Kalashtami, Kala Bhairava Ashtami, or Mahakaal Bhairav Ashtami, is the most auspicious day dedicated to Lord Kaala Bhairava – an avatar of Lord Shiva. Kal means ‘time,’ and ‘Bhairava,’ the manifestation of Shiva.
Bhairava originates from the word bhīru, which means “fearful.” Bhairava means “terribly fearful form.” It is also known as one who destroys fear or one who is beyond fear. The right interpretation is that He protects His devotees from dreadful enemies, greed, lust and anger. Yet, there is another interpretation: Bha means creation, ra means sustenance and va means destruction. Therefore, Bhairava is the one who creates, sustains and dissolves the three stages of life. Therefore, He becomes the ultimate or the supreme.
Observed every Hindu lunar month on the ‘Krishna Paksha Ashtami Tithi,’ (8th day during the waning phase of moon), there are a total of 12 Kalashtami observances in a year. The first one for the year starts tomorrow, 17th January 2020 and the rest of the dates for the year are as below:
February 15, 2020, Saturday
March 16, 2020, Monday
April 14, 2020, Tuesday
May 14, 2020, Thursday
June 13, 2020, Saturday
July 12, 2020, Sunday
August 11, 2020, Tuesday
September 10, 2020, Thursday
October 9, 2020, Friday
November 8, 2020, Sunday
December 7, 2020, Monday
According to the Puranas, Kala Bhairava is delineated as the “Lord of Time.” He is well-known as Kshetrapalaka, the protector of the Universe. Normally in Shiva temples, idols of Bhairava are situated in the north, facing southern direction. He appears in a standing position with four hands. His weapons are drum, pāśa (noose), trident and skull. In some forms of Bhairava, there are more than four hands. He appears naked and with a dog. His weapons, the dog, protruding teeth, terrifying looks, and a garland with red flowers all give him a frightening appearance. In all Shiva temples, regular puja (reverence) rituals begin with Surya and ends with Bhairava.
This form of Shiva is believed to punish sinners and He carries a ‘Danda,’ – hence why, He is also known as Dandapani for He uses a rod to punish sinners, with a black dog as His vehicle.
In Vajrayana Buddhism, He is considered a fierce emanation of boddhisatva Mañjuśrī and also called Heruka, Vajrabhairava and Yamantaka.
There are 64 Bhairavas which are grouped under eight categories and each category is headed by one major Bhairava. The major eight Bhairavas are called Aṣṭāṅga Bhairavas. The Ashta Bhairavas control the eight directions of this universe. Each Bhairava has seven sub Bhairavas under Him, totaling 64 Bhairavas. All of the Bhairavas are ruled and controlled by Maha Swarna Kala Bhairava otherwise known as Kala Bhairava, who is the supreme ruler of time of this universe as per some Śaiva tantric scriptures (or the āgamas).
Observe a fast before you begin your prayers to Kala Bhairav and surrender to Him – He will know what you need. From removal of hurdles and obstacles to protecting your family and home, He is the man for the job. Perform 108 japa in His name and immerse in the Universal power of the time and the timeless…
Wishing You success in Kala Bhairava Ashtami tomorrow (18th January 2020).
SUJATA NANDY WORLD GURUKUL