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Bhairava – As Deity Worshiped By Gamblers

It is believed that Bhairava manifestation of Shiva was worshiped by gamblers as the deity to give them luck and success in gambling. The form of Bhairava worshiped by gamblers was naked with three eyes and he placed his head on his knee in despair.

It is believed that Shiva took this form after losing moon, elephant and elephant hide to Goddess Parvati in a game of dice.

This form of Bhairava was only left with jata (matted locks), bhasma (ash) and kapal (skull). He has smeared his body with ash and eats from skull.

But even in this state Bhairava protects and feeds the living beings in the universe.
Gamblers often ask for forgiveness from Bhairava for gambling.

Gamblers compare the three eyes of Bhairava with the three pieces of dice.

Bhairava as deity of gamblers is mentioned in the Kathasaritsagara written by Pandit Somadeva between 1063 to 1081 AD. But Kathasaritsagara is based on a much earlier work, Brihatkatha of Gunadhya written in Paishachi language around first century AD.

So it is firmly concluded that Bhairava form of Shiva was very popular among common people much before 1st century AD.