Daśa Mahāvidyā दश महाविद्या

6.त्रिपुरभैरवी Tripurabhairavī

This is the sixth of ten Mahāvidyā-s. Tri means three; pura means fortress, castle, city, town, etc; Bhairavi refers to the Consort of Bhairava, a form of Shiva. Three mythologically refers to three forts ruled by three demons. But, they subtly convey three different stages of consciousness, active, dream and deep sleep. She is in the form of all triads.  For example, She is in the form of Brahma, Viṣṇu and Rudra; Icchā, jñāna and kriyā śakti-s; creation, sustenance and destruction; the three nādi-s, iḍā, piṅgala and suṣumna; three worlds, bhūr, bhuva, suvaḥ; three guṇa-s sattvic, rajasic and tamsic.  She is in the form of all such triads and once these triads are transcended, the Brahman is attained. In other words, once we have Her Grace, we can realize Shiva. Hence She is called Tripurabhairavī.

Bhairavī is exclusive Power of Bhairava. Ultimate is Brahman or Śiva, who transcends everything and abides in transcendental eminence, because He simply wants to remain there. This transcendental eminence is known as Śaktī. Practically speaking, there is no difference between Śiva and Śaktī. While Śiva is called Supreme, His unsurpassable divine energy is known as His Śaktī. She is known as anugrahātmika, the Grace incarnate. She is present in all conditions as the divine consciousness. The divine “I” consciousness is eternally present and hence Śiva is subjective in all the actions of the universe. Therefore, Śiva becomes the Ultimate Reality. Without Śiva, the universe cannot exist as He alone is Self-illuminating. This Self-illuminating light is prakāśa, without which no activity can happen in the universe. This light alone cannot cause activities in the universe. The light can be realized only if there are objects as otherwise, the luminance of prakāśa becomes unknown. Śiva can know His unsurpassable power only through vimarśa. Therefore, vimarśa (Bhairavī) becomes the reasoning factor of prakāśa, without which, prakāśa will remain obscure. In other words, without Śaktī, Śiva becomes inert. It is not that Śaktī is more potent than Śiva. Factually speaking, Śaktī would not have originated as an independent energy, but for the will of Śiva. Śiva has given His power of authority or svātantrya to Śaktī, without which She cannot carry out the universal process. Because of this Supreme power or svātantrya, Śaktī manifests as ‘This’, whereas, Śiva continues to remain the Supreme “I” consciousness. It is due to the will of Śiva, Bhairavī creates nara or souls who get bound by Her illusionary power known as māyā.

Again, Tripurabhairavī is set to be residing in mūlādhāra chakra. Her mantra consists of three bījākśara-s and all they form an inverted triangle in the centre of mūlādhāra chakra. She is the creator in mūlādhāra chakra in the form of kāmarūpā, which consists of three bindu-s (dots) forming an inverted triangle, from which all triads are born, which ultimately leads to the creation of this universe. The innermost triangle of mūlādhāra chakra is known as kāmarūpā. The three points of triangle have three bījākśara-s and the three bījākśara-s connected to each other by the sides of the triangle and each of these sides represent icchā śakti, jñāna śakti and kriyā śakti or the Divine will, Divine knowledge and Divine action. Divine action is the final stage of manifestation, the first two being desire to create and the requisite knowledge to create. How can She alone create? Shiva is there within that triangle. This also goes to prove that Śiva and Śakti are inseparable (Source: Ṣaṭcakra Nirūpaṇa). In Her yantra, the inverted triangle and the central bindu are prominently depicted (as in Śri Cakra).

What is the difference between Tripurasundarī and Tripurabhairavī. Tripurabhairavī is posited as the latent energy (existing in unconscious or dormant form but potentially able to achieve expression; the energy contained in an object as a result of its position in space, its internal structure, and stresses imposed on it) whereas as Tripurasundarī who causes this latent energy to actualize and moves this energy upwards towards higher chakras till brahmarandhra at sahasrāra.

She is also known as Vāk Devi, from whom speech originates. Speech originates from Prakāśa and vimarśa form of the Brahman, frequently referred while discussing the Supreme Reality or the Absolute. Generally it is to be understood that prakāśa form represent Śiva and vimarśa form represent Śakthī. Śiva or Parameśvara (parama means the highest) is pure and unblemished self-illuminating light and Śaktī or vimarśa is the realisation of this pure light. Prakāśa and vimarśa cannot be separated. There is a Sanskrit saying that word and its meaning cannot be separated; in the same way Pārvatī or Śaktī and Parameśvaran or Śiva cannot be separated from each other. When there is a brilliant light, one needs to have knowledge to realise it as light. Suppose, there is a candle burning, and on seeing the candle with light, one can say that the candle gives light. When one wants to see a candle light, he needs to have a lighted candle. The light and its visibility though separate, are interdependent. Visibility is the expression of light and without the source of the light, visibility becomes impossible.  In the same way, light is of no use, if it is not reflected making the visibility possible. Both light and its expression together is known as light. This is called prakāśa vimarśa māyā or the Absolute. Sound originates from this Absolute form. This Absolute form is also called parāvāc, which is primeval stage. The sound in this stage can be called as a seed that has not yet germinated. When the seed begins its germination, the stage is called paśyantī.  At this stage the seed has the desire to grow. The stem becomes visible and the seed is set to commence its journey of growth. Though it is certain that there is going to be a tree at a future date, one does not know how the tree would be, big or small, fruit bearing or barren etc. When the sapling grows to a certain height, one is able to see its leaves, he will be able to identify what type of tree that would be. This stage is called madhyamā. The sapling further grows to become a tree, when one is able to see its flowers and fruits. He is able to recognize the nature of this seed totally now. The complete form of the tree is known at this stage. This is called vaikharī stage. These three stages originated from the form of the Absolute, the seed in this example. Absolute form is called as parāvāc. Parā mean the highest form or the supreme form and vāc means sound. Parāvāc means the supreme form of sound. From this parā form or the seed form sound germinates, grows and yields words.  The result is a full word with meaning. In a human being this parāvāc is said to be in the form of kuṇḍalinī energy posited in mūlādāra cakra or base cakra. From the base cakra, the seed of the sound begins its ascent, reaches manipūraka cakra or navel cakra in the form of paśyantī, moves to anāhat cakra or heart cakra in the form madhyamā and reaches viśuddhi throat cakra as vaikharī where the final cleansing takes place. From the throat cakra the physical form of words are delivered. The vibration of kuṇḍalinī energy is the seed of the sound. When a desire of speech arises, it manifests as Śabda Brahman at mūlādhāra and moves up to take a physical form and delivered through throat cakra in the form of vaikharī. Śabda Brahman is the Brahman in the form of sound.

Like universe manifesting from the Brahman, words originate from Śabda Brahman. In reality, these two Brahmans are not different.

Apart from the above aspects, there are other descriptions about Her forms and activities. Since She is spoken of Shiva’s Consort, naturally His powers rest with Her. She is Shiva’s Svātantrya Śaktī (Independent and exclusive Power of Shiva).

She is described with various forms. She is seated on a lotus; with four hands; one with a book, one with rosary beads, one with chin mudra and another with varada mundra. In another form, she is carrying a sword and a cup containing blood and other two hands showing abhaya and varada mudras. She is also depicted as sitting on Shiva, which is more predominant in tantric worship. She is also depicted as a queen, closely resembling Rājarājesvarī.  


There are many types of mantras for Her, based on the form with which She is contemplated. Some of them are given here.

1. Tripurabhairavī:

हसैं हसकरीं हसैं॥ hasaiṁ hasakarīṁ hasaiṁ ||

2. Tripurabhairavī pañcakūṭā mantra (पञ्चकूटा मन्त्र):

ह्स्रौं ह्स्क्ल्रीं हस्रौं॥ hsrauṁ hsklrīṁ hasrauṁ ||

3. Tripurabhairavī sampatpradā mantra (सम्पत्प्रदा मन्त्र):

हस्रैं ह्स्क्ल्रीं हस्रैं॥ hasraiṁ hsklrīṁ hasraiṁ ||

4. Rudrabhairavī mantra (रुद्रभैरवी मन्त्र):

हस्ख्फ्रें हस्क्ल्रीं हसौः॥ haskhphreṁ hasklrīṁ hasauḥ ||

5. Bhuvaneśavarī bhairavī mantra (भुवनेशवरी भैरवी मन्त्र)

हसैं हस्क्ल्ह्रीं हसौः॥ hasaiṁ hasklhrīṁ hasauḥ ||

Further Readings

Bagalamukhi and Tripurabhiravi Curse Removal Mantras