Vijnana Bhairava

Definition - What does Vijnana Bhairava mean?

"Vijnana Bhairava" is one of the key scriptures of the non-dual Hindu tradition of Kashmir (Tantric) Shaivism. This text describes 112 dharanas, or meditative practices, for centering awareness. Dharana is one of the eight limbs of yoga as outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.

The name comes from the Sanskrit vijnana, meaning “wisdom” or “knowledge,” and bhairava, meaning “formidable.” In Shaivism, a branch of Hinduism that worships Shiva as the supreme deity, Bhairava is a fierce incarnation of Shiva.

Yogapedia explains Vijnana Bhairava

"Vijnana Bhairava" is a chapter from the extensive Shaivite text, the "Rudrayamala Tantra," and is presented as a conversation between Shiva and his wife, Parvati (Shakti). She asks Shiva to explain the Ultimate Reality and how one can realize it. He responds with the 112 methods for becoming one with divine consciousness. Those methods include such spiritual practices as chanting mantras, awakening kundalini energy, and using mudras and pranayama breathing exercises.

Examples of the methods of concentration include:

  • “Closing the seven openings of the head with your hands, a space between your eyes becomes all-inclusive.”
  • “Imagine spirit simultaneously within and around you until the entire universe spiritualizes.”
  • “Having closed the eyes, and fixing the attention at the crown of the head, gradually stabilize the mind and direct it towards the goal, which will become discernible.”
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