Aghor Bhairavacharya


Shri Aghoreshwar


Aghor Bhairavacharya is regarded by Kinaramis as one of the ancient Aghor Masters whose memory has been handed down through oral tradition. Shri Aghoreshwar Bhagwan Ramji used to say that Baba Kina Ramji started again where Aghor Bhairavacharya had stopped. Baba Kina Ramji gave new life to the archaic teaching he received through Baba Kalu Ramji.

The court historian Banabhatta (7th century A.D.), contemporary of the great emperor Harsha Vardana,  in his literary work Harsha Charita describes some ancient practices in full details. Bhairavacharya could be not only a literary character but a Master, or a Masters’ line, whose feats have been echoed by Banabhatta, enclosing the memory of these ones in his work to bring prestige to Harsha Vardana’s lineage. It is the first time that Aghori like practices are described in written texts as worthy of the utmost reputation and Bhairavacharya as a great saint and Siddha. Banabhatta’s work testifies the recognition and support of scholars and high classes to this kind of ascetics and their practices. Harsha Charita seems to be the only Sanskrit work where the ritual of the Great Mantra (Mahamantra) “Heart of Mahakala-Shiva” (Mahakala-Hridaya) is mentioned.


Mahakala – Kathmandu 1989


Harsha-Charita, abstract of Chapter 3

The ancestor of Harsha’s lineage, Puspabhuti, was very devoted to Shiva and an admirer of Mahashaiva ascetics. When he heard for the first time Bhairavacharya’s name, conceived a deep affection towards him and desired to see him. Bhairavacharya was from Deccan and his powers (siddhis), made famous by his excellence in various sciences, were, like his many thousands of disciples, spread abroad over the whole mankind.

One day an emaciated mendicant, Titibha, wearing a red ascetic’s scarf and with a recluse’s appearance, stood in front of the royal palace’s guards declaring that he had come by order of Bhairavacharya. The king told the chamberlain to introduce him  and welcomed him with great courtesy; when he was seated, the king asked him where Bhairavacharya was. The mendicant answered that he was staying in a deserted house near the forest on the banks of Sarasvati and added that He honoured the king with His blessings. He drew from his pack five jewelled silver lotuses which overlaid the hall with a glow of light, and gave them to the king. Taking the gifts the king added that the next day he would have gone to the Guru.

The next day he got up early, mounted his horse and accompanied by only a few nobles, like the moon visiting the sun, proceeded towards the place where Bhairavacharya was staying.

One of Bhairavacharya’s disciples approached them and the king asked where the Master was staying. He answered that He was in a Bel-tree plantation, north of  the old temple of the Mothers (Matrikas). When he reached this place he dismounted his horse and enter the plantation on foot. In the midst of  a great number of recluses he saw Bairavacharya sitting on a tiger skin, laid on the ground smeared with cow dung, inside a circle of white ash (Vibhuti). His body was shining as red arsenic paste and his hair twisted over his head in the style of ascetics, plaited with rudraksa seeds and shells. His forehead was marked wit ash, he was wearing a pair of rock crystal earrings and an iron armlet on his arm. Mala was turning in his hand like a millwheel. His beard was thick and he was wearing a loincloth and a light shawl. He had been keeping the vow of celibacy since his childhood. Supreme in penance and incomparable in wisdom, He was as Kailash, having his head purified by the dust of Pashupati’s (Shiva) feet; as the heaven of Shiva, abode of Maheshwara’s multitudes.


Shri Aghoreshwar


Bhairavacharya rose to meet the king and invited him to seat on the tiger skin with him, but Puspabhuti kindly refused, saying that he ideally considered himself His humble disciple and so the Master’s seat had to be respected, not desecrated. He asked Bahiravacharya to reoccupy his tiger skin while he seated on a rug brought by an attendant. The Master, captivated by the good manners of the king answered that he, His son, was a virtuous king, whose undertakings harmonized with his greatness, as a vessel for universal good-fortune. He said that He, Bhairavacharya, from birth upwards had never regarded to riches, that His person had never been sold to wealth and His life was sustained by alms. He humbly declared that His modest knowledge and His merit acquired by service of Shiva would have been at the king’s disposal. Puspabhuti said that the mere sight of His person had filled him with joy and that by His mere coming in his reign the Master had placed him in an enviable position. After this meeting the king, happy in his heart, went back to his palace.

After a few days Bhairavacharya went to the king who, receiving him, placed himself, his harem, his court and his treasury at the ascetic’s disposal. Bhairavacharya answered with a smile that the children of the woods like Him had nothing to do with power, the brightness shining in them is like that of the firefly, which scorches no other being and only the king’s peers were vessels for fortune. After staying some time with the king He went back to the forest.


Shri Aghoreshwar


On each occasion Titibha presented the king with five silver lotuses but one day he entered with something wrapt in white rags. He explained that a Brahman disciple of Bhairavacharya, Patalaswamin, took from the hand of a Brahmaraksasa (a demon begotten from Brahma’s feet) the legendary sword Attahasa, and the Master was giving it to him because it was a weapon befitting his majesty’s arm. Removing the covering of rags, the weapon appeared like the autumn sky converted to a scimitar, the  Kaliya snake in its anger against Krishna become a blade, a bit of the black cloud of doomsday fallen from the heaven, composed of steel heated by the fiery wrath of fate, comrade of great valour. The king, extremely pleased, accepted the flashing sword giving his thanks to Bhairavacharya.


Shri Aghoreshwar at Kumba Mela


After a short time Bhairavacharya asked the king to help Him with the completion of Mahamantra Mahakala-Hridaya (Heart of Mahakala-Shiva), a rite He had already started in the Great Cemetery repeating over a million Mantras, in garlands, clothes and unguents all of black. The purpose of the rite was to subdue a Vetala (a Naga spirit or demigod). Without companions it would have been unattainable and the king had the ability for taking part in the rite; if he had undertaken the task, Tithiba, the mendicant friend of Bhairavacharya’s boyhood, Patalaswamin and Karnatala would have been the other assistants. He said that if he had approved, he had to take Attahasa and become for one night the bolt of one quarter of the heavens.

The king, delighted like one in darkness who sees a light, replied that he would have been honoured to share that task with His disciples. Bhairavacharya arranged to meet the king at the empty hose near the cemetery on the night of the dark moon.

The appointed day arrived and the sovereign perfumed and adorned with wreaths the wonderful sword. When the day come to a close, a ruddy hue spread over the sky, as if it had been sprinkled with the blood of an animal sacrifice. When the night got deep, in the soundless stillness of the sleeping world, he left the palace in secret and reached the meeting place. Bhairavacharya’s disciples came out of the deep darkness, armed like Drona’s son ready for the night assault, and together they reached the Master.


Shri Aghoreshwar


In the centre of a great circle of withe ash, Bhairavacharya could be seen as a form all aglow with light, like the autumn sun enveloped in a broad halo or a Mandala in the whirlpool of the churned Ocean of Milk. Seated on the breast of a corpse (Shava Sadhana) laid on the ground, anointed with red sandal paste and arrayed in garlands, clothes and ornaments all of red, the Great Aghor was wearing a black turban, black unguents, black amulets and black garments and had begun a fire rite in the corpse’s mouth, where a flame was burning. As he offered some black sesamum seeds, it seemed as, in his eagerness of becoming a Vidhyadhara, he was annihilating the atoms of the progressing decomposition. Mantras came out of his mouth in a form visually perceptible. The lamps near him seemed to be devouring his body with the flames, as if he had been offered to the fire to ensure the success of the rite.

The king and the three disciples saluted and took their place in each of the four directions around Him while Bhairavacharya was proceeding with his awful work. At the very instant of midnight the earth was rent open to the north not far from the magic circle displaying a fissure, and suddenly a spirit, dark as a blue lotus, came out of the chasm. It was Naga Srikantha and he attacked the sage, protected by the king and the three disciples. The Naga, frightening and giant, in his formidable power, roaring as Narashima, soon dashed his opponents, letting them defenceless. He laughed at Bhairavacharya for daring to challenge him and insulted the king, laying on the ground, for his friendship with a Shaiva outcast. The king, who had never heard himself reviled before, felt a stream of sweat pouring out of his limbs as when the body is drunk with battles. He rose furiously and even Attahasa, mirroring the constellations, seemed to proclaim its unbending spirit by a contemptuous smile, showing a row of white teeth. Puspabhuti, wielding Attahasa, rushed upon Srikantha starting a furious fight and seriously wounded the demon. He smote the Naga and, having seized him by the hair, was going to strike off his head when he saw that the demon was wearing the sacred thread and so he stopped. Instantaneously he heard a tinkle of anklets and he saw, in the centre of the sword, like a lighting flash in the womb of a black cloud, a woman whose radiance seemed to swallow up the night. The Goddess appeared and said that Puspabhuti could ask her any boon, by virtue of  his heroic determination in the fight and his compassion in sparing Naga’s life. The king bowed to Her and as the perfect heroes unwearied in serving others, besought the blessing for the completion of Bhairavacharya’s rite. Lakshmi agreed to his request and rewarded the king promising him a bright future and a glorious descent.


Shri Aghoreshwar


Bhairavacharya, by the full performance of the rite, acquired the eight insignia: the hair-lock, diadem, earrings, armlet, necklace, girdle, hammer and sword, becoming so Bearer of Knowledge (Vidhyadhara). The sage asked the king if he had any request seen that only thanks to his help He had been able to complete the Mahamantra. Puspabhuti replied that the chance to be in His service was his greatest reward.

Bhairavacharya saluted the king and His dear disciples and then ascended into Heaven. Srikantha, now subdued, promised his services to the king whenever necessary and, with his consent, entered the same fissure in the earth again.

The three disciples returned to the court with the king but after a few days Tithiba went back to the woods while the other two became part of the personal guard of Puspabhuti and told Bhairavacharya’s feats for the rest of their life.