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Kal Bhairav, Lord of Destruction

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Depiction of Kal Bhairav, Lord of Destruction

Image courtesy of Bryan Spykerman

Multi-layered symbolism and legends.

Kal Bhairav, the Lord of Destruction. This fearsome 10-foot tall stone figure is another of the many aspects of Shiva. Atop his wide-eyed face is a crown decorated with human skulls. On his back is a human skin. The prostrate figure upon which Kal Bhairav is standing represents human ignorance. It is also said that the prone figure is Kal Bhairav's father-in-law, who insulted Shiva and caused his own daughter, Kal Bhairav's wife, to commit suicide. Kal Bhairav has six arms, and in one of his hands he holds a skull cup that worshipers often toss coins into. There are always a few boys around to quickly snatch them up.

Erected in the 17th or 18th century, the statue was supposedly used as a lie detector. People suspected of committing a crime would be brought before the statue, made to touch its feet, and then forced to say whether or not they committed the crime. It was believed that if they lied, they would immediately bleed to death. The mere threat of being brought before Kal Bhairav was often enough to elicit a confession.

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, August 02). Kal Bhairav, Lord of Destruction. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: http://ocw.usu.edu/Anthropology/Anthropology_of_Religion/pict0030_jpg.htm. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License