Kaal Bhairav is one of the most ferocious manifestations of Lord Shiva. Once Lord Brahma grew arrogant and egoistic. During those times he had five heads one on top of the four heads. Lord Shiva wanted to teach him a lesson and make him more committed and responsible to his task. Therefore he created Kaal Bhairav from his nail and thus Kaal Bhairav manifested as an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Kaal Bhairav is also called Bhatuk Bhairav.
Kaal Bhairav moved towards Brahma and severed his top head with his nail. The skull of Braham also called as Brahma Kapala got stuck to his hand and this is depicted in the iconographic image of Lord Kaal Bhairav found in all temples. Kaal Bhairav’s vehicle or vahan is a black dog. Kaal Bhairave appears naked like a child and wanders like a mendicant. He is so easily pleased and blesses his devotees with wealth, health and prosperity.
Kala Bhairava is an incarnation of Lord Shiva and the Devata of the Lord Rahu (Navagraha Planet). Kala Bhairava is also regarded as the guardian of Lord Shiva temples. Kala Bhairava is the Rudra Avatar of Shiva who is the omnipresent time or Kala. Kala or time is the fearsome face of Shiva as time stops for none.
Each and every living being is afraid of time as it spares none. Hence Kala is feared by one and all. The Kala Bhairava Ashtakam was composed by the great philosopher saint of the 8th century, Adi Shankara. The Kala Bhairava Ashtakam is recited to make your journey through time or life free from troubles and dangers.
Lord Kalabairava is the form of Shiva and he is made responsible for control of time i.e, the growth and management of time. (Kala means time). Lord Shiva has manifested Himself as Adi Moola Kaala Bhairava with many Bhairava avatars. From Adi Moola Kaala Bhairava Ashta (eight) Bairavas manifested and they are:
1. Kala Bhairava, 2. Asitanga Bhairava, 3. Samhara Bhairava, 4. Ruru Bhairava, 5. Krodha Bhairava, 6. Kapala Bhairava, 7. Rudra Bhirava and 8. Unmatta Bhairava.
The Lord Kalabairava wears the tiger skin and human bones and also wears the twisted serpents as his ornaments i.e, earrings, bracelets, anklets, and sacred thread. The celestial vehicle of Lord Bairava is the dog. The number 13 is auspicious for the Lord. The Ashtami (eighth lunar day) thithi of each paksham (moon / lunar phase fortnight), particularly in the waning phase (that is, Krishna Paksha Ashtami), is important for Kalabairava worship. Kala Bhairava Ashtami, which occurs in December/January is an important day for worshipping the Lord. The Siddha secret that the Kuligai time of each day is ideal for worshipping Kala Bhairava.
In Saivite legends and puranas Lord Kalabairava is considered as the Kshetrapalaka or guardian of temples of Lord Shiva
I sing praise of Kala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kashi, Who is adorned by lotus-feet which is reverred and served by Indra (Devaraj), Who has a Yagya-thread made up of snake, Who has the moon on His forehead, Who is the abode of mercy, Who has been sung by Narad and other celestial singers, and Whose clothes are the directions. ||1||
I sing praise of Kala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kashi, Who is resplendent like millions of sun, Who absolves the ocean of cycle of rebirth, Who is supreme, Who has a blue neck, Who bestows us with our desires, Who has three-eyes, Who is the end of Kaal, Who has lotus-like eyes, Who has immortal monodent weapon, and Who is immortal. ||2||
I sing praise of Kala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kashi, Who has monodent, spade, a cord and punishment in His hands, Who is the cause behind the beginning, Who has a grey (smeared) body, Who is the first Deva, Who is imperishable, Who is free from illness and health, Who is immensely mighty, Who is the Lord, and Who loves the special Tandava dance. ||3||
I sing praise of Kala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kashi, Who is the bestower of desires and salvation, Who has an enticing appearance form, Who is endears His devotees, Who is static, Who takes various manifestations and forms the world, and Who has a beautiful golden waist-thread with small melodious bells. ||4||
I sing praise of Kala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kashi, Who is the maintainer of righteousness, Who is the destroyer of unrighteous paths, Who liberates us from the ties of Karma or deeds, Who bestows us with shyness, Who is splendid, and Whose organ-groups are decorated with a beautiful cord of golden color. ||5||
I sing praise of Kala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kashi, Who has feet adorned by two sandals made of gold which is possessing a resplendent shine, Who is eternal, Who is induplicable, Who bestows our desires to us, Who is without desires, Who destroys the pride of death (as in is supreme to death), and Who liberates soul by His teeth. ||6||
I sing praise of Kala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kashi, Whose loud roar is enough to destroy all the manifestations created by the lotus-born Brahma, Whose (merciful) glance is enough to destroy all the sins, Who is the powerful ruler, Who gives the eight-powers¹, and Who wears a garland of skull-caps. ||7||
I sing praise of Kala Bhairava, Who is the ruler of the city Kashi, Who is the leader of the ghosts and spirits, Who showers immense glory, Who absolves people dwelling in Kashi from their sins and righteous deeds, Who is splendor, Who has explained the path of righteousness, Who is eternally old, and Who is the controller of the universe. ||8||
Kala Bhirava Ashtakam - Kalabhirava Stotrani - J.Bhakatavatsalam (Full Verson)