15) Worshipping Bhairavi (An extension of my friend’s article)

One of the bloggers that I started following recently, my spiritual friend, has the following post: here. The exposition and expressions were marvelous. That article kindled my mind to extend the scope of the topic and/or add some in-between lines. I never developed on some one’s article/idea before. So, let us see how it unfolds!
blue bold text is from the article linked above and the color black will be used for my text.
Mahadevi, the supreme mother goddess in Hindu religion has many names and forms. She is known as Devi, Sati, Uma, Parvati, and Gauri.

  • Dēvi: By the root ‘dyu’/’div’ she is an embodiment of LIGHT, and by the ending ‘i’, shows the expressive ability or germinating ability. Thus, she is the divine being who is the cause of the birth of dēvās. Dēvās are the functional principles of this Universe (may it be breath, or hunger or seed growing into a tree or planets forming or gravity — ever principle is presided by Dēva) and hence, DĒVI is the ruler of all those principles.
  • Sati: The ever accompanying one. She can not be seperated form her source. Like, SUN and SUN-LIGHT or EYE and EYE-SIGHT, she is always accompanying her source.
  • Uma: Can be thought of as U + Ma. ‘U’ is symbolical to Rajas, for it is part of A-U-M the triplicity of Om. ‘Ma’ has one meaning as mother and other meaning as that which measures. ANything that measures should be superior to that which is being measured, for if not, the measurement will be incomplete. Rajas, is the quality of expression in the Universe. Thus, UMA is the one who measures the expressions of this Universe. But, as the Universe is verily her expression and a meter stick can not make a measurement on itself, SHE is the ONE beyond any measures!!
  • Pārvati:This name is originated from the story of her birth in the Mountain. There are many stories of her being born in mountain. But why? why did she not born on land? In those stories, the ‘mountain’ implies a MĒRU and a mēru always implies, in respect to GODDESS, “Śri CAKRA”. So, she is the daughter of Śri Cakra, while her mother being Paramēśwari. The relation between them is like that of a glass of water from an ocean and the ocean. They are verily same in all essence.
  • Gauri: One way to divide this word is “Gauḥ+Ri”. “Gauḥ” means LIGHT — hence the words Gau (cow in physical sense and light rays in vedic sense), Gōcāra (movement of planets — bodies of reflected lights), etc. ‘R+i’ –> again symbolizes that which is expressed (hence Rig Veda literally means expressed wisdom — root: ‘Rik’). Thus Gauri is the one who is embodiment of LIGHT and expresses this LIGHT into this or as this UNIVERSE.

We see in all the above method of understanding that, the same GODDESS — depending on the primary roles of beauties to be mentioned in a context, is given so many names.

She manifested herself to Shiva in ten forms: Kali, Bagala, Chhinnamasta, Bhuvaneshvari, Matangini, Shodashi, Dhumavati, Tripura Sundari, Tara, and Bhairavi.
Lets not go into etymology here, for it will be redundant. I will leave it to the reader to venture into the depths (hint: Use Nirukta, if possible). But interesting aspect my friend brought here is “TEN” forms. TEN is a magnificent number associated with many esoteric concepts. Why did she manifest in TEN? why not 11 or 9 or any other number? This can be understood, if one ventures into what is known as “Dasa Mahā Vidyās”. And I will direct the reader to the last paragraph of my article (11 of my blog) where I use a number analogy and give the importance of TEN. One should always keep an eye on specificities, for, it is no coincidence that these numbers and specific colors and details are given in a story (story to us, but actually its a parable and encoded teaching).

As per Parashurama Kalpasutra, a tantric ritual text, composed in the 16th century in the Southern part of India, name Bhairavi is derived from the words Bharana (to create), Ramana (to protect), and Vamana (to emit or disgorge). The name symbolizes three primary cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction.

  • Though, the etymology is clear in this paragraph, it is better to go little further. ‘Bha’ is the ability to express outward. That is why SUN is called ‘BHĀNU’, as he has the ability to emit RAYS and similarly the glow of fire is called “BHAGA”. Thus, BHA is creating/expressing ability — Śṛuṣti.
  • ‘Ra’ as I mentioned earlier is that which is expressed. Also, as given above it may mean protect, which implies that which ‘sustains’ (or the term expressed in its present continuous tense) — Sthithi.
  • ‘Vi’ in sanskrit also means ‘SPECIAL’ — viśēṣa or viśiṣṭa, etc. Or it is better, in this context to take the root to be implying ‘Vaśam’, meaning capture or culminate — ‘Laya‘.
  • The interesting add on for this is, to see the name “BHĀRATA” with same exposition as above, but instead of vi, we have ta. Ta also symbolizes Tamō Guṇa. Hence equivalent.

In this way, when approached logically, and with guidance of the context, SANSKRIT terms which are pregnant with many a meaning, will shower upon us with the right meaning. So, here, my friend is suggesting that the goddess BHAIRAVĪ, is none other than the causal aspect of creation – sustenance – destruction. So she is beyond the three and hence unconditioned by the three and hence the lord of the lords.

Partner of a tantric or a woman who has reached highest stages of consciousness is also called Bhairavi.
Exoterically, a tāntrik practice requires you to have a male and a female partner. Esoterically, your qualitative body — mind, intellect, senses, physical body, etc., are all combinedly called the female partner. The YOU inside you or the true sense of ‘I AM’ behind the false ego of ‘i am’, is the male partner. Thus, you are verily the two partners and when you reach the state of highest consciousness, meaning the female and male aspects culminate — like śiva and śakti unites, what remains is SadāŚiva or ParāDēvī or Bhairavī, (equivalence of these names is established earlier) or what ever you call — the causes of all causes or that aspect which is unconditioned by the three guṇās. So, when you are one with the ONE, what else will you be called? of course BHAIRAVĪ.
As per Vigyana Bhairava Tantra (a text from Bhairav Agama), Vigyana means knowledge, and ‘Bhairava’ is the ultimate supreme who has gone beyond fear or death. Tantra means technique or practices. Shiva is known as Bhairava and Devi is known as Bhairavi – those who have gone beyond the dualities. Vigyan Bhairav Tantra is an important text in the Tantrik literature. In this text, Parvati, Shiva’s consort sitting on the lap of Shiva, by completely surrendering to him, asks him to reveal the fundamental truth. She asks him about the path for achieving the supreme consciousness. Shiva tells 112 meditation techniques to achieve the same. Shiva is the Guru and Devi is the disciple here.
It is considered that attaining Bhairava is impossible as he is incomprehensible and invincible. One can only attain Bhairavi. And Bhairavi is nothing but the divine energy of Shiva. Bhairavi is the stage when the mind is devoid of ego and is empty. Ultimately both Shiva and Devi are one.
These two paragraphs contain many interesting points to be noted.

  • First, let us see what TANTRA is. As my friend points out, it is a way of practice. But, lets go little deeper into its meaning. Are all practices called tantra? No. Specific practices are only named tantra. The root word that germinates tantra is “TRA” — means to protect. That is why, Gayatri — “Gayantē Trayatē iti Gyatri“meaning, that which protects the singer of this (gayatri/mantra composed in gayatri meter). So, TANTRA is that which protects the follower of a practice. Not all practices protect you. TANTRIC practices are specifically designed to protect you. Here protect does not only mean the protection in normal sense. It also means that the path is so systematized that you are by default protected from falling off. Also, TANTRA is that which united — MANTRA and YANTRA. Some times TANTRA is used equivalently to MANTRA (mantra śāstra). MANTRA and YANTRA are but non-physical and physical expressions or one and same aspect proclaimed by TANTRA. Owing to so many reasons, TANTRA is a mystic branch.
  • Then, Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra, now reveals the meaning easily. The wisdom of Bhairava that protects us from everything is verily this tantra.
  • Now, previously we have established the equivalence of Sadā Śiva or Paramēśwara and Sadā Śakti or Pramēśwari. They are equivalently called Bhariva and Bhairavi. The very interesting aspect here is the ending vowels. one is ‘a’ and the other is ‘i’. Take their phonetic sounds. In Sanskrit, the unity of ‘a’ and ‘i’ gives you the vowel ‘ē’ (as in elephant). The same ‘e’ forms the root for the word — ‘ĒKAṂ‘ meaning UNITY. Thus, we see the unision of Śiva and Śakti is again a UNITY. But, in almost every story, we find the depictions like Śakti on the lap of Śiva (like in above paragraph) or Śakti on the chest of lying Śiva, etc. These imageries are to be taken as a whole, which then would mean that they both are two sides of one coin. But, when we see a coin, we always see a side of it and always there is a side hidden — we can not see both at same time (unless we are realized and become the coin itself). Instead of naming the side of the coin as śakti, it is apt to name the aspect of ‘sight of the side of a coin’ as ‘SAKTI and the ‘aspect of always hidden side of the coin’ as Śiva (of course in their Parā aspects). That is why, my firend here is hinting that it is hard and extremely impossible to achieve Śiva but its easy to achieve Śakti. But once achieved, we become the coin itself and thus, have no sides as such and we are ONE unit and so, we are verily BHAIRAV + A or I.

As per Todala Tantra, Bhairavi as garlanded with flowers which have the aura of the red rays of 1,000 rising suns. She has four hands, three eyes and her body is smeared with red. She is holding milk and book in her hands.
This small paragraph is pregnant with many esoteric points. Actually, all the above imagery can be seen in LALITA SAHASRA NAAMA.

  • ‘RED’ is the color of ‘THE Goddess’ — called as ‘ARUṆA‘. This is actually the color of rising SUN. You see, even before sunrise occurs, there is a redness in the sky. That is called ARUṆA. This symbolizes the aspect of HER presence even before the creation starts — which is asserted by first paragraph, as she is beyond the creation/destruction. Also, ARUṆA is symbolism of LOVE, in scriptures. It is also the color of female reproductive agent – Śoṇita. The life of humans — BLOOD is red, as SHE is the very LIFE giver of us. For so many reasons, she is described as RED/ARUṆA.
  • In Lalita Sahasra Nāma, you will see “UDYADBHĀNU SAHASRĀBHA …” meaning that she is glowing with the brightness of 1000 rising suns. Also, in the same set of 1000 names, another name suggests “PANCA TANMĀTRA SĀYAKĀ” – meaning she has five senses as the five flowery-arrows. This is one way to look. There is another esoteric way to look at the same symbolism of flowers and 1000. A flower is always symbolical for an evolution — from seed to plant to bud to flower to seed and cycle repeats. FLOWER is epitome of the evolutionary cycle. And, SAHASRA (1000) is made up of — ‘SA + HA + SA + RA‘. Close your eyes and listen to the breath that you take by closing your mouth, through nose. The sound it makes, as it passes through nostrils is a hissing sound — symbolised by ‘ssssssss’ or ‘Sa‘. When you exhale, it exists through vocal region causing a “Haaaaaaa’ kind of sound. That is why it is symbolized by ‘Ha‘. The second ‘SA’ symbolizes the periodicity in the breath. As before, ‘RA‘ is the expressive ability and here, it is the trill that occurs in vocals and is necessary for uttering a WORD, utilizing the breath. So, SAHASRA, means the ONE who inhales, exhales and utters the creation as HIS/HER breath periodically. That is why, the creation is called BREATH of BRAḤMAN. So, 1000 can mean this or many, not only thousand. SAHASRA implies infinite, as well.
  • Same lalita sahasra nama, says she has four hands and has the following in her hands: 1) RĀGA, 2) KRŌDHA, 3) MANAS and 4) PANCA TANMĀTRĀS. Four hands symbolize HER grip on these aspects. In our lives, these four are necessary and sufficient conditions for our existence. We have five sense from which we observe/input the world information.Mind acts on it and it either has a positive – RĀGA feeling for it or a negative – KRŌDHA feeling for it. Our lives are sum total of these expressions. So, in suggesting that SHE has four hands, it is being told that SHE controls our lives in the above specificity and hence if we take shelter under her, our lives will be smooth. Four hands also symbolize the four kingdoms — Mineral, plant, animal and human. Also, FOUR states of consciousness: Jāgrit(wake), Nidra(sleep), Svapna(dream) and TURĪYA (beyond all these — self realized state) and so on and so forth.
  • With all these meanings, when you look the above paragraph, I am sure you will look it at different angle!

Bhairavi resides in the Muladhara chakra and is the central fire in the Kundalini.
She is beyond triple. When one dives into Śri Vidyā, one notices that the main deity of Śri CHAKRA is the Paramēśwarī denoted as BINDU/POINT. It has no qualities or shapes or colors. When she is expressed, the first aspect that she expresses into is a triangle. Also, the mūlādhāra chakra is symbolized by a triangle. And a point is SAHASRĀRA. Thus, Bhairavī connects mūlādhāra to sahasrāra and culminates in sahasrāra. This connecting agent is actually called as Kundalini — meaning that which exists as coils — symbolized specially as 3 and a half coiled snake (these coils symbolize our evolution from mineral to plant to animal and human. Half coil, because we are not completely realized humans) I wish I can go further, but I will leave it to reader to go deeper into this aspects (I strongly refer the reader to Arthur Awalon’s works)
Apart from her fierce and destructive form, she is considered Goddess of wealth, perfection, power, food and sexual gratification.
She is the lord of all that we can perceive and all that we can not perceive. Just a point of caution: Sexual gratification, need not be seen in an negative sense. It is one of the primary important duties of a householder to procreate and enjoy. Excess indulgence and un-lawful indulgences are to be avoided, if one wants to be away from the bondages of KARMA, which are nothing but HER whip lashes.
The Mahanirvana Tantra dedicates a hymn to the same:
Alipiśitapurandhrī bhogapūjāparo’ham Bahuvidhakulamārgārambha-saṃ bhāvito’ham Paśujanavimukho’ham Bhairavīm aśrito’ham Gurucaranarato’ham Bhairavo’ham Śivo’ham
(I follow the worship wherein there is an enjoyment of wine, flesh, and wife as also other different forms of Kaula worship. In Bhairavi, I seek my refuge. To the feet of Guru, I am devoted. Bhairava am I. Śiva am I)
As per the Mahanirvana Tantra describes Bhairavi Chakra as a mode of worship for Kaulas (an ancient tradition in Shakti tradition) The Ananda Bhairavi is at the center of the mediation which is performed by worshippers.
Bhairavi Mool Mantra is :
ॐ ह्रीं भैरवी कलौं ह्रीं स्वाहा
(Om Hreem Bhairavi Kalum Hreem Svaha)

That is all! I thank the author of blue text, for granting the permission to utilize and develop on the text. I gave my best shot in giving an in-between line interpretation and some extra hints to my friend’s article. I hope, the BHAIRAVĪ in ALL bless us with HER grace.


    1. Thanks! I do not know, it kept flowing – the meanings and essence. You have selectively chosen specifically those aspects, which were very interesting!
      You planning to rewrite?… That will be more interesting and to be looked forward to! 😀 😀


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