As an avatar of Shiva, his weapon is the Trishula. His consorts are Mhalsa, Bhani or Banai or Martanda Bhairavi. Usually his first wife is stated to be Mhalsa and the second to be Banai. His mount is the horse. As a folk-deity, He is the composite of Bhairava, Surya and Kartikeya. He is also depicted as a form of Linga. In murtis, Martanda Bhairava or Khandoba is depicted as having four arms, carrying a Damaru, Trishula, a bowl of turmeric powder and Khadga sword. He is shown seated with one or both his wives and accompanies by dogs.
Bhairava is the fierce form of Siva. Martanda is a name of the Surya, the sun god. So Martanda Bhairava is considered as a combination of Shiva and Surya. Bhairava’s earings sparkle like the burning sun suggestive of Martanda and Bhairva combination.
Temples of Surya and Aditya were frequent during the days of Yadavas of Devagiri as suggested by ‘Lilacarita’. They may have been supersedes or absorbed by folk cults. For example in Nandur, Ahmednagar district, where the Aditya temple mentioned in the Lilacarita degenerated into worship of Nimbadaitya, a bhakta of Lord Rama.
A Martandesvara temple dedicated to Siva is known from Kanigiri Taluk in the Nellore district. In the Khandoba cult the worship of Siva and Surya finds various forms of expression. Sunday and Monday, especially Somvati Amavasya, the conjunction of the sun and the moon on a Monday, are important days. It is said that Martanda Bhairava manifested himself on a Sunday. There is a decorative depiction of this manifestation on the doors of Khandoba temple at Jejuri.
Martanda Bhairava was listed as one of the 64 Bhairavas. It may be far-fetched to explain Martanda Bhairava’s name solely on the basis of Sanskrit sources. It has been proposed that Martanda consists of a bilingual word derived from K. Mari and Ma.tond – both meaning head and face. It is said that ‘Maritona’ was later sanskritised as Martanda. It is possible that Martanda Bhairava was originally worshipped as a head only made of cloth called ‘mukhavta’. This can be seen from half-baked adverse muslim comments of Hindus praying to ‘mukhavtvas’ which were ‘made of rags’.
The daityas accept the overlordship of Martanda Bhairava and more or less absorb the qualities and attributes. The daityas resemble more the ancient folklore of god Rudra-Siva than the Puranic Siva. This was seen folk elements, especially in the conception of dramatic performance of rituals for royalty and oral literature. It is seen that Rudra’s dogs play an important role in the Bhariava cult as dogs are important for pastoral groups, itinerant merchants, for the hunting king and generally hunters and also for some occupations. The connection between dogs and Lord Siva assuming the Bhairava form is always mentioned in passing. Fir instance the Bhairava cults of Mallana, Mailara and Khandoba, (namely the Kannada,Vaggayyas; Telugu,Oggus) and their dog rituals are traced back to the Vratyas and special followers of folk-religious Rudra.
Dogs come next to the importance of the horse in the Martanda Bhairava cult. Khandoba himself is mostly depicted as seated on a horse, though Nandi is his vahana. The horse is traditionally Surya’s vahana. It is said that there is no house shrine of a Khandoba devotee which does not contain a plaque or murthi showing Khandoba seated on a horse together with his wife, Mhalsa. This is indicative that in folk religion, the rupa of the daitya devotee was transported to Martanda Bhairava.
The link with Lord Kartikeya or Skanda and Khandoba is associated with mountains and war. The lance of Skanda and Khandoba’s sword are connected. There is a similarity of both having two wives and their backgrounds.
RITUALS: Tumeric powder and gold are often linked to Hindu rituals and myth. Plaques for worship in Khandoba’s in house shrines were said to be made of gold. Tumeric powder or ‘haridacuma’ is an important ingredient with healing properties. It is linked in this respect to Surya, the great healer. Martanda Bhairava is not only identified with Tumeric but both Siva and Surya are identifiable to termite mounds. Martanda Bhairava is connected with or lives in the termite. Termite mounds have a link with the meditative state of Siva, fertility in marriages and revering it was considered to be a blessing.
MALLARI MAHATMYA is said to be from the chapter of Kshetra Kanda of the Brahmanda Purana. The compilation was completed by Deshastha Brahmin to whom Khandoba was the family deity. The Mahatmya refers to the demon Malla and his younger brother Mani who had gained the boon of invincibility from Lord Brahma. They then created havoc and the Saptarishis approach Lord Shiva for protection. Shiva then assumed the form of Martanda Bhairava.
The Mahatmya mentions offerings of incense, lights, betel and pasu-animals. It stresses plates filled with meat, when the dying demon requests Malla that Shiva should fulfil the wisehs of bhaktas who worship him by the ‘chedapatadi’ ritual by causing themselves to be cut etc. This refers to the hook-swinging rite which continuous in a mild symbolic form of self-mortification. This is ugra meaning violent or demonic bhakti. This is also called ‘raksasi’ bhakti. This saw the bitterness of Brahmins who emphasied sattvik bhakti.
It is said that Martanda Bhairava and his wife Shakti, Martanda Bhairavi, on the sixth of the Margasirsa, manifested themselves at Prempur as svayambhu lingas made of clay under a wishing tree. He manifested himself on the on the requests and for the protection – raksartham of the dharmaputras. So in the city of Prempur, the god was made accessible to all varnas and jatis through dhyana-meditation and He fulfils wishes of all and not just Brahmins, even cattle. While the contents of Mallari Mahatmya is vague, the bhaktas apprehend Lord Siba as Martanda Bhairava took an avatar to kill the demons for the sake of the bhaktas, not specifically for Bhrihmins and their values. dw and enemies.
MANIKASURA-VADHA: This is the killing of Manikasura or Mani. Mani’s war-cry-simhanadana resounded in the three worlds and the summit of Kailasa trembled. With taunting voice, Mani yelled “by whom are you deceived, go for your begging, that is preferable for mendicants, what use is there for battles?” Martanda Bhairava was aroused with anger and furious battle followed. Mani transformed into a sarabha and bit Martanda Bhairava in the arm.
Bhairava used the krittikas, sometimes said to resemble a knife which Mani swallowed like a pebble. Bhairava hit him on his back with his Trishula but Mani changed into a horse of tremendous size. Its neighing made the three worlds tremble. Then Martanda Bhairava cut Mani’s head off with His axe and replaced it with an elephant head. The battle continued. With the elephant head, Mani transformed into a rider on a horse and cut Bhairava’s serpent. Bhairava them released the fire weapon and it hit him. Mani fell into a pond which them came to be known as Turungatirtha – Horse Tirtha.
The serpents which are ornaments of Lord Shiva shone with their hoods like Kala, Death. Finally Mani lost all consciousness.
Martanda Bhairava, then placed his foot on Mani’s head. “Where do you go after I have pleased with my enmity. You have been seen by Me, you had darsana at the end as death on the battlefield.” Having seen God himself, Mani bowed to Siva and became a vessel of grace-krpa-patra. He praised Martanda Bhairava in a stotra calling him Bhutanatha and Rudra, the leader of seven crore ganas. Finally Martanda Bhairava was pleased by Mani’s simple mindedness and perfect bhakti and granted a boon. Mani desired that the readers of his stotra should get the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi. “May my head be always be at your feet” he prayed.
Hara Hara Mahadeva
(draft Gods, Goddesses, Minor Deities and Sages) by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi