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Bhairava – Understanding the Kal Bhairav form of Hindu God Shiva

Bhairava or Kal Bhairava, is one of the most terrible and angry form of Shiva – an attempt by human mind to give form to the anger of the Supreme Being. The popular legend associated with the Bhairava form of Shiva is that of Him cutting off the fifth head of Brahma. He did this to punish Brahma for his unethical and uncontrolled lust.

Bhairava is often depicted with scowl, angry eyes and flaming hair. He is naked and wears a garland of skulls and a coiled snake about his neck. In his four hands he carries a noose, trident, drum, and skull. A black dog always accompanies Bhairava.

Some Hindu scriptures talks about different manifestations of Bhairava. Such text detail about eight manifestations, which includes Kala (black), Asitanga (with black limbs), Sanhara (destruction), Ruru (hound), Krodha (anger), Kapala (Skull), Rudra (storm) and Unmatta (raging).

Ashtami or eighth day after full moon (Krishna Paksha or waxing phase of moon) is dedicated to Bhairava and is known as Kalashtami.

The most popular Bhairava Ashtami is observed on the eighth day during the waning phase of moon in Margashirsha month (November – December) in traditional Hindi calendar. The day is also known as Kal Bhairav Jayanti.