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Lord Shiva who is all pervading, beneficent, merciful has been donning roles from time to time to elevate human beings from sufferings so as to bring the order of peace, tranquility among humanity. One such Avtaar or divine incarnation of Lord Shiva is that of Mangleshwar Bhairava. The legend of Mangleshwar Bhairava is rooted in delivering justice to Humanity.
On their sojourn to valley both Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati enters into a spiritual dialogue. The dialogue is important as Devi asks a question and Lord Shiva replies. The reason of asking a question by Devi is to extract succor and good of mankind from Lord Shiva.
This query of Devi is to enquire about the holy Shrines of Kashmir and its importance for humanity which when visited by believer’s usher them into divine grace and bliss. On great persuasion by Devi, Lord Shiva reveals important Tirthas or Shrines in Kashmir. This dialogue between the two are detailed in an important manuscript known as Bringesh Samhita. During this dialogue Devi asks Lord Shiva to explain her the importance of Mangleshwar Bhairava shrine which is situated deep within river at an isolated island with beautiful surroundings of lotus flowers. Devi who had visited the Shrine of Mangleshwar Bhairava was awe struck with its enchanting environs and hence wanted to know the significance of this shrine from her consort Lord Shiva.
The earnest query of Devi is being answered by Lord Shiva by revealing the secret of Mangleshwar Bhairva Tirtha. Lord reveals that Rishi Kashyap who drained water from Kashmir valley had a notorious son named Namchi, who was very powerful but was wicked, deceitful and cunning.
Namchi inflicted cruelty among the resident’s and by his tyrannical methods brought miseries to the people, he even threatened various deities, who then pleaded to Indra to get valley rid of infamous Namchi. Having resolved to come to the rescue of people, Indra engaged Namchi in a battle. However, for several days Namchi could not be killed by Indra as he would hide himself into a tunnel called Namchadeli (present day Namchibal in Srinagar) which was used as a safe hide by Namchi for his protection.
Having failed in his resolve to get rid of notorious Namchi during several occasions, Indra was exasperated and disappointed. It was then Indra prayed to Lord Shiva who was pleased with austere penance of Indra appeared as Mangleshwar Bhairava (the bestower of goodness). At this very spot where Indra had prayed, is the present day shrine.
Having obtained boon from Lord Shiva of vanquishing Namchi, and requisite information from Lord to kill this demon, Indra challenged the demon and subsequently launched a fresh attack in the battle to slay the demon Namchi. A fierce battle ensued between both where the final assault of Indra got Namchi killed so much so to the respite of residents. Subsequent to the victory, Indra went to the same place where Lord Shiva had revealed Himself as Mangleshwar Bhairava to offer his gratitude to the Lord with whose boon Indra was victorious.
However, Indra could not find Lord Shiva despite his search but to the astonishment of Indra a wish fulfilling tree stood rooted at the same place where Lord granted the boon. Indra immediately took this tree as an Avtaar of Lord Shiva which was duly anointed and worshipped by Indra and residents as Mangleshwar Bhairava.
Since appearance of Lord Shiva as Mangleshwar happened on Panchmi of Vaisakha month therefore, residents around this Tirtha since time immemorial worship Mangleshwar Bhairava as the day of Lords incarnation.
The residents congregate at this island on this day and offer special prayers by conducting Havan besides offering of flowers. Turmeric rice is partaken as a prasad after offering it to Lord and vermillion paste is marked on the tree. It is noteworthy to mention that shrine has withstood fury of time and floods as it is amidst waters on island.
Mangleshwar Bhairava is also counted among the eight guardian Bhairavas of Srinagar city and nearby residents took pride in the spiritual heritage of this shrine as they believe in protecting powers of Lord over them.
The residents consider Lord Mangleshwar as Protector of Virtuous and Destroyer of Evil. Since ages people from all walks of life visited the shrine before embarking on any good venture as blessings of Lord enabled them with protective shield and success.
Thus, was the secret of the Shrine disclosed by Lord Shiva to Devi. Therefore, let Lord Shiva as Mangleswar Bhairava bring peace, prosperity and purpose in our lives.
What Bhairav symbolises
The Ultimate Form of ‘I’ Consciousness
The Trikha philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism is the theology of universal consciousness, a non-dualistic concept similar to Chit, Brahmn, in Vedanta. Trikha means three – the realities are Shiva, Shakti and the universe of macrocosm and microcosm (individualised soul).
All things are manifestations of ultimate consciousness out of which has evolved the universe. The phenomenal world is consciousness reflected in myriad unique beautiful forms and manifestation of Shakti, reciprocally created by adapted subject and object seen as ‘I’ and ‘This’.
Paramashiva is the supreme, non-evolving, undifferentiated and unmanifest Absolute. The manifest absolute is Shiva, I Am. Shakti, the energy. Both the unmanifest and manifest Absolute are His creative powers and therefore inseparable.
All souls are one with Paramashiva, Absolute Consciousness, forgotten due to ignorance. But, through knowledge, one can recognise one’s divine nature and become liberated.
The spiritual soul is entangled in mind, illusion, limited power, knowledge and desire within time and space. The mental soul, purusha, subject prakriti, object; intellect, mind and ego; the five sense perceptions – hearing, feeling, seeing, tasting, smelling; the four action elements – speaking, handling, moving, elimination; six subtle elements of perception – taste, smell, form, touch, sound, reproduction; and five gross elements – ether, air, fire, water and earth constitute the Tattvas. The universe is proliferation of Shakti at every plane, a divine macrocosm, which is constantly evolving.
The dynamic nature of consciousness describes spanda, spontaneous vibration of universal consciousness as an expression of freedom and power. The Absolute is metaphorical as light and reflective awareness.
Divine play is the result of natural impulse of consciousness to express the totality of its Self-knowledge in action, an impulse arising out of love.
Shiva and Shakti as the cosmic dual principle are the natural process of integration and transformation.
Shivaratri symbolises union of Shiva with Shakti, the marriage of two highest cosmic vibrations. The concept is awakening of consciousness at the material level of existence and uniting with Shakti at a higher point in evolution. The word ratri, means dark night. When the individual experiences existence, objective reality all around, is the day of consciousness when consciousness is all alone and no objective experience takes place. All senses, time, space and objectivity become still, consciousness alone remains. That is the dark night of the soul, the stage just before illumination. So Shivaratri is a symbol of the spiritual state of Samadhi.
In tantric texts, Bhairava and Bhairavi are invoked through Tantric worship. According to legend, the linga appeared at dusk as a blazing column of fire and dazzled Vatuka Bhairava and Rama Bhairava. Mahadevi’s mind-born sons, who approached it to discover its beginning or end, failed. Exasperated and terrified, they began to sing its praises and went to Mahadevi, who merged herself with the awe-inspiring jwala-linga. She blessed both Vatuka and Ramana that they would be worshipped by humans. Bhairava is the ultimate manifestation, pure ‘I’ consciousness.