Bhikshatana Form of Shiva

Bhikshatana is an aspect of Shiva and one of the 64 forms of Maheshwara Murtham. In this form, Shiva is depicted wandering from place to place for alms, mendicancy. Bhikshtana is represented as a nude four-armed ma, adorned with ornaments holding a begging bowl made of human skull in his hands. According to Hindu scriptures, Mahadeva assumed the form of Bhikshatana to get rid of his sin of severing the fifth head of Lord Brahma Deva. His sin got expiated upon reaching the holy city of Varanasi.


Bhikshatana is also regarded as a gentler form of Shiva's fierce aspect Bhairava. Though there are no temples dedicated to this form, numerous images of Bhikshatanamurthy can be seen sculpted in stone temple walls. This aspect of Mahadev is more popular in South India, especially Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu.

Some of the important temples where images of Bhikshatana can be seen in temple sculptures are Annamalaiyar Temple, Thiruvannamalai; Kailashanatha Temple, Kanchipuram; and Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple.

Bhikshatana Form of Shiva

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