals.
Bhairava is depicted as being ornamented with a range of twisted serpents, which serve as earrings, bracelets, anklets, and sacred thread (yajnopavita). He wears a tiger skin and a ritual apron composed of human bones. Bhairava has a dog (Shvan) as his divine vahana (vehicle). Bhairavi is a fierce and terrifying aspect of the Devi who is virtually indistinguishable from Kali, with the exception of her particular identification as the consort of Bhairava.
Bhairava himself has eight manifestations i.e. Ashta Bhairava:
- Asithaanga Bhairava
- Ruru Bhairava
- Chanda Bhairava
- Krodha Bhairava
- Unmattha Bhairava
- Kapaala Bhairava
- Bheeshana Bhairava
- Samhaara Bhairava
Kala Bhairava is conceptualized as the Guru of the planetary deity, Shani (Saturn). Bhairava is known as Bhairavar or Vairavar in Tamil, where he is often presented as a Grama devata or village guardian who safeguards the devotee in eight directions (ettu tikku). Known in Sinhalese as Bahirawa, he is said to protect treasures. Lord Bhairava is the main deity worshipped by the Aghora sect.
Bhairava is an important deity of the Newars. All the traditional settlements of Newars have at least a temple of Bhairava. Most of the temples of Bhairava in Nepal are maintained by Newar priests. There are several Bhairava temples in the Kathmandu valley.
Images of Bhairava
- Apte, p. 727, left column
- For Bhairava form as associated with terror see: Kramrisch, p. 471.
- Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 76.
- "Bhairava: The Wrathful". Retrieved 13 May 2015.
- "Kala Bhairava Ashtakam - Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia". www.hindupedia.com. Retrieved 2016-04-16.
- Sunita Pant Bansal (2008). Hindu Pilgrimage: A Journey Through the Holy Places of Hindus All Over India. Pustak Mahal. ISBN 8122309976.
- Diana L. Eck (1982). Banaras: City of Light. Taylor & Francis. pp. 192–3. ISBN 0710202369.
- Syed Siraj Ul Hassan (1920). The Castes and Tribes of H.E.H. the Nizam's Dominions, Vol. 1. Asian Educational Services. p. 482. ISBN 8120604881.
- "Hindu Bhakti". hindubhakti.blogspot.com. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
- Dr. Bhojraj Dwivedi (2006). Religious Basis Of Hindu Beliefs. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. p. 172. ISBN 8128812394.
- Bhairava statuette in copper from 15th-16th century Nepal, in collection of Smithsonian Institution. Accessed August 11, 2007.
- "Bhairav Temple – Lord Bhairo Baba". shaligramrudraksha.com. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bhairava.|
- Shri Kaal Bhairav Mandir, New Delhi
- Bhairav Worship Chant - Chalisa
- Obtaining a Yidam (Bhairava or Dakini) as a guide and protector (from wisdom-tree.com)
- Shri Bhairavnath Mandir - Kikali