There is an amazing tale related with the birth of Kalbhiti. During ancient times there lived a sonless brahmin named Manti in Kashi. He did an austere penance to get a son. At last, lord Shiva became pleased by his devotion and appeared. Lord Shiva said–‘You will be blessed with an enlightened son who would liberate your whole clan.’
In course of time Manti’s wife became pregnant but amazingly did not deliver a baby even after a long time. Four years passed like this but Manti’s wife did not deliver the child. Manti was perplexed by this unusual event so he asked the baby, who was still in his mother’s womb as to why he was hesitant to come out. The child replied that he feared ‘Kal’ and this was the reason why he was not taking birth. The child said–‘If you can assure me of protection from ‘Kal’ then I shall certainly take birth.’ How could have Manti given such an assurance. So he took refuge in Lord Shiva.Lord Shiva ordered four of his ganas to go and convince the baby. The names of these five ganas were Dharma, Gyan, Vairagya Aishwarya and Adharma. They assured the baby
by saying–‘Get rid of your fear. We assure you that each four of us (Dharma, Gyan, Vairagya and Aishwarya) will never abandon you.”
The fifth gana named Adharma on the contrary promised not to caste his evil Shadow on the baby. These assurances were enough for the baby to come out from the womb. But, even after taking birth the child was trembling and wailing in fear.The ganas said–Manti! Your child is still fearful of the Kal. He is trembling and crying inspite of the best of our efforts to drive away is fears. So he will become famous as Kalbhiti (one who is fearful of Kal).
Kalbhiti grew up to be a virtuous person. He used to engage himself in various kinds of austerities. He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. One day, as Kalbhiti was meditating under a
‘bael’ tree (wood apple), he went into his trance. The joy experienced during trance period was something, which he had never experienced before. He decided to regularly meditate under that tree. He did penance for one hundred years standing on his toe. Lord Shiva became pleased by his devotion and appeared in the guise of a human being. Lord Shiva said–‘O Great soul Please discontinue with your penance. I have brought some water for you! Please quench your thirst!’
But Kalbhiti refused to take water from an unknown person. He requested Lord Shiva to reveal his identity. Kalbhiti also inquired Lord Shiva about his religion and conduct. Lord Shiva told him that he was beyond any religion or conduct.When Kalbhiti refused to have water, Lord Shiva dug up a large pit and emptied the pot into it. After that he disappeared. Kalbheeti stood fixed at that place, being stunned by the disappearance of Lord Shiva. Suddenly, an effulgent Shivalinga appeared under that bael (wood apple) tree. Kalbheeti worshipped that Shivalinga which was radiating light in all directions. Now, Lord Shiva appeared and blessed Kalbheeti to become free from the fear of Kal (Death). From that day onwards the Shivalinga situated there became famous as Mahakal. Before disappearing once again, Lord Shiva instructed Kalbheeti to preach Sage Karandham who was expected to visit him shortly. Kalbheeti himself became renowned as Mahakal because he had been successful in conquering death.
As predicted by Lord Shiva, king Karandham arrived at the place where Mahakal (Kalbheeti) was staying. First of all he worshipped Lord Mahakal and subsequently went to meet Sage Mahakal (previously Kalbheeti). King Karandham had numerous doubts regarding the rituals of Shraddh so he asked Mahakal–‘How does the rituals related to ‘tarpan’ satisfy the dead ancestors?’
Mahakal replied–The souls of dead ancestors are capable of accepting whatever is offered to them. Time and distance does not matter to them. They accept only the essence of whatever is offered to them and not the gross materials as such. Karandham posed his second query–‘I think a soul, after it has abandoned the mortal body is bound by its own karma. Then, how, can the dead ancestors be expected of giving us blessings and changing our fortunes.’
Mahakal replied—Not all Pitras (dead ancestors) are bound by their karma. Pitras belonging to different classes like deities, ‘asuras’ and ‘yaksha’ are unembodied and formless (amurta). Similarly, the dead ancestors of all the four castes are called ‘murta Pitras’ (with form). These
seven types of Pitras are considered to be eternal and powerful. They also transcend the law of Karma. A total number of 31 ganas are subordinate to them. The rituals of Shraddh are performed for the pacification of these seven eternal Pitras. These seven Pitras are the ones who shower blessings on the performers of Shraddh rituals.’ Karandham’s next question was–‘Some people are of the view that one can attain salvation only by taking refuge in Lord Vishnu. While some think that only Lord Brahma is capable of giving salvation. There are many people who consider Lord Shiva as the supreme liberator. What do you have to say on this?’
Mahakal replied–‘God is one. The three deities you have named even they eulogize each other. It is nothing but foolishness to grade them as superior, average or inferior. The thing, which matters most in the path of salvation, is individual’s unflinching faith and devotion. Any deity in whom he has total devotion is capable of giving salvation. Karandham then requested Mahakal to describe the appropriate rituals related with the worship of Lord Shiva.
Mahakal replied—A devotee who puts on ‘tripund’ mark on his forehead, chest and both the shoulders while worshipping Lord Shiva is blessed to see the divine appearance of Lord Shiva. He should enter the temple premise with a pure heart. After entering the temple he should purify the Shivalinga by removing all the unnecessary articles which may be lying there. He should then fill up four ‘Garuas’ (drinking pot with a curved spout) with water. Articles like milk, curd clarified butter, honey and sugarcane juice are kept to the left side of Shivalinga. The devotee should then come out of the temple and worship the ‘dwarpalas’. After that, deities like Kuldevta, Nandi, Mahakal Dhata and Vidhata are worshipped.
Once again he should enter the temple and sit in front of the Shivalinga and meditate on Lord Shiva. While performing ‘ardhya’ he should make offerings of articles like water, akshat, kusha grass, sandalwood, flowers, mustard seeds, milk, curd and honey. Having offered ardhya, a devotee should perform the ritual of ablution with water, milk, curd, honey, clarified butter, and sugarcane juice in the given order.
While performing this ritual the devotee should also offer dhupa (incense) and chant
‘Om Hoom Vishvamurtaye Namah’.
Some other deities whom a devotee must worship along with the worship of Lord Shiva are Ishan, Tatpurush, Sadryojat etc. A devotee must also not forget to worship Shiva’s trident. While doing this he should chant–
Trishul Dhanuh Khadga Kapal Kutharebhyo Namah.
A devotee should conclude his worship by begging for Lord Shiva’s forgiveness for any mistake that he might have committed while performing the rituals.