By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Ksetrapala, KSetrapala, Kshetrapala
Kṣetrapala literally means ‘guardian of the site’.
The Kṣetrapāla occupies an important place among the subsidiary deities in the temples of Śiva . He is the chief guardian of the temple. His appearance can be described as below:
- His idol is usually naked.
- He has protruding eyes.
- He exhibits sharp fangs in the mouth.
- He has disheveled hair.
- Snakes are his ornaments.
- He is shown with two or four or even six hands carrying:
- He stands on a lotus.
- He is accompanied by a dog.
- He is worshiped first before commencing the regular service of the day.
- He seems to be an aspect of Bhairava.
- He may have three aspects according to the three guṇas:
- He can also be an independent deity with his own shrine usually set up in the north-eastern corner of the village or town.
- His shrine should not face east.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore