Bhairava (frightful or terrible) is a fearsome manifestation of SHIVA, whose icon has long fangs. He is sometimes also called Kalabhairava or Kalaraja, Lord of Time (as KALI is seen to be the Mistress of Time), and is seen to control time and the world.
   Bhairava’s frightful nature emerged when Lord BRAHMA spoke to him arrogantly, and he severed Brahma’s fifth upward-looking head with his fin-gernail. Because he had thus killed a BRAHMIN, the skull could not be removed from his hand, where it remained, until he was released from the curse that befalls one who kills a Brahmin.
   Bhairava of the very dark complexion was forced to travel the Earth begging alms with the skull as begging bowl. It was he who wandered through the three worlds to arrive at the Deodar Forest where sages (RISHIS) dwelt with their wives. The sages did not recognize Shiva in this naked, fierce beggar, but he was irresistibly attractive to their wives. In a final act of defiance against the confounded rishis, Bhairava brandished his erect penis before the wives to their delight and passion (as he was the ruler of the universe). The rishis put a curse on him to lose his penis, which flew around the worlds like a missile, destroying every-thing in its path. Finally, they had to call upon the Great Goddess to offer her YONI or vagina to hold it in place and pacify it. This is the origin of the Shiva LINGAM, which is always depicted as a phal-lus held in an encircling yoni.Further reading: Don Handelman and David Shulman, Shiva in the Forest of Pines: An Essay on Sorcery and Self-Knowledge (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004); Stella Kramrisch, The Presence of Shiva (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981); Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty, Shiva the Erotic Ascetic (Oxford: Oxford Uni-versity Press, 1981).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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