Rath Procession

Kula Devi & Her 21 Bhairavas

There are many ‘Ganas’ of Kurukulla Devi. Some of these ‘Ganas’ are Bhairavas. The Bhairavas are equipped with all the three gunas- Satva, Rajas and Tamas. Which means that some Bhairavs are Satvik, some Rajasik while some are Tamasic. But there are 21 Bhairavas of Kula Devi who are ‘Param Tamasic’ (extremely Tamasik). Throughout the year, all kinds of Bhairavas-  Satvik, Rajasik and Tamasik live with the Goddess, along with the Devatas, Yaksha, Gandharva, Kinnar, Kirata, Ashwa, Naga, Garud and others. Along with them there are Yoginis, Kinnaris, Dakinis who also live with the Goddess Kurukulla. 

But during the winter season, for a particular time-period, Devi goes for Her Sadhna. She establishes Herself in Her original form. It is said that She goes to Her Ratha for ‘Shayan’, i.e. in Yoga Nidra in Samadhi. She dissolves into Her ‘Nirakar’ form, that is, She is formless during this time period.  During this short span, the ‘Asuri’ powers, the dark powers become active on ‘Prithvi Lok’. 

In Kaulantak Peeth, there are Bhairav masks, made up of wood, of all the 21 Bhairavas. Every few years, these masks are remade. These masks are decorated with various metals, with the feathers of various birds and the hair of Yak. Every year, during this time, a festival of Devi is celebrated wherein the ‘Bhairav Nritye’ is performed while wearing these 21 masks. These Bhairav masks are considered very pious and incredibly powerful. The reason being, when the dark powers become active on the ‘Prithvi Loka’, the 21 Bhairavas assume different kinds of fearful forms and they perform the ‘Bhairav Nritye’ so that the dark, the evil powers should not terrorize the Satvik Jeeva and the Satvik human beings on Planet Earth. 

The Bhairav Nritye performed by the 21 Bhairavas (the 21 people who wear these masks symbolise the 21 Bhairavas of the Devi) in the festival is very intriguing and incredibly interesting to watch. The important thing is, during all this time, including during the festival, the Devi is in ‘Shayan’, in Samadhi. She is not present in Her manifested form. Her ‘Ratha’ and ‘Karadi’ are covered with a see-through cloth (the ‘Awaran’) and it is said that the Devi is in ‘Ghoond’ ( covering Herself with the see-through covering called the ‘Ghoond’). 

The list of 21 Bhairavas of the Devi is as follows: 

1. Vyaghra Mukh Bhairav

2. Vanar Mukh Bhairav

3. Mriga Mukha Bhairav

4. Ashwa Mukha Bhairav

5. Daitya Mukha Bhairav

6. Pret Mukha Bhairav

8. Daaka Mukha Bhairav

7. Betal Mukha Bhairav

8. Naga Mukha Bhairav

9. Garuda Mukha Bhairav

10. Kapaala Mukha Bhairav

12. Jataa Mukha Bhairav

13. Vajradanta Mukha Bhairav

14. Shoola Mukha Bhairav

15. Rakta Mukha Bhairav

16. Kaal Mukha Bhairav

17. Manura Mukha Bhairav

18. Varaha Mukha Bhairav

19. Neela Mukha Bhairav

20. Swarna Mukha Bhairav

21. Aghora Mukha Bhairav