The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1950 | 616,585 words

This page relates “sports of bhairava” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 9 - The sports of Bhairava

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nandīśvara said:—

1. O omniscient Sanatkumāra, listen lovingly to another story of Bhairava that destroys all defects and enhances devotion.

2. Due to Brahmahatyā’s presence Bhairava began to calculate the time for release. At the words of the lord of gods, he kept on the rite of Kāpālika.

3. He, the soul of the universe, roamed over the three worlds with the skull in his hand. The terrible Brahmahatyā never left Bhairava.

4. Although he went to every holy centre, he was not left off by Brahmahatyā. Let the greatness of Śiva, the enemy of Kāma, be understood thereby.

5. Once, while sporting about, being attended upon by Pramathas, Bhairava went as he pleased, to the abode of Viṣṇu.

6-7. On seeing the three-eyed Bhairava of full size, born partially of lord Śiva, with serpents for his ear-rings the Garuḍa-bannered Viṣṇu fell prostrate on the ground like a staff. The gods, the sages and the womenfolk of the gods too did the same.

8. After bowing to him, pure in mind, and keeping the joined palms on his head, Viṣṇu, the consort of Lakṣmī, eulogised him with various hymns.

9. The delighted Viṣṇu being highly pleased in his mind, O great sage, joyously spoke to Lakṣmī, born at the time of the churning of the milky ocean[1] and residing in the lotus.

Viṣṇu said:—

10. “O lotus-eyed beloved, you are blessed, O comely sinless lady. O gentle lady of beautiful hips, I am blessed, since we both see the lord of the universe.

11. He is the creator, the maintainer and the lord of the worlds. He is the primordial being, the lord and the refuge of all. He is calm and higher than the twenty-six principles.[2]

12. He is omniscient, the lord of all Yogins, the sole leader of all Beings, the inner Ātman of all living creatures and the bestower of everything to everyone always.

13. O Lakṣmī, see, he is that lord whom the quiet wakeful people, engrossed in breathless meditation, see in their heart of hearts through their mind.

14. Here he comes, the all-pervasive who is without form but has assumed a form (now) and whom only the Yogins of restrained mind, the knowers of the principles of the Vedas, understand.

15. Oh, wonderful indeed is the activity of the lord Śiva, for he who repeats his names is freed from the bondage of the body that he has taken then.

16. On seeing him men do not obtain a rebirth in the world. Such a lord the moon-crested Tryambaka comes here.

17. O Lakṣmī, blessed indeed are my eyes as wide as the petals of a lotus, since by them the great god lord Śiva is seen.

18. Fie upon the position of the gods where emancipation is not obtained, but on seeing Śiva it is obtained and it puts an end to all miseries.

19. There is nothing more inauspicious than the state of the gods in the heaven that here even after seeing the lord of the gods all of us do not obtain salvation.

Nandīśvara said:—

20. After saying this, Viṣṇu bowed to the great lord with the thrill of delight through pleasure and spoke this to the bull-bannered deity?

Viṣṇu said:—

21. O lord, O unchanging one, O queller of all sins, what is this being done by you the omniscient lord of the gods and the creator of the worlds?

22. O lord of the gods, O three-eyed intelligent one this is only your sport. O Virūpākṣa, O suppresser of Kāma, what is this activity of yours motivated by?

23. O lord Śiva, O lord of Śakti, why do you go a-begging? O lord of the universe, this is my doubt, O bestower of the kingdom of the three worlds!

Nandīśvara said:—

24. Thus addressed by Viṣṇu, lord Śiva, the destroyer of the worlds of ferocious form of wonderful sports, laughingly said to Viṣṇu.

Bhairava said:—

25. Brahma's head was cut off with the top of the nail of my fingers. It is to remove that sin that I am observing this auspicious sacred rite.

Nanīśvara said:—

26. Thus addressed by Śiva, Bhairava, the lord of Lakṣmī remembered something aod bent down his head. He spoke again.

Viṣṇu said:—

27. “O great god, O remover of all obstacles, sport about as you please. But it dors not behove you to envelop me with your Māyā.

28. O lord, it is true that from within the lotus from my navel, crores of lotus-seated Brahmās have come out in the different Kalpas through the power of Yoga.

29. O lord, please eschew this Māyā very difficult to be crossed by those who have no control over themselves. Brahmā and others are deluded by your Māyā.

30. O Śiva, O lord of all, O goal of the good, O lord of Śivā, it is due to your own blessing that I am able to follow your activity.

31-32. When the time of dissolution comes, O destroyer of the world, you annihilate all the gods, sages and people of all castes and stages of life. O great god, then, the sin of slaying brahmins and others does not affect you. You are not bound by these and are quite independent. You sport as you please.

33. O Śiva, the garland of the bones of Brahmā shines around your neck. Similarly, O Śiva, O sinless one, the primordial Brahmahatyā has followed you.

34. Even after committing a great sin, if a person, remembers you who are the lord and support of the worlds, his sin is quelled.

35. Just as darkness does not stand in the presence of the sun, similarly the sin of your devotee does not stand but is wasted away.

36. If a pious soul contemplates on the lotus-like pair of your feet, even his sin of brahmin-slaughter becomes wasted away.

37. O lord of the universe, if a person is devoted to uttering your name, his sin as weighty as the peak of a mountain does not overwhelm him.

38. O great soul, O ultimate abode, O god that assumest a body at your own sweet will, this is only a fancy of yours, this miserliness anḍ dependence.

39. O lord of gods, I am blessed. I am seeing the eternal supreme god of cosmic form whom even Yogins do not see.

40. I have the greatest of gains today. I have the most auspicious of signs today. Even heaven and emancipation are as insignificant as a blade of grass to me who am contented with the nectar of seeing him.”

41. When Govinda was saying this, Padmā offered the desired alms into his begging bowl.

42. Lord Śiva, who had assumed the body of Lord Bhairava, left the place joyously for begging elsewhere.

43. On seeing Brahmahatyā following him, Viṣṇu called her and requested her “Please stop pursuing the Trident-bearing deity.”

Brahmahatyā said:—

44. Under this pretext, I am waiting upon the bull-bannered deity. Thus I shall sanctify myself for the annihilation of a rebirth.

Nandīśvara said:—

45. Though urged by Viṣṇu she did not leave his side. The smiling Śiva of Bhairava form, spoke these words to Viṣṇu.

Bkairava said:—

46. O lord of Lakṣmī, O bestower of honour, I am satisfied by drinking the nectar of your words. Whatever you say is natural to good-natured persons.

47. O Viṣṇu, choose your boon, O sinless one, I am the granter of boons. O Viṣṇu, you are free from aberrations and are the foremost among my devotees.

48. Mendicants suffering from the fever of begging alms do not turn mad with the good articles of alms so much as by the drinking in of the nectar of honour.

Nandīśvara said:—

49. On hearing the words of high-souled Bhairava, Viṣṇu became delighted and spoke to him.

Viṣṇu said:—

50. O lord of gods, this itself is a great favour that I see you who being the lord of the gods are inconceivable by mind and speech.

51. O Śiva, this is like a shower of nectar without clouds. I am jubilant over this; thy benign glance to the good is a treasure easily acquired by them.

52. O lord Śiva, let me never be detached from your feet; this is the favour I seek, nothing else.

Lord Bhairava said:—

53. “O dear, O intelligent one, let what you have said occur. You will be the granter of boons to all the gods.”

Nandīśvara said:—

54. Blessing Viṣṇu moving in the central mountain Meru[3] and the world, the lord went to the city of the liberated, Vārāṇasī.

55. As soon as Bhairava of terrible features entered the holy centre, Brahmahatyā felt aggrieved and entered the nether worlds.

56. The skull of Brahmā fell on the ground suddenly from the lotus-like hand of Bhairava. The holy centre then became Kapālamocana.

57. On seeing the skull of Brahmā falling from his hand, even as everyone was watching it, Rudra danced with great joy.

58. The unbearable skull of Brahmā did not leave his hand as he was roaming elsewhere but it fell down in a trice at Kāśī.

59. Brahmahatyā which did not leave Siva at any other place vanished in a moment at Kāśī. Hence Kāśī shall be resorted to for shedding off evil.

60. If a person remembers the excellent holy centre Kapālamocana at Kāśī, his sin committed here and elsewhere becomes quelled immediately.

61. After coming to the foremost of holy centres, performing the ablution in accordance with the rules and by making the water-offering to the manes one is rid of Brahmahatyā.

62. Bhairava stood facing the holy centre of Kapālamocana, devouring the series of sins of devotees.

63. It was on the eighth day in the dark half of the month of Mārgaśīrṣa that lord Śiva, the favourite of the good and indulging in auspicious sports, manifested himself in the form of Bhairava.

64. The person who observes fast on the eighth day of the dark half of the month of Mārgaśīrṣa in front of Kālabhairava and also keeps awake at night is freed from great sins.

65. He who performs that rite with devotion even elsewhere and also keeps awake is rid of great sins and attains the goal of the good.

66. The sin committed by persons in the course of countless millions of births is quelled entirely on seeing Kālabhairava.

67. He who commits offence against the devotees of Kālabhairava is deluded and becomes miserable. He will attain the distress of the wicked people.

68. The devotees of lord Śiva, who do not show devotion for Kālabhairava, attain great sorrow and especially so at Kāśī.

69. The man who, while staying at Vārāṇasī, neglects the worship of Bhairava acquires sins that multiply like the moon in the bright half.

70. If a person neglects the worship of Kālarāja at Kāśī on every Tuesday and Bhūtāṣṭamī day, his merit decreases like the moon in the dark half.

71. A person is rid of all sins on hearing this narrative of “Bhairava’s nativity” which can quell even Brahmahatyā.

72. Even a person put in a prison, or involved in adversity is freed from distress on hearing of the narrative of Bhairava.

Footnotes and references:


See P. 224 note.


Read “paraḥ ṣaḍviṃśasīmataḥ” for “ṣaḍviṃśasaṃsitaḥ”. Siva is conceived as the twenty-seventh principle, higher than the group of 26 tattvas comprising in 10 senses, 5 gross elements, 5 subtle elements, mind, intellect, ego, invisible cosmic nature, individual soul and the transcendent Puruṣa Īśvara. See Liṅgapurāṇa 1.71. 51: “yaḥ saptaviṃśako nityaḥ parātparataraḥ”.


The mount Meru, situated in the centre of the earth, is the common resort of Viṣṇu, Indra and other gods.

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