Bhairava is the fearsome deity in Saivism who worships Siva as the principal God. This form of Siva is personified with the qualities of anger and a quivering voice as a bhayanaka attahasa denoting the bhaya in Sanskrit. Bhaya is a frightening utterance, which is extended with suffix of rava to form the resonance that swells from that atmosphere. The author says that this acoustic timber is essential for the feeling of timidity ?that is the response to its thunderous disquiet, an experience that results from the repulsive utterances appearing in the firmament that gave rise to trepidation in the early Vedic thinkers.?
In an iconographic art form, the image represents an irate and infuriated state of mind. Over time, this iconic image came to represent the contemptible deity of anger which is epitomised by ferocious icons of a hideous deity radiating from the cremation grounds of Hindu iconography.
Bhairava represents a human psychic state that responds appropriately to the fearful iconic spirit. He is frequently personified in his iconic image as a furious and plucky dwarf with a stalwart and manly disposition. This symbolic image, both of a brawny God along with Ganesa, the icon of auspicious beginnings in the Hindu spiritual psychology, is installed at main entrances. Bhairava became to early agro-traders a stalwart custodian.
The cult of Bhairava validates the socio-cultural transfusion of the ethno-cultural motifs of high-hill and low-land inhabitants. Since the medieval age, the permutations of the Newara homeland enriched this socio-cultural incursion. A distorted concoction of caste, creed and profession in the realms of Hinduism and Buddhism ensured a uniform pliability in different walks of life. This merger was harmonious with the socio-economic and religious behaviour of the Nepal mandala.
The genesis of the Bhairava cult in Nepal has its roots in these past changes. The Doyas or Duiu people formed a new wave that descended with Nanyadeva to settle here as permanent citizens. They intermingled with the aborigines, adding their attributes that enabled them to become guardians of the valley. Their presence contributed to the cult image of Bhalu-asir or Sawa-bhakku. The Halchowk Bhairava tradition in Nepal mandala relates to these changes.
The mythological cultural origins of Bhairava expose the hostility of social discrimination between the early Saivism and Vedic sects. Thus the original Vedic form of Rudra was progressively replaced by a non-Vedic form of a ferocious Bhairava with the chopped head of Brahma, the quintessence of a Vedic creator. In his arms this image thus accorded Bhairava the mythological status of the principal God of creation of Prajapati Brahma. Bhairava obtained this title because of his subduing of the Vedic God of creation. This image of Bhairava in the Tantric mode of religion was adopted as the defender of the realm of the Newara nation.
This is a book meant essentially for followers of various Tantric cults.
(Rupa & Co., 7/16 Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-11000.)