We have known Shiva as various energy forms – Kala Bhairava is a unique manifestation of Shiva which is in the form of time. You cannot manage time because it is running at its own pace. Energy you can manage, you can play with it. Time is running at its own pace. But there is a certain dimension of consciousness, which can go beyond time. That dimension of consciousness is referred to as Kala Bhairava.
There’s a beautiful story in the tradition. All of you who are from the Indian background at least, you definitely have heard of Markandeya. The story is told in many ways, this needs to be understood.
Markandeya was a child. When he was born or before he was born this choice was made – the parents had to choose, either they’ll have an idiot who will live for 100 years, or a brilliant shining being who will live only for 16 years. The parents were wise, and they chose the latter that they bore a brilliant, shining child of enormous capabilities. But as days passed, as years rolled they became – because they know the expiry date. Every child you bear has come with the expiry date, it is just that you don’t know the expiry date including yourself.
But now they know the expiry date of their child, so they became very tortured as the date came close, and they revealed this to the child. Because the child was phenomenally wise and knowledgeable and when the moment came, when the god of death, Yama came to claim his life, Markandeya who knew the ways of life, just did one simple act – there was a form of Shiva in the form of an ellipsoid or a linga – an energy form – which was particularly consecrated as Kala Bhairava, and he just held the linga. The moment he held the linga, time came to a standstill and death could not approach him, and held him right there.
Then that dimension of consciousness opened up within him, where he was not available for time any more. They say he continued to live as a fifteen-year-old boy, never turning sixteen. Because he came in touch with that dimension of consciousness which we refer to as Kala Bhairava.
Kala means time. Kala also means nothingness. Kala also means cycles on one level. Kala also means beyond cycles on another level. So these things in a subtle way they are deciphered Kala, Kalabhairava, Mahakala – these are all talking about the same thing in different dimensions of experience. Right now our experience of time is all because of the cycles of the nature. Anything that is in cycles, we can measure – how many times it went around, that’s how we are coming to an understanding of time.
And Kalabhairava is just making an embodiment of that, so that we can access it – creating an energy space where we can access that dimension. I think in Tamil the way the word is used is very appropriate. When somebody dies, they’ll say ‘Kalam ayitanga’ – that means his time got over. It’s very simple and it’s perfect. All that happened is – the time got over. They don’t understand we are like timed toys, we’re just going on, when the battery runs out, poof. It’s just that most human beings don’t realize time is ticking away. They think they’re on forever. No, we are toys of time. Time is playing with us right now, and it’s getting over. You do something it gets over, you don’t do something it gets over, you burn intensely like a volcano it gets over, you just be insipid it gets over, do whatever the hell, it is getting over. So you are just a toy of time.
So, Kalabhairava is to access that dimension, so that you become a master of time. If you become a master of time, that means you’ve become a master of life too, and the life process, because all life process is based and rooted in time.