RARE RAGA SERIES : RAGAM BHAIRAVAM – JANYA OF MELA (17) SURYAKANTHAM

Suryakantham, the mela (17) ragam is not a popular mela; few compositions are available, which are not much heard in concerts. As much this raga is not popular, so is its janya ‘Bhairavam’. The other janyas of this raga are still non-popular and not worth discussing (except Supradeepam raga, known for an Eka-raga krithi by Thyagaraja)). There are a few compositions in ragam Bhairavam; it is not that much a very pleasing ragam, which is Nishada-varja in avarohanam of Suryakantham; the notes:

S R1 G3 M1 P D2 N3 S // S D2 P M1 G3 R1 S

Subbarama Dikshithar in SSP places it under mela (16) chakravakam, gives the lakshana as:

SRGMPDNS // SDPMMPMGRS

(The prayogas SNDMGRS and SDMPMGRS are also seen)

Ragapravaham also supports the same specification as given in the SSP.

There are no much references found about this rare raga. The popular compositions are:

Bhairavam Bhavaye - Jayachamaraja Wodeyar

Mariyada gadayya - Thyagaraja

Kaalabhairavam bhajeham - Dikshithar

Nannu brova rada (Rama) - Patnam subramanya Iyer

We shall discuss the Muthuswami Dikshithar krithi, “Kalabhairavam bhajeham”, in this raga. Pallavi

kAlabhairavam bhajEham anisham kAshIpura vAsam bhUtEsham

anupallavi

shUla cakra pAsha daNDa hastam shOka mOha vAraNa prashastam

caraNam nAradAdinuta shyAmagAtram nAga yajna sUtram vicitram krUratara pApadaNDanacaturam guruguha priyakaram digambaram vArijAsanAsya krndanam vAnchitArtha phaladAna cintanam dhIrataram vidhi kapAla dharaNam dEvarAja sEvitAbja caraNam

The Raga mudra appears in the beginning itself as Kala‘Bhairavam’. The composition is on Kalabhairav at the temple of Kashi. Lord Bhairava is also known as ‘Kotwal’ or ‘Kshetpalaka’, the guardian of the temple. The keys to Shiva and Shakti temples are ceremonially submitted to Bhairava at closing time and received from him at the opening time in the morning. There is generally a shrine dedicated to him in the temple premise itself. He is also a guardian of the travellers and blesses those who visit on pilgrimage. The Siddhas state that before embarking on a journey, especially while travelling at night, one must light diyas (lamps) and garland Lord Bhairava with cashew nut wreaths. This assures protection and safety. For those abroad away from the blessed shores, the worship is equally important. Despite being one of the most feared deities, he is essentially one of the most rewarding and protective gods. In tantric practices he is sacred as Batuk Bharav. Being a rudra, the Lord is said to be very knowledgeable in tantra-mantra. Kala Bhairava is also famous for his dog vahana or vehicle. The dog is usually seated on one side, ready to taste the dripping blood from the executed Brahma head. Looking after and feeding dogs is thus considered to be another way of displaying devotion. Bhairava can bestow incredible blessings and the boon of auspicious time to devotees. According to myths, if one feeds hungry dogs with ‘halwa puri’ (sweet bread), then automatically all problems can be overcome.

Kala Bhairava is a fierce manifestation of Lord Siva and is highly revered across the Indian subcontinent. He is depicted in an aggressive form with angry eyes shaped like lotus blossoms, blazing hair, tiger’s teeth, snake coiled around his neck or crown, and an eerie garland of human skulls. Often terrifying, Kala Bhairava carries a trident, a drum and the severed fifth head of Brahma. The deity is blue throated from swallowing poison to save the world. Hence, he is considered to be the vanquisher of death. His third eye represents eternal supreme wisdom. There are many interesting legends surrounding Kala Bhairava, one of the eight avatars of Lord Siva. The origin of the mighty god is attributed to a tale in the Shiv Mahapurana, wherein Lord Brahma commands Lord Vishnu to worship him, as he is the creator of the universe. This angers Lord Siva, who is incarnated as Kala Bhairava to punish him and beheads one of Brahma’s five heads. Since then Brahma has four heads while Bhairava carries the fifth. But chopping off Brahma’s head amounted to the killing of a Brahman. Consequently, Bhairava had to carry the gory head with him for 12 years. He wandered like a vagabond, till he was liberated of the sin. Usually the idol of Bhairava depicts him in this frightful form.

Worshipped by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists alike, daily prayer offerings to Bhairava helps in achieving success, defeating enemies and attaining all materialistic comforts. He helps devotees fruitfully utilize their time in securing their goals. This is the reason why he is known as the Lord of Time. Wasting time in trivial pursuits can be diverted towards a constructive purpose, if one offers prayers and chants the name of Bhairava. He purifies souls with his sheer power and makes odds favorable for believers. Almost miraculously, one is at the right place at the right time for the best of opportunities. People have always been worshipping Kala Bhairava from the days of yore. But according to the sacred texts the 60 years from the Chitrabhanu Year i.e. April 2002 to the next Chitrabhanu Year i.e. April 2062, is the most important time. The Ashtami after Poornima (the eighth day after full moon) is said to be the most ideal day for puja rituals. Kala Bhairava has 8 manifestations, namely Asithaanga Bhairava, Ruru Bhairava, Chanda Bhairava, Krodha Bhairava, Unmattha Bhairava, Kapaala Bhairava, Bheeshana Bhairava and Samhaara Bhairava. He also guards the 52 Shaktipeethas and hence there are said to be 52 forms of Bhairava across the sacred spots. Protecting Shakti is significant for everlasting peace amidst the scenarios of wrath, violence and animosity. Prayers to Lord Kala Bhairava as well as Sarabeswara and Amruta Mrityunjaya are necessary for this safeguarding. Thus, this fearful manifestation of Lord Shiva is believed to be one of the most protective powers blessing for humanity.


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