Some more poetry about Shiva

Having a blog makes it really easy to procrastinate on midterms.

Kalabhairava is the most fearsome aspect of Shiva; the form in which Shiva is truly “the Destroyer”. In Sanskrit, kala means “black” and bhairava means “terrible, frightful”. I guess you could say Kalabhairava is equivalent to Kali: the fiercest form of the Goddess. Because of his fearsome qualities, Kalabhairava is worshiped as the protector of the city of Varanasi, as well as the grama-devata (village deity) in some villages in parts of South India.

The Kalabhairava ashtakam (eight-verse hymn) is said to have been written by the great Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara (788-820 AD). Even though it worships a frankly terrifying aspect of God, has a sentimental value for me. I remember watching this YouTube video when I was in fifth or sixth grade (yes, this is what I did back then… and now…), looking up the lyrics, and memorizing it. I think this is one of the first Hindu chants I memorized. I’d say there are less literary flourishes in this hymn than in the Shiva Tandava Stotram, but this is still a powerful work of devotional poetry:

देवराजसेव्यमानपावनांघ्रिपङ्कजं
व्यालयज्ञसूत्रमिन्दुशेखरं कृपाकरम्
नारदादियोगिवृन्दवन्दितं दिगंबरं
काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥१॥

Deva-Raaja-Sevyamaana-Paavan-Aangghri-Pankajam
Vyaala-Yajna-Sootram-Indu-Shekharam Krupaakaram
Naarad-Aadi-Yogi-Vrunda-Vanditam Digambaram
Kaashikaa-Pura-Aadhinaatha-Kaalabhairavam Bhaje

Whose lotus feet are served by Indra, the king of the devas,
Who has a snake as His yajnopavita (sacred thread), the crescent moon on His head, and who is extremely compassionate,
Who is praised by the sage Narada and other yogis, and who is digambara (“clothed by the sky”, meaning truly free),
Salutations to Sri Kalabhairava, who is the supreme lord of the city of Kashi (another name for Varanasi).

भानुकोटिभास्वरं भवाब्धितारकं परं
नीलकण्ठमीप्सितार्थदायकं त्रिलोचनम्
कालकालमंबुजाक्षमक्षशूलमक्षरं
काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥२॥

Bhaanu-Koti-Bhaasvaram Bhavaabdhi-Taarakam Param
Neela-Kantham-Eepsit-Aartha-Daayakam Trilochanam
Kaala-Kaalam-Ambuj-Aaksham-Aksha-Shoolam-Aksharam
Kaashikaa-Pura-Aadhinaatha-Kaalabhairavam Bhaje

Who has the brilliance of a million suns, who rescues us from the ocean of worldly existence and who is supreme,
Who has a blue throat, who bestows us with the worldly prosperity we wish for and who has three eyes,
Who is the death of death itself (meaning beyond death), who is lotus-eyed, whose trident supports the three worlds and who is imperishable,
Salutations to Sri Kalabhairava, who is the supreme lord of the city of Kashi.

शूलटङ्कपाशदण्डपाणिमादिकारणं
श्यामकायमादिदेवमक्षरं निरामयम्
भीमविक्रमं प्रभुं विचित्रताण्डवप्रियं
काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥३॥

Shoola-Tanga-Paasha-Danda-Paanim-Aadi-Kaaranam
Shyaama-Kaayam-Aadi-Devam-Aksharam Nir-Aamayam
Bheemavikramam Prabhum Vichitra-Taandava-Priyam
Kaashikaa-Pura-Aadhinaatha-Kaalabhairavam Bhaje

Who holds a trident, ax, noose, and club in His hands and who is the primordial cause of the universe,
Whose body is dark, who is the primordial lord, who is imperishable and beyond disease,
Who is the lord with terrific prowess and who loves the strange, vigorous tandava dance,
Salutations to Sri Kalabhairava, who is the supreme lord of the city of Kashi.

भुक्तिमुक्तिदायकं प्रशस्तचारुविग्रहं
भक्तवत्सलं स्थितं समस्तलोकविग्रहम्
विनिक्वणन्मनोज्ञहेमकिङ्किणीलसत्कटिं
काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥४॥

Bhukti-Mukti-Daayakam Prashasta-Chaaru-Vigraham
Bhakta-Vatsalam Sthitam Samasta-Loka-Vigraham
Vi-Nikvanan-Manojna-Hema-Kinkinee-Lasat-Katim
Kaashikaa-Pura-Aadhinaatha-Kaalabhairavam Bhaje

Who is the giver of worldly prosperity and liberation, and who has an auspicious, pleasing form,
Who is kind and loving to His devotees and who stands firm as the deity of all the lokas (worlds),
Who has shining golden bells tied around His waist, which jingle and produce a variety of pleasing sounds,
Salutations to Sri Kalabhairava, who is the supreme lord of the city of Kashi.

धर्मसेतुपालकं त्वधर्ममार्गनाशकं
कर्मपाशमोचकं सुशर्मदायकं विभुम्
स्वर्णवर्णशेषपाशशोभिताङ्गमण्डलं
काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥५॥

Dharma-Setu-Paalakam Tvadharma-Maarga-Naashakam
Karma-Paasha-Mochakam Su-Sharma-Daayakam Vibhum
Svarna-Varna-Shesha-Paasha-Shobhitaanga-Mandalam
Kaashikaa-Pura-Aadhinaatha-Kaalabhairavam Bhaje

Who guards the established institution of dharma and destroys the paths of adharma,
Who is the lord who frees us from the fetters of karma thereby giving us great joy,
Who is adorned with golden-colored serpents encircling His body,
Salutations to Sri Kalabhairava, who is the supreme lord of the city of Kashi.

रत्नपादुकाप्रभाभिरामपादयुग्मकं
नित्यमद्वितीयमिष्टदैवतं निरंजनम्
मृत्युदर्पनाशनं करालदंष्ट्रमोक्षणं
काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥६॥

Ratna-Paadukaa-Prabhaabhi-Raama-Paada-Yugmakam
Nityam-Adviteeyam-Ishta-Daivatam Niranjanam
Mrityu-Darpa-Naashanam Karaala-Damshtra-Mokshanam
Kaashikaa-Pura-Aadhinaatha-Kaalabhairavam Bhaje

Whose beautiful pair of feet shine with gem-studded sandals,
Who is the eternal, non-dual, ishta-devata (the devotee’s favorite form of God that they choose to worship), and who is stainless and pure,
Who destroys the pride of death (manifested as fear within us) and whose large terrible fangs liberate us (from the fear of death),
Salutations to Sri Kalabhairava, who is the supreme lord of the city of Kashi.

अट्टहासभिन्नपद्मजाण्डकोशसंततिं
दृष्टिपातनष्टपापजालमुग्रशासनम्
अष्टसिद्धिदायकं कपालमालिकाधरं
काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥७॥

Atta-Haasa-Bhinna-Padmaj-Aanda-Kosha-Santatim
Drishti-Paata-Nashta-Paapa-Jaalam-Ugra-Shaasanam
Ashta-Siddhi-Daayakam Kapaala-Maalikaa-Dharam
Kaashikaa-Pura-Aadhinaatha-Kaalabhairavam Bhaje

Whose loud terrific laughter shatters the continuity of the “sheath of creation” (meaing delusion of the mind) of the lotus-born Brahma (who is said to have emerged from a primeval egg),
Whose fearsome glance destroys the net of powerful and mighty sins in our mind,
Who bestows the eight siddhis (supernatural powers) and who wears a garland of skulls,
Salutations to Sri Kalabhairava, who is the supreme lord of the city of Kashi.

भूतसंघनायकं विशालकीर्तिदायकं
काशिवासलोकपुण्यपापशोधकं विभुम्
नीतिमार्गकोविदं पुरातनं जगत्पतिं
काशिकापुराधिनाथकालभैरवं भजे ॥८॥

Bhoota-Sangha-Naayakam Vishaala-Keerti-Daayakam
Kaashi-Vaasa-Loka-Punya-Paapa-Shodhakam Vibhum
Neeti-Maarga-Kovidam Puraatanam Jagatpatim
Kaashikaa-Pura-Aadhinaatha-Kaalabhairavam Bhaje

Who is the ruler of ghosts and goblins, and who bestows great glory to us (by revealing the glory of the Self),
Who is the lord who purges both the merits and sins of those who live in Kashi,
Who is skilled in guiding us on the path of righteousness, and who is the most ancient lord of the universe,
Salutations to Sri Kalabhairava, who is the supreme lord of the city of Kashi.

कालभैरवाष्टकं पठंति ये मनोहरं
ज्ञानमुक्तिसाधनं विचित्रपुण्यवर्धनम्
शोकमोहदैन्यलोभकोपतापनाशनं
ते प्रयान्ति कालभैरवांघ्रिसन्निधिं ध्रुवम् ॥९॥

Kaalabhairavaashtakam Patthanti Ye Manoharam
Jnaana-Mukti-Saadhanam Vichitra-Punya-Vardhanam
Shoka-Moha-Dainya-Lobha-Kopa-Taapa-Naashanam
Te Prayaanti Kaalabhairava-Aanghri-Sannidhim Dhruvam

Those who read these eight verses on Sri Kalabhairava with devotion,
Will be led straight to the goal of knowledge and liberation and will experience various auspicious qualities,
Destroying sorrows and afflictions, delusion and infatuation, wretchedness and depression, passions and anger, heat and burning,
After death the devotee will surely reach the feet of Sri Kalabhairava (meaning his grace).

(source)

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