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Ashta Bhairava – Spiritual Importance In Hinduism

Ashta Bhairava is the eight forms of Bhairav Shiva. The Bhairavas are eight in number, similar in form and feature to that of the principal deity. The principal Bhairava is known as Svacchanda. The subordinate Bhairavas are known as Kapalisha, Sikavahana, Krodharaja, Vikarala, Manmatha, Meghanadeshwara, Somaraja and Vidyaraja.

Symbolism Ashta Bhairava 

Kshemaraja, in his commentary of Svacchanda Tantra, indicates that these Bhairavas spiritually represent egoism, intellect and mind, the sense organs with their respective objects, knowledge, inner delight that arises on account of contact with the body and, finally, the dynamic energy itself.

Ashta Bhairava And Eight-Petaled From 

In mandala (the sacred diagram), the principal deity occupies the center of the eight-petaled lotus. The above said eight subordinate Bhairavas occupy east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest, north and northeast.

Ashta Bhairava Physical Form

They have faces with three eyes and ten arms. They have the moon’s disc on their head. Garlands consisting of human skulls hang on their necks and their bodies are decorated with bright jewels.

Ashta Bhairava And Eight Colors

The face of Bhairava is yellow in the east, red in the southeast, cloud blue in the south, red like the flame of fire in the southwest, blue in the west, smoke-colored in the northwest, moon-colored in the north and crystal-colored in the northeast.

Ashta Bhairava And Matrikas

These Bhairavas are considered to be the superintending deities of alphabets arranged in eight groups of matrikas named Mahakali, Vaishnavi, Brahmi Maheshwari, Kameshwari, Varahi, Indrayani and Chamunda.

Ashta Bhairava Names In Sukta Tradition

In the Sukta tradition the names of the Bhairavas differ. They are called Ashtanga, Ruru, Chanda, Krodha, Unmatta, Kapalin, Bhishana and Samhara.

Symbolism of Bhairava

Bhairava is essentially of the nature of bearing, nourishing, yelling and emitting (‘bha’ – bhrana, ‘ra’ – ravana and ‘va’ vamana). Thus, the term indicates that, as the supreme reality, he maintains what he has created. Not only does he, in the form of nada (primal sound), permeate all vacaka (the indicative sounds) and all vachya indicated objects, but he also goes on creating by the process of emission.

Bhairava is viewed as nishkala (stainless, absolute, immutable and free from all attributes), but for the purpose of meditation or performing ritualistic worship, he is considered sakala, inseparably associated with kala shakti (the dynamic power). He is supposed to be surrounded by a radiant halo.