Himalayan Heritage Foundation

Center for policy research on Himalayan Region

Swacchand Bhairava,Shiv Tattva & Shivratri

Shivratri also known as praksh ratri the night of Divine light coincides with emergence of Shiv Tattvas on physical plane.

Written by: Sunil Raina Rajanak || Posted in category: Tantra || Dated: 2017-02-24

Swacchand Bhairava

Shivratri is the King of festivals among Kashmiri Hindus as it is associated with their beloved and most adored Lord Shiva who holds unparalled influence and adoration throught the Himalayan range. The festival is celebrated with fervor, devotion complete with exuberance and with local traditions. The festival is also referred as Har Ratri or Hearth in local parlance.

Shivratri also known as praksh ratri the night of Divine light coincides with emergence of Shiv Tattvas on physical plane. Lord Shiva since the time of human creation was in search of Para Shakti. In his deep meditation Lord Shiva found out that Goddess Parvati is meditating in deep forest along with yoginis. Therefore, Lord appeared in front of her in the form of five headed, eighteen armed Swacchand Bhairava. Seeing this frightful form of Lord, the yoginis were scared and they tried to run away. Goddess Parvati on seeing this situation glanced on the pitcher from where emerged Vatuk Bhairava who was yielding a spear, a pitcher, a rosary, a snake, a damru along with lower two hands in boon granting and protection mudra. However, with all his efforts Vatuka Bhairava was unable to ward off Swacchand Bhairava. Therefore, Goddess Parvati casted a glance on another pitcher from where emerged pleasing looking Rama Bhairava. When these ganas happened to strike Swacchand Bhairava, the Lord disappeared and these ganas returned back to Goddess who granted them that they shall be worshipped by humans. Subsequently, Swacchand Bhairava appeared in the form of column of fire also known as Jawala linga and both Vatuka and Rama went in search of him. Vatuka went upwards whereas Rama went downwards. After sometime exhausted both of them returned back and prayed. Lord to reveal Thyself.

Unable to fathom the greatness of Jawala linga the attending yoginis and the defending Bhairavas merged with Goddess Parvati and who in turn merged herself with Jawala linga. Since this event took place on thirteenth of dark half of month of Phalguna known as Triyodashi hence it was celebrated in that day whereas others celebrated the festival on Chaturdashi when linga was pacified.

Swacchand Bhairava is the esoteric form of Shiva who along with his spouse Agoreshwari are the main protagonists as per the Kashmiri Shaivism. Swacchand Bhairava is the light consciousness the Prakash aspect and Aghoreshvari signifies Vimarsha or self-awareness. Swacchand – also means “Free”, “Independent”, “spontaneous” and also is synonymous with “Swatantra”, which means free independent will of the Supreme Consciousness.This esoteric form of Swacchand is imagined and deified as
* White
* Five faced
* Wide eyed lord.
* He is adorned with serpents and wears a necklace of scorpions which are called as Gonas/Gunus (GUNUS is Kashmir lexicon for serpent, Kashmiri women folk do wear GUNUS bangle which has two serpents gazing at each other at the ends). This is symbolic of his instantaneousplay of playing with the bonds of soul
*Lord wears a lion skin on his hip and
* Elephant hide on his shoulders.
* He wears a garland of skulls and is black throated with 18 arms.
His consort Aghoresavri sits on his lap on right thigh has the same characteristics.

This form of Lords manifests out of his own free will and highest Sakti. The lord has done so to facilitate and allow the aspirants to enter the light of non duality.He is wide eyed. He is in Bhairva Mudra intent on liberation of souls. He is focused within, looking out He neither opens nor closes his eyes.He is overflowing with Consciousness and Bliss and has three power-tools Will (Icchha), Knowledge (Jnana) and Action (Kriya).It is with these tools that Swachandnath Bhairava manifests this universe with his five fold acts of Shristi (Creation), Stithi (Sustenance), Samhara (Dissolution), Triodanha (Concealing) and Anugrah (Revealing).By His act of Shristi (Creation) He Holds and Nourishes the Universe.Stithi is the persistence, the moment in which the consciousness is immersed in its projected content.Samhara is the retraction, Consciousness reabsorbs the content it has projected.Triyodanha is enfolding or concealing of creation with respect to time and space.
Anugraha is unfolding or revealing projections in manifest world.

With these five fold acts Swacchandnath Bhairava along with His consort Agoreshwari create animate and inanimate world thus unleashing the divine play. The world is nothing but the mirror image of Swacchandnath Bhairava and to recognize this unity between the individual soul is the purpose of well meaning life. Lord Shiva spreads the nectar of creativeness, shields the jivatma from the torturous transmigration, brings forth the inner consciousness by tearing apart the individual ego which essentially is the ignorance, terminates maya, binds the universe and brings forth the Bliss which is unlimited.
However, the litany of rituals involving the traditional prayer is comprehensive. It involves Observance of fast – the family members observe fast and partake the meals only after completing the Pooja.Earthen Utensils – Pitcher full of water and walnut is consecrated as Vatuk Bhairava. The Shiva ganas are also suitably represented in various images.

Walnut distribution – The walnut holds the most important prasada of the Shivratri festival. The reason being that four kernels of it represent the four purususharthasor what the Hindus consider to be the four objects or goals of existence-dharma (discharge of duty), artha (acquirement of wealth), kama (the gratification of desire) and moksha (the final emancipation). Besides it has a special significance in Kashmiri Shaivism as the two segment’s of walnut signify Shiva Shakti Samarasa or unity which implies that creation comes into effect with unity of both of them.

Conclusion of festivity – Shivratri festival concludes on Amavasya with cleaning of pitcher and carrying back of utensils from riverside by family members. On return family members invoke the blessings of Rama Bhairava the mind born son of Goddess Parvati as being younger he is given due share at the end of ceremony unlike Vatuka who is worshipped in the beginning.
Thus this way the transcendental experience of emergence of Swacchand Bhairava and playfulness of Goddess is observed and celebrated. The celebration if observed with sincere disposition removes the non duality among the souls and pushes the seeker to the higher orbit of self awareness.


Keywords: Shivratri , Kashmiri Hindus, Shiv Tattvas, Har Ratri or Hearth, Swacchand Bhairava, Rama Bhairava, Jawala linga , Vatuka , Kashmiri Shaivism, Prakash, Aghoreshvari ,