Bhagavadgita Pages, Chapters 1 to 18

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This write-up includes portions from Skanda Purana

    Hymns to Kālabhairava

1. I worship Kālabhairava (One of Siva's expansions). He is the Lord of Kasi. (He is the Kotwal, the Police Chief of Kāsi.)  He is full of compassion with his sacred thread made of serpents. He is naked and His forehead sports the moon. Narada Muni and a galaxy of sages adore him. 

2. I worship Kālabhairava, the Lord of Kasi. He is effulgent like a million suns. He is the savior in our Samsaric sea voyage of this world with many dangers. He fulfils all our desires; He is blue-throated from swallowing the poison to save the world; He is three-eyed with eternal supreme wisdom in his third eye. His eyes are like Lotus flowers. He is Death of death being the vanquisher of death and grantor of wisdom that serves man to defy its terror. He is indestructible, wears the garland of human skulls and carries the trident. 

Skanda Purana. Agastiya Muni asks Skanda as to who Bhairava is, his nature and exploits, his many names and forms, the means of propitiation and receiving benefits from Him.

Agastiya Muni says: Bhairava performs the dance of Tandava in a full flurry of activity and protects the world from all adverse events. He squeezes the worlds of the Cosmos with bare hands and palms as if they were a ripe mango. What he does is Prakrta Pralaya (dissolution of prakrti) when Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra cease to exist. The Maya of  Siva is very difficult to comprehend and overcome and hence no one comprehends Siva. Brahma and other deities come to know of him, only when Siva reveals himself to them. Though Siva is omnipresent, he is not seen. Deluded persons trying to comprehend him think that he is an ordinary god but he is beyond the ambit of human mind and speech.

    The Great sages go to Brahma seeking words of wisdom and knowledge of the Single Immutable Great Principle. Brahma speaking from the peak of Meru Mountain (Axis Mundi), knowing that he is the progenitor of the worlds and not comprehending the Greatness of Siva tells the sages that he is the most excellent One. He continues with his self-praise. "I am self-born and the creator and Isvara of the worlds. I am the ParaBrahman and confer liberation to my devotees who worship me. I maintain the welfare of the world and cause it to dissolve. The truth is that I am superior to all gods." Kratu is one among the sages seeking wisdom from Brahma. Upon hearing the empty words of Brahma, Kratu born of a fragment of Narayana is seething with anger which turns his eyes copper-colored, speaks these words, "What you say speaks of lack of comprehension of the Supreme Principle. You are a Yogi with great knowledge and yet do not understand that I am the creator of the worlds. I am Yajna; I am Narayana. The very existence and maintenance of the worlds are not possible without my very presence. You created this world upon my urging and orders."

    Brahma and Kratu under a cloud of delusion approach the four Vedas, the personified purveyors of the Truth. They ask the Vedas to reveal the Truth. Rg (Veda) says,"It is Rudra, the repository of all Bhutas (elements, living beings); He is the source and the highest reality." Yajus says, "The omniscient Siva adored by Yajnas and Yogis, is the hypostasis of all authoritativeness we possess." SAman says, "Tryambka, the source of all light to all that shines, is the object of meditation by Yogins and the whole cosmos moves because of him." Atharvan says, Sankara is Kaivalya (Salvation) and the destroyer of all obstacles and miseries; blessed people through devotion realize him."  Having heard from the foursome Srutis, Kratu and Vidhi (Narayana and Brahma) laugh loud and say to the Srutis, "O Srutis, How is it possible for the naked chief of Goblins with matted russet hair, dust-covered body, serpents as ornaments, bull as a VAhana, and cremation ground for dancing with Parvati to be the Supreme Brahman?" Upon hearing these unreasonable words, PranavAtman (the Soul in the form of OmkAra) takes up a form and laughs heartily at their delusion. Pranava says, "Rudra is never dissociated from Sakti who is one with him and not distinct or different from him. Siva the auspicious and personified Bliss is self-effulgent and eternal and Sakti in its absolute primary form.

    As Mahamurti (Vishnu) and Aja (Brahma) were standing in ignorance because of Maya of SrIKantha (Siva), a self-effulgent Being in the form of a man appeared standing between the earth and the heavens. The Being had a trident in his hand, a third eye in the forehead, and serpents and crescent moon as ornaments.

    Hiranyagarbha (Brahma) knowing the appearance addressed the Being, "O Rudra with the moon crest, You came out of my forehead flailing and crying which prompted me to name you Rudra. Do not hesitate to take refuge in me. I will offer protection to you."

Notes: Brahma in the first flush of creation created mind-born sages by name Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumara and (Rbhu) and asked them to proliferate. (Sanaka, Sanatana and Sanatkumara were triplets (born simultaneously), devoid of three types of miseries, according to Linga Purana 20.85-87.) Those sages, named as Urdhvaretas* (he whose vital fluid ascends facilitating the Bramacharin to attain complete mastery over his generative and recreational impulses), refused to comply, and began worshipping Lord VAsudeva. Thus disappointed, insulted, and angry, Brahma tried hard to contain his anger, but His anger broke forth as a red- colored boy from his forehead between the eyebrows. He was named Rudra, who cried, demanded, and received control of heart, senses, vital air, ether, air, fire, water, earth, sun, moon, and penance as places of his residence. Rudra means “Red and flashing One.” (Rudra = [Ru = to cry] + [ dru = to move] = to cry and move.) When an infant is born it cries and moves indicating life and breath and the need for food. The glabella-born Lord Rudra was half male and half female, the former developed into eleven Vyuhas (manifestations). Rudra received many adulatory names and many adoring wives: eleven in all, collectively known as Rudranis. Vayu Purana ( Chapter 27) lists only eight such manifestations (Astamurti) of Rudra. Glabella = Trikuuti = bone of the forehead or protuberance.

    The Lotus-born Lord Isvara became angry at the impudence of Brahma created a KAlabhairava of terrifying appearance and addressed him, "O Klabhairava, this Lotus-born Brahma deserves chastisement. I name you KAlarAja. You are also Bhairava (one who can bear the Universe or One whose roar (rava) induces fear (bhi). Even KAla (Time) would be afraid of you and so you are KAlabhairava. 

Hymn to Kalabhairava

3.  I worship Kālabhairava, the Lord of Kasi of black body, the primeval cause, holding in His hands axe, noose, staff, and trident. He is Mahadeva, imperishable, formidable, powerful and incorruptible. He is Vichitra-tandava-Priyan (wonderful-dance-lover).  (His stage is the cosmos and the body. He is the Antar-Atman (Inner Being) who dances into and out of our lives as He does in the cosmos. His dance is the life of the universe of beings and atom.)

4. I worship Kālabhairava, the Lord of Kasi. He is of a great and effulgent body; He is the granter of  Bhukti and Mukti (enjoyment and liberation). He smiles and showers grace on his devotees. His body is this universe. His waist sports a girdle with beautiful tinkling bells made of gold.

5. I worship Kālabhairava, the Lord of Kasi. He is the protector of the bridge of Dharma (consisting of law, order, duty and religion) spanning the chasm between evil and good. He is the destroyer of the path of Adharma. He is the emancipator from the clutches of Karma. He is the grantor of weal to all. His golden body shows adornment with coils of serpents.

6. I worship Kālabhairava, the Lord of Kasi, whose feet are effulgent with gems. He, stainless one without a second, is the eternal Ishtadevata, destroyer of ego and pride, and emancipator from the yawning jaws of God of Death.

7. I worship Kālabhairava, the Lord of Kasi, who shatters the Brahma-anda of Brahma (He is the destroyer of the created world of the Lotus-born Brahma--the egg of Brahma = Brahma-anda) by his loud laughter. He is a sturdy and strong ruler, whose glance breaks the entangling net of sin. He is the grantor of eight Siddhis (anima, mahima, garima, laghima, prapti, prakamya, isitva, and vasitva.)  BG11, and sports serpents as the garland on his shoulders.

8.  I worship Kālabhairava, the Lord of Kasi, the Emancipator of all, the grantor of fame, the all-pervasive One, who cleanses and purifies both Punyam and Papam (merit and sin) of the people of Kasi. He is the beginningless ancient Lord of the world, very much adept in NItimarga (Doctrine ethics and proper conduct).

Skanda Purana

Siva addresses Kalabhairava,

"O KAlabhairava, your rage will destroy the wicked. You will be known as PApabhaksana, since you will devour all the sins of your devotees. You will be the Lord of the City of KAsI (Kasi), the city of emancipation, from now on. You will take the roll  of Chitragupta to punish the sinners. He (Chitragupta, the chronicler of merits and demerits) will divest his roll to record the merits and demerits of people".

KAlabhairava immediately went into action and sliced off one of the five heads of Brahma for defying Siva with the fifth finger nail of his left hand. Vishnu in the form of Yajna eulogized Sankara; Brahma reduced to four heads, terrified of Kalabhairava began chanting Satarudriya.  MahAdeva, having been pleased with their obeisance and worship, was happy and consoled them both.

    Siva addressed KAlabhairava to go begging to absolve the sin of killing a Brahmana (slicing the head of Brahma). This is an instance that even god is not immune from punishment for any culpability. Siva before leaving from in front of Bhairava created a female form, BhamahatyA, who was red in color, wore red garments and red garlands, had a horrific face with fangs as teeth and lolling tongue, floated in the air with her feet in the vault of heaven and drank blood. She carried a knife and a broken pot; her eyeballs were bright; she roared frequently terrifying even Bhairava. Siva asked the ferocious-looking lady to accompany Bhairava everywhere except the City of Varnasi.  So saying Siva vanished. As Brahmahatya stayed close to Bhairava (KAlakAla--Death) as a shadow, he became black and observed the KApAlikavrata and went to the three worlds giving spiritual advice to people. KAsi was the holiest of holy places that he visited in the three worlds. Bhairava went to the abode of Narayana, Vishnu, DEvas and sages fell prostrate at the feet of Bhairava. Vishnu addressing Lakshmi, eulogized Bhairava. Vishnu wondered aloud as to why Bhairava-Sambu (Siva) was wandering as a beggar with half a skull as a begging bowl. Siva-Sambhu-Bhairava answered, "I sliced Brahma's head with the nail at the tip of my little finger. O Vishnu, to expiate that sin I do the begging." Vishnu answered," OLord of the worlds, I created millions of Brahmas in every Kalpa from my navel-lotus and your overwhelming Maya is understandable to me. You wear the heads of all the previous  Brahmas around your neck. You have assumed a body on account of the sin of Brahmana-slaughter; it is will and whim of yours. We are all blessed by your presence here. " Laksmi offered alms to Siva into his bowl. Vishnu ordered Brahmahatya to stay off him and yet that admonition did not prevent her from staying close to Bhairava. Isvara (Siva) eulogized Vishnu and the merit of City of VArAnasI, the mother of liberation. A year of donation of food to the deserving family ears merit in heaven for one whole Yuga. (1 MahaYuga = 4,320,000 years.)

Table: The Yugas







1,728,000 Years

Age of Perfection




1,296,000 Years

Age of Triad




864,000 Years

Age of Doubt




432,000 years

Age of Vice



Maha (total)

4,320,000 years




The Papam from Brahmana slaughter is expunged on uttering the name Of the City of KAsI once. When Bhairava entered the City of VAranAsI (KAsI), the ever-hounding Brahmahatya girl screamed Alas and disappeared into the Nether world. The skull of beheaded Brahma which was stuck to the hand of Bhairava thus far, dropped and gave much relief to Bhairava who jumped for joy. He utters the Mantra, VAranAsI, KAsI thrice daily throughout his life never takes birth in the world again. A man dying in KAsI never takes birth again. Kasi is the physical body of Siva-Rudra. Honoring the holy spot of Kapalamocana in Kasi, Bhairava (Papabhaksana) was eating the sin of his devotees. A city dweller of Kasi who does not worship Bhairava, his sins increase like the moon in the bright half of the month.