Story of Bhairav Avatar Bhairava

Shiva Purana deals with the story of Bhairav Avatar or Bhairava. Lord Mahavishnu, the protector of the world and Lord Brahma, the creator of the world, started   a heated word exchange. Each one claimed that he was the Lord of the universe. While their word-war was going on, there appeared in between them, a pillar of fire (in some texts it says a white and fat phallus). Also they heard a heavenly voice “You need not quarrel about lordship. One who finds out the end or beginning of this fire will be the Lord”. Brahma took it as a trick played by Shiva and he scolded Mahadev.


Lord Shiva became angry and he created Bhairav to wreak vengeance to Brahma. Bhairava, the Ugramurti (fierce figure) proceeded towards Brahma as instructed by Siva. Brahma was Panchamukha (one who has five heads) up to that time. Bhairava plucked the fifth head of Brahma with his left hand. As a result of this Brahma became Chaturmukha (one who has four heads). What Bhairava did was the great sin of Brahmahatya (killing of Brahma). Therefore, he wanted to do Prayaschitta (remedial deed) for the same. He rushed to Mahadeva to seek his advice in this regard.

Story of Bhairav Avatar Bhairava

Shiva advised Bhairava to go for begging with the bowl of the skull of Brahma’s head and to take dip in the sacred Thirthas. Siva created with his godly power the woman Bhairavi also to accompany Bhairava while doing the Prayaschitta. Bhairava went for begging along with Bhairavi and then took dip in different sacred Thirthas. But he could not get rid of the Brahmahatya sin he committed. Therefore, he went back to Siva and prayed to him to suggest a solution to the danger he had crept in. Shivashankar advised him to go to Varanasi (Benares) and take dip in Ganga for getting rid of his sin. Bhairava then proceeded to Varanasi along with Bhairavi and had full dip in Ganga. The Kapala (skull) of Brahma which was his begging bowl also flowed away in Ganga. It is believed that the entire sin of Brahmahatya he committed also flowed away along with the Kapala of Brahma. The particular place where Bhairava took the dip with the Kapala came to be known as Kapalamochana Thirtha.

Bhairava then went to fight with the gods of heaven and defeated Indra. This was not with the permission of Shiva. Indra approached Parameshwara and complained. Siva cursed Bhairava to become a tree and he became so. The tree was named Damanaka in the sense that it put an end to the pride of the gods. Bhairava later apologized and begged Siva for pardon. Siva made provision that all those who worship the gods should worship Bhairava also. Thus Bhairava also came to be worshipped by people.

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