Forms of Bhairava

This is part IV of Shiva the Supreme. There are Eight types of Bhairavas and they are called Ashta Bhairavas. They are Asithanga Bhairavar, Ruru Bhairavar, Chanda Bhairavar, Krodha Bhairavar, Unmatta Bhairavar, Kapala Bhairavar, Bhishana Bhairavar and Samhara Bhairavar. Apart from these eight forms there is yet another form called Swarna akarshana Bhairavar. Maha Bhairavar is said to be Shiva himself. Normally in Shiva temples idols of Bhairava are situated in the north facing, southern direction. He is also called Keshetrabalar. He appears in a standing position with four hands. His weapons are drum, pasam, trine and skull. In some forms of Bhairava, there are more than four hands. He appears without dress and with a dog. His weapons, dog, protruding teeth, terrifying looks, garland with red flowers all these give him a frightening appearance. In all Shiva temples, regular pooja rituals begin with Sun and ends with Bhairavar. Bhairavar likes ghee bath (abhishekam), red flowers, ghee lamp, unbroken coconut, honey, boiled food, fibrous fruits etc. If a Bhairavar idol is facing west it is good; facing south is moderate; facing east is not good. The right time to pray to Bhairava is midnight. During midnight it is said that Bhairava and his consort Bahiravi (Lalitha Sahasranamam 276) are together and will give darshan to their devotees. The most appropriate time is Friday midnight.

There are eight types of flowers and leaves used in archana to Bhairavar. The eight Bhairavas are said to represent five elements viz. Akash, air, fire, water and earth and other three being sun, moon and atma. Each of the eight Bhairavas are different in appearance, have different weapons, different vahanas and they bless their devotees with eight types of wealth representing ashta Lakshmis. Continuous worship of Bhairava leads the worshipper to a great Guru. There are separate dhyan slokas and moola mantras to all the eight Bhairavas. Apart from the ashta Bhairavas there is one more important Bhairava called Swarna akarshana Bhairavar. He has red complexion and clothed in golden dress. He has moon in his head. He has four hands. In one of the hands he carries a golden vessel. He gives wealth and prosperity. Performing pooja on Tuesdays gives quick results. Akasha Bhairavar is called Sarabeshwarar. In some of the ancient texts he is said to have 32 hands, shape of a bird, golden complexion, terrible teeth, and human form above the hip. Worshipping him destroys enemies. It is generally believed that worshipping Bhairavar gives prosperity, success and good progeny, prevents premature death and solution to debts and liabilities. Different forms of Bhairava evolve only from Shiva, who is called the Maha Bhairava.

Further Readings:

Bhairava The Supreme

Pervasive Bhairava

Vijnana Bhairava Tantra