Saturday, December 1, 2007

Kalabhairavashtakam

Eight Stanzas on Kalabhairava
~by Adi Shankaracharya

To the One whose lotus feet are served king of the Devas,
That merciful One who bears the moon on His forehead,
Who wears a serpent as His sacred thread and is clad in the directions,
And who is worshipped by Narada and other yogis;
Obeisance to Kalabhairava, the Lord of city of Kashi. (1)

To the One whose luster is like a million suns,
That supreme Being who delivers us across the ocean of existence,
The blue-throated, three-eyed One who grants all wishes,
He of lotus-eyes and grave trident, who is the death of time itself;
Obeisance to Kalabhairava, the Lord of city of Kashi. (2)

To the Bearer of the spear, sword, noose and club,
That primeval Cause, the black-bodied, imperishable prime Lord,
The One free from all afflictions, the formidable Hero,
To the Lord who loves the wonderful Tandava dance;
Obeisance to Kalabhairava, the Lord of city of Kashi. (3)

To the Bestower of enjoyment and liberation,
He who is praised for His pleasant form and loves His devotees,
That Lord of the entire world, who assumes myriad forms,
And wears a waist band attached with golden bells;
Obeisance to Kalabhairava, the Lord of city of Kashi. (4)

To the Maintainer of the bridge of Dharma and the Destroyer of adharmic paths,
That Lord who saves us from the binds of karma and brings shame of misdeeds,
He whose body appears adorned because of the golden nooses He carries,
Obeisance to Kalabhairava, the Lord of city of Kashi. (5)

To Him who wears sandals studded with gems,
That eternal One without a second, the Lord of our hearts,
The stainless One, who destroys the fear of death,
He of large teeth and fearful form, the Granter of liberation;
Obeisance to Kalabhairava, the Lord of city of Kashi. (6)

To Him whose loud laughter can tear asunder all born of the egg of Brahma,
That fierce Ruler whose very sight is enough to destroy the web of sins,
To the Granter of the eight siddhis, the One who wears a garland of skulls;
Obeisance to Kalabhairava, the Lord of city of Kashi. (7)

To the Commander of the hosts of spirits and the Bestower of great glory,
That Lord, the Resident of Kashi, the Purifier of the world’s goods and evils,
He who intimately knows the path of righteousness,
The most ancient One, the Lord of the universe;
Obeisance to Kalabhairava, the Lord of city of Kashi. (8)

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On Bhairava

In the Puranas, we find that Shiva is twice insulted – first by Brahmā and then by his son, Daksha-Prajapati. Each time Shiva is insulted, a fierce being appears from Shiva and beheads the insulter. In the first instance, Brahmās fifth head is cut off by Bhairava, and in the second instance, Daksha’s head is cut off by Virabhadra. Those who analyze myths for a living tell us that the practical meaning of these legends is that the religion of Shiva had now gained prominence and usurped the Brahmā-centered religion. Whatever be the meaning of these legends, most people know of Bhairava only from these stories, and consider Him an Attendant of Shiva. Also, in numerous Shiva temples, Bhairava is stationed outside as a gate-keeper. All of this comes to us from Puranic legends.

In Shaiva Agamic theology, however, we find that Bhairava is Shiva, and Shiva is Bhairava – there is no difference whatsoever. He who is praised as Maha-Rudra in the Vedas is called Shiva, Rudra and Bhairava in the Agamas – of this there should be no confusion. In fact, the three classes of Shaiva Agamic texts are termed the Shiva, Rudra and Bhairava Agamas. Identification of Shiva as Bhairava is theologically most important in Kashmir Shaivism, which is heavily rooted in the Bhairava Agamas. In this school, the word Bhairava has been broken down into three syllables (bha-ra-va) and creatively it is said to represent bharana (sustenance), ravana (withdrawal), and vamana (bring out/creation).

Understand that the spatial reality of Bhairava is present in everything, in every being, and be this reality. (Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, verse 124)

Just as Shiva stands in the center of His eight forms (Ashtamurtis), who are regarded as the guardians of the eight directions; so Bhairava stands at the center of His eight forms (Ashta-Bhairavas), who are also regarded as the guardians of the eight directions especially in the city of Kashi (Varanasi). The central form of Bhairava is called Mahakalabhairava (“Great Fearful Time”), who is Shiva Himself, the Ruler over time. As time brings aging, death and decay, He is represented in a fearful form. Yet, Mahakalabhairava is also beyond time all the same, and that is His formless beauty.

Aum Bhairavaya Namah.

For printable version of this hymn, click here (Sanskrit, transliteration and translation).

Agnideva © 2007. All rights reserved.

4 comments:

anand krishna said...

thanks very much for the post...it is much appreciated .....great work

anand krishna said...

thanks very much for the post...it is much appreciated .....great work

seetha said...

hi..m very interested in knowing wat the verses of the vijnana bhairava tantra mean..is there any literature which can help a beginner wit not much sanskrit knowledge..i would be very glad if u could respond to ths..
seetha

Swami Yogaratna said...

Hari Om, The printable version is REALLY good! One can see the Sanskrit text in an easy to read font, the transliteration if you need that, and also the translation all on one page which is great!
The little commentary on this page is also good, not too wordy yet simple and direct.
All the best!
Om Tat Sat
Swami Yogaratna

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