G.Pathmanathan ( Dept of Anthropology, Panjab University, Chandigarh ( India)  and P.Raghavan ( School of Archaeology and Anthropology), Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.



Sri Vairavar (Sri Bhairav Murthi) has a special status at Nallur Sri Skanda Temple at Jaffna. He has a special shrine facing the Eastern Path. Sri Bhairav Utsav is held twice during the Maha Brahmotsav celebration. They are held a day before and a day after the Maha Utsav period.

The birth or origin of Lord Bhairav(a) Murthi ( Sri Vairava Murthi) is explained in Shiva Puranam/ Shiv Puran ( one of the eighteen Puranas). Once Lord Brahma (God of Creation) who was influenced by anava (arrogance), confronted Lord Maha Vishnu (God of Protection), structured that as he was the mighty one among the Hindu Gods thus should be regarded as the Moolamurthi (First/ Prime God). Angered by the behavior of Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva incarnated himself into the form of Lord Bhairav and beheaded one of the five heads of Lord Brahma – ever since after this episode, Lord Brahma is seen with only four heads. Lord Shiva in Lord Bhairav form known as KaalBhairav or Kaala Vairavar in Tamil. The guilt feeling (Brahahatyapap) of Lord Shiva for killing a Brahmin (Lord Brahma) made him to roam around the world as Bhishatana ( as a Beggar with the Skull of  Lord Brahma). It took 12 long years to absolved the sin of murdering a Brahmin. In North India, according to the Aryan Chapter of Hinduism, Lord Bhairav is the son of Maha Kali (an aggressive form of Goddess Parvati) and Lord Shiva  who roams the cremation grounds with Ma Kali.

Lord Bhairav is a popular God among the Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Sinhalese call him as Bhairawa Deiyo. Jaffna Peninsula houses many Lord Bhairav Temples than any other temples devoted to other Hindu Gods. During the ancient Portuguese period, the rulers were ruthless in killing the Hindus and razing Hindu Temples. Conversion of religion was in full swing. Scared devotees built up the small Lord Bhiarav Temples in their courtyards. The Trident or Trishul is a weapon that represents Lord Sri Bhairav. People made “flexible Thrishul blades “at the junctions of the left and right wings which could be converted into Holy Cross. This exercise made them to escape from the capital punishment of the fanatic Catholic regime.

In the form of the mighty Lord Bhairava, Lord Shiva is said to be guarding each of these Shaktipeeths/ Shaktipeedam. Each Shaktipeeth Temple is accompanied by a Temple dedicated to Lord Bhairava.

Sri Swarna (Golden) Kala Vairavar Temple can be found at Kaga Ashram, Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. Lord Bhairav Murthi Temples or Shrines  can be found within or nearby most Shivalayas or Jyotirlinga Temples. KashiVishvanath Temple at Benaris/ Varanasi/ Kashi has the largest Lord Bhairav Shirine.

Lord Bhairav is considered to be the Guardian God and he protects his devotees from evils.He has choosen Dog as his vahan. This reflects the importance of faithfulness and gratitude.He is known as Shvaneshwar ( Rider of the Holy Dog). Suvan means Dog in Sanskrit. Kal Bairav is also known as Maha Nirvana Murthi who is in a naked appearance. Lord Bhairav’s Shrines are found at the Goddess Shakti Temples or Shaktipeethas. Lord Shiva has created 52 forms of Lord Bhiarav by self manifestation to protect 52 Shaktipeethas.

Lord Bhairav is the Guru to Sri Shani Bhagwan. Number 13 is the most favorite number of Lord Bhairav. He wears a range of twisted serpents as his ornaments around his body and  adorns a chain made of human bones.

Sri Bhairav Jayanti:

Bhairava Ashtami commemorating the day Kal Bhairav appeared on earth, is celebrated on Krishna pakshaAshtami of the Margashirsha month of Hindu calendar with special prayers and rituals

Lord Bhairava has eight manifestations and popularly known as  Ashta Bhairava. They protect the devotees in all eight directions.

  • Asithaanga Bhairava
  • Ruru Bhairava
  • Chanda Bhairava
  • Krodha Bhairava
  • Unmattha Bhairava
  • Kapaala Bhairava
  • Bheeshana Bhairava
  • Samhaara Bhairava

Kaala Bhairava (Kaala Vairavar)  Gayatri Mantra(m)

Om Kaalakaalaaya vidhmahey

Kaalaatheethaaya dheemahi

Thanno Kaala Bhairava Prachodhayaath.


Chant this Gayatri Mantra 108 times at sunrise and request Lord Kala Bhairava to help you use your time effectively throughout the day.


The Hindu reformer Sri  Adi Sankara   has written a beautiful hymn on Kala Bhairava of Kashi which is called as Kalabhairavashtakam  Bhagawath Pada.

Kalabhairavashtakam with Meaning in English


Kalabhairavaashtakam = Kala + Bhairava + Ashtakam = 8 verses on Kala Bhairava.



Deva raja sevya mana pavangri pankajam,

Vyala yagna suthra mindu shekaram krupakaram,

Naradadhi yogi vrundha vandhitham digambaram,

Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. (1)



I salute Kalabhairava, the lord of the city of Kasi,

Whose lotus like feet is being served by Devendra,

Who is merciful and wears the moon on his forehead,

Who wears a snake as his sacred thread,

Who wears the different directions as his cloth,

And who is worshipped by sages like Narada.


Bhanu koti bhaswaram, bhavabdhi tharakam param,

Neelakanda meepsidartha dayakam trilochanam,

Kalakala mambujaksha maksha soola maksharam,

Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. (2)


I salute Kalabhairava, the lord of the city of Kasi,

Who shines like billions of suns,

Who helps us cross this miserable ocean of life,

Who is supreme and has a blue neck,

Who has three eyes and grants us our desires,

Who is the death to the God of death*,

Who has lotus flower like eyes,

Who has the undefeatable trident,

And who does not have decay.


Soola tanga pasa danda pani madhi karanam,

Syama kaya madhi devamaksharam niramayam,

Bheema vikramam prabhum vichithra thandava priyam,

Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. (3)


I salute Kalabhairava, the lord of the city of Kasi,

Who has a spear, a chord and a stick as weapons,

Who is black in colour and the primeval cause,

Who is deathless and the first God,

Who is free from decay and ill health,

Who is the Lord who is a great hero,

And who likes the special vigorous thandava*


Bhukthi mukthi dayakam prasashtha charu vigraham,

Bhaktha vatsalam shivam* , samastha loka vigraham,

Vinikwanan manogna hema kinkini lasath kateem,

Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. (4)


I salute Kalabhairava, the lord of the city of Kasi,

Who fulfills desires and also grants salvation,

Who is well known for his pretty mien,

Who is a form of Shiva, who loves his devotees,

Who is the God of the entire world,

Who assumes various forms,

And who has a golden waist thread,

On which jingling bells are tied.


Dharma sethu palakam, thwa dharma marga nasakam,

Karma pasa mochakam , susharma dayakam vibhum,

Swarna varna sesha pasa shobithanga mandalam,

Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. (5)


 I salute Kalabhairava, the lord of the city of Kasi,

Who maintains the bridge of dharma in life,

Who destroys paths which are not right,

Who saves us from the ties of Karma,

Who is the lord who makes us ashamed,

When trying to do wrong things,

Who has a shining body because of golden rope,

With bells tied in various places.


Rathna padukha prabhabhirama padayugmakam,

Nithyamadwidheeyamishta daivatham niranjanam,

Mrutyu darpa nasanam karaladamshtra mokshanam,

Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. (6)


 I salute Kalabhairava, the lord of the city of Kasi,

Who has feet adorned by the shine of gem studded sandals,

Who is eternal and does not have any one second to him,

Who is our favorite God who bestows everything,

Who takes away the fear of death from humans,

And who grants them salvation by his terrible teeth.


Attahasa binna padma janda kosa santhatheem,

Drushti pada nashta papa jala mugra sasanam,

Ashtasidhi dayakam kapala malikadaram,

Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. (7)


 I salute Kalabhairava, the lord of the city of Kasi,

Whose loud roar is enough to destroy all those created by Brahma,

Whose sight is sufficient to destroy all sins,

Who is crafty and strict ruler,

Who can grant the eight occult powers,

And who wears the garland of skulls.


Bhootha sanga nayakam, vishala keerthi dayakam,

Kasi vasa loka punya papa shodhakam vibum,

Neethi marga kovidham purathanam jagatpathim,

Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. (8)


 I salute Kalabhairava, the lord of the city of Kasi,

Who is the chief of the society of Bhoothas,

Who grants broad based fame,

Who is the lord who judges good and bad deeds,

Of those who live in Varanasi,

Who is an expert in the way of righteousness,

And who is eternally old and lord of the universe.


Kalabhairavashtakam patanthi yea manoharam,

Jnana mukthi sadhanam , vichithra punya vardhanam,

Soka moha dainya lopa kopa thapa nasanam,

Thea prayanthi Kalabhairavangri saniidhim druvam. (9)


Those who read this enticing octet on Kalabhairava,

Which is the source of eternal knowledge,

Which increases the effect of righteous deeds,

And which destroys grief, passion, poverty, want and anger,

Would surely reach the holy presence of Kalabhairava.


May Lord Kaala Bhairava showers his blessing upon all !!!

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