Bhairav The God Of Tantra
Hinduism is one of the greatest religions in the world. More than 2 billion people around the globe follow it. In Hinduism, there are many gods and goddesses and according to mythology, they bear many responsibilities to run the world. There are many sub-branches among the main branch of Hinduism, they may follow different paths. Some are remarkably similar and there is hardly any difference between them while some are extremely diverse without many similarities.
There are many duties to run the universe and some gods take the bigger duties while some have minor duties compared to others but all play a significant role to run the world as we know it. The goddess of wealth is Laxmi, the god of creation is Brahma, the goddess of knowledge is Sarswati and likewise, the god of Tantra is Bhairav.
Tantra is a sacred and arcane tradition that is practiced in the southern part of Asia. These traditions are deeply rooted in both Hinduism and Buddhism. They are practices that are not for everyone and are believed to have mystical abilities. The practices of Tantra are very ancient and are believed to have been formed from the 1st millennium CE onwards in the anciently Indian civilization.
However, this is a speculation based on some findings and scriptures. However, some other archeologists and historians disagree with this and provide other proof against this. Whatever the case it is certain that the practice of Tantra is very ancient and was formed hundreds of years of age if not thousands.
In Hinduism, the god of Tantra is called Bhairav. Bhairav the god of Tantra is one form of Shiva which is also believed to be the most fearsome and dangerous form of the god. Other goddesses and deities are also worshipped to get mastery over the various aspects of Tantra, however, in the center of the Tantric rituals is still the playground of Bhairav hence he is called the god of Tantra.
Tantra and mantra
Tantra is performed by various means. Some actions lead to the performance of Tantra. For example, certain actions, certain postures, or certain ingredients. However, among all of these the closest connection Tantra has with more than others is Mantra.
Mantra is the ancient verses, that are said to have supernatural abilities and need to be chanted certain too many times to get mastery over it. There are many kinds of mantras some are common and can be chanted by everyone. Some are esoteric and only certain people know and can get mastery over the mantra. The mantras of the god of tantra and the goddesses of tantra are also esoteric and also unique to the group of individuals.
The use of Mantra to start the practice of tantra or to even please the god of tantra, the mantras are used. The mantra is used not just in Buddhism or in only Hinduism, both religions use the unique sacred mantras for the procedure of Tantra.
The use of Mantra in the process of Tantra in Hinduism is called Mantra Marga. It is a Sanskrit word and translates to the way of the Mantra. In Buddhism, it is called Mantra Yana (The vehicle of mantra) and Guhya mantra (the Secret Mantra).
Bhairav- The god of Tantra
Now, let us look at the origin of the god of Tantra.
As we have already discussed Bhairav- the god of Tantra is one of the many forms of Lord Shiva. It is also said that this is the most fearsome form of the god, who holds the capacity to destroy each and everything.
When the universe was new and there was nothing, Vishnu appeared and from the naval of the god sprouted a cosmic lotus and after some time from the lotus Lord Brahma appeared. Lord Brahma was born with 5 heads and was the creator of each and everything. In the beginning, due to his role as the creator, Brahma thought of himself as the superior among the three trinity Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
At first, Brahma was only arrogant with his role as the creator. However, as time passed more arrogance grew inside him. He now thought that the other two gods among the trinities need to respect him. After some time, he started avoiding his duties to the universe and after this obstructed the path for Shiva and Vishnu. This was enough and Shiva to teach Brahma the lesson, took the form of Bhairav-The god of tantra for the first time.
Bhairav went to where Brahma was and plucked out one of the 5 heads of Brahma with his bare hands. We can still see one head on the hand of the idols and pictures of Bhairav. It is the same head of Brahma that the god of Tantra had pulled. After, this incident Lord Brahma was left with 4 heads while at the beginning he had 5 heads. After, getting one of his heads being plucked out Brahma also regained his consciousness and started doing his duty rightfully.
Other Mythologies surrounding the god of Tantra
Looking at the chronological order of the appearance of the three trinities and the creation of the other gods and the entire universe the conflict with Brahma was the first time of appearance of the god of Tantra. However, this was not the last of the appearance of the god of Tantra. Among the various time to come there were various conflicts and situations where Lord Shiva had to take his fearsome form now and then.
There are many incidences of the reemergence of the god of Tantra, however among those times, the most notable was when Mahadevs wife Sati sacrificed herself on the holy fire of Yagya.
Sati was the first wife of Shiva. However, Shiva was hated by Sati’s father for his way of living and appearance. One-time Dakshya father of Sati organized a grand Yagya and invited everyone in the universe except Sati and Mahadev. When Sati found out about this she went to her father’s house and asked him why he did so. He replied that he did not invite her because if he did her husband will also come with her and he did not want Shiva in his sight. This deeply pained Sati and unable to bear the pain that came from the disrespect of her husband she sacrificed herself.
When Shiva found out about the death of his beloved wife and found out the cause he was filled with sadness and rage. Shiva once again took the form of mighty Bhairav to punish Dakshya for his heinous act.
The appearance of Bhairav-The god of Tantra
The appearance of Bhairav mainly depends upon his name. There are many types of Bhairav and their look may differ according to who they are. However, despite the name and some characters, some characters are common to all of them. The god of Tantra is popular for fierce and dangerous looks. Bhairav is depicted as a big man which has a huge body and four hands. One handhold the head of Brahma, another hand holds a trident, another holds a drum and the other one holds a noose. Sometimes he is also depicted as Digambar (One who does not wear clothes).
He has big scary eyes and a big mouth with large teeth that are coming out of the mouth. Bhairav also has one eye in a vertical position on his forehead. Bhairav rides a dog and the dog is also very fierce in appearance with large teeth and body.
Forms of Bhairav- The god of Tantra
There are many forms of Bhairav and their appearance also mostly depends on their form. In total there are 64 Bhairav’s. These 64 Bhairav’s all fall under 8 categories and each of the 8 categories has one major Bhairav which oversees them. These 8 Bhairav are also called the Ashtanga Bhairav and they all look after the 8 directions of the universe respectively.
The people of Nepal also celebrate various forms of Bhairab. Especially the residents of Kathmandu who perform various Jatra and celebrations for the god of Tantra. The most interesting thing many may not know about Kathmandu is that alongside the living goddess Kumari, which most people know there is living Bhairav also which many people may not know about.
A child born at right time under the right constellations is chosen as Bhairav and he will have to live by certain rules and regulations. Also, he will be worshipped by the locals in various ceremonies and will be the Bhairav before he becomes mature and it is the time for the new Bhairav to take his place.
There are many forms of Bhairav in Kathmandu valley, the god of Tantra is worshipped in many forms. Kaal Bhairav in Basantapur, Swet Bhairav in Basantapur, Akash Bhairav, are some of the popular forms of Bhairav in Kathmandu valley. People of Kathmandu believe that Swet Bhairav among this is the most dangerous form of Lord Shiva. There is a beautiful and magnificent idol of the god of Tantra in Basantapur as Kaal Bhairav. The idol of Swet Bhairav also can be seen near Kaal Bhairav.
The god of Tantra and Tantra
Tantra is a power that people believe to be supernatural. It is to the point that some individuals that have no idea about Tantra and only have surface knowledge fear them as the magic and rituals that can harm them. Yes, some individuals use Tantra like that after getting siddhi of Tantra from the god of Tantra Bhairav and other goddesses. However, that is not the intention of tantra as well as the god of Tantra. Tantra is the ability attained by mastering various aspects of mantra and natural energy and channeling them through the body to achieve certain goals.
Bhairav is worshipped to attain various power of tantra in various forms. The scope of Tantra is wide as well as the forms of Bhairav, various rituals, and various forms provide the knowledge and mastery of the various abilities and siddhis. In some rituals or we can even say in specific rituals the god of Tantra is worshipped alone, however, the god of tantra is also paired with the goddess for various rituals. In some rituals, the combination of the specific form of Bhairav with a specific goddess will result in the obtaining of the desired Siddhi.
The Tantric goddess and their relation with the god of Tantra
The tantric goddess can grant both Mukti and bhukti, and are sources of all energy even the source of energy of Bhairav. The wife of Mahadev is Devi Parvati who is sometimes also called Devi Shakti, she is the energy of Shiva which took the feminine form to assist him in his duties to the world. When Shiva takes the Bhairav form as the god of tantra the goddess Parvati also takes the form of various goddesses, yoginis, and deities to assist him in his duties.
The exact number of manifestations of the goddess is not exact as some sources say that the goddess has countless forms. However, one text tells that there are 1008 names of the various forms of the goddess. All these goddesses can be categorized into two parts the invincible goddess and the benevolent goddess.
The invincible goddesses are the warrior form of the goddess. They have a high combat ability and can defeat anyone in war. They have various weapons in their hands and protect their devotees from demons and bad elements. To attain the various abilities of Tantra these goddesses are also worshiped. However, it is said that to attain the siddhi of the invincible goddess is extremely hard as they are in their high energy form and not everyone can bear the energy. Only one with high tantric energy and power can do so.
The benevolent goddess is the calm form of the goddess. They symbolize the feminine part of the female energy. They are very merciful, are in a calm and composed state, are incredibly beautiful, and touch the aspects like motherhood, wealth, and providing boon.
The god of tantra Bhairav in his various form is paired with these goddesses. There are thousands of rituals as well as thousands of forms of manifestations of the god and the goddess. It takes a lifetime to learn all the Siddhis of Tantra and even that is not enough. Tantric (Ones who dedicate their entire life learning tantra and Tantric practices) are the ones who in their lifetime attain many forms of Tantra and can harness the true power of tantra and tantric rituals. Only the true union between the god of tantra and the goddess of tantra gives rise to the true power of tantra.