Vaishno Devi
Overview
 
Vaishno Devi Mandir is one of the holy Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 temples dedicated to Shakti
Shakti
Shakti from Sanskrit shak - "to be able," meaning sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes...

, located in the hills of Vaishno Devi, Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India. It is situated mostly in the Himalayan mountains. Jammu and Kashmir shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south and internationally with the People's Republic of China to the north and east and the...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. In Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, Vaishno Devi, also known as Mata Rani and Vaishnavi, is a manifestation of the Mother Goddess
Devi
Devī is the Sanskrit word for Goddess, used mostly in Hinduism, its related masculine term is deva. Devi is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents...

.

The temple is near the town of Katra, in the Reasi
Reasi
Reasi is a town and a notified area committee, tehsil and now a district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is situated at the bank of River Chenab. Reasi derived its name from its old name "RASYAL".Rasyal is a caste belongs to Rajput Category. In the eighth century Reasi was called...

 district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India. It is situated mostly in the Himalayan mountains. Jammu and Kashmir shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south and internationally with the People's Republic of China to the north and east and the...

. It is one of the most revered places of worship in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. The shrine is at an altitude of 5200 feet and a distance of approximately 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) from Katra
Katra
Katra or Katra Vaishno Devi, as it is popularly known, is a small town in Jammu and Kashmir, India, situated in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains, where the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is located...

.
Encyclopedia
Vaishno Devi Mandir is one of the holy Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 temples dedicated to Shakti
Shakti
Shakti from Sanskrit shak - "to be able," meaning sacred force or empowerment, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism. Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes...

, located in the hills of Vaishno Devi, Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India. It is situated mostly in the Himalayan mountains. Jammu and Kashmir shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south and internationally with the People's Republic of China to the north and east and the...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. In Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, Vaishno Devi, also known as Mata Rani and Vaishnavi, is a manifestation of the Mother Goddess
Devi
Devī is the Sanskrit word for Goddess, used mostly in Hinduism, its related masculine term is deva. Devi is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents...

.

The temple is near the town of Katra, in the Reasi
Reasi
Reasi is a town and a notified area committee, tehsil and now a district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is situated at the bank of River Chenab. Reasi derived its name from its old name "RASYAL".Rasyal is a caste belongs to Rajput Category. In the eighth century Reasi was called...

 district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India. It is situated mostly in the Himalayan mountains. Jammu and Kashmir shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south and internationally with the People's Republic of China to the north and east and the...

. It is one of the most revered places of worship in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. The shrine is at an altitude of 5200 feet and a distance of approximately 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) from Katra
Katra
Katra or Katra Vaishno Devi, as it is popularly known, is a small town in Jammu and Kashmir, India, situated in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains, where the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is located...

. Approximately 8 million pilgrims (yatris) visit the temple every year and it is the second most visited religious shrine in India, after Tirumala Venkateswara Temple
Tirumala Venkateswara Temple
Tirumala Venkateswara Temple ), is a Hindu temple in the hill town of Tirumala, near Tirupati in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, South India. It is around from Chennai, from Hyderabad, and from Bangalore....

. The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board maintains the shrine. A rail link from Udhampur
Udhampur
Udhampur is a city and a municipal council in Udhampur District in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the second lardest city of Duggardesh region and the fourth largest city in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It serves as the district capital and the Northern Command headquarter of the...

 to Katra is being built to facilitate pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

. The nearest airport is Jammu Airport which has very high flight frequency. All leading domestic airlines have their services to Jammu Airport.

Significance

According to a Hindu epic, Maa Vaishno Devi was born in the south of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 in the home of Ratnakar Sagar. Her worldly parents had remained childless for a long time. Ratnakar had promised, the night before the birth of the Divine child, that he would not interfere with whatever his child desired. Ma Vaishno Devi was called Trikuta as a child. Later She was called Vaishnavi because of Her taking birth from Lord Vishnu's lineage. When Trikuta was 9 years old, She sought her father's permission for doing penance on the seashore. Trikuta prayed to Lord Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 in the form of Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

. During Shree Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

's search for Sita
SITA
SITA is a multinational information technology company specialising in providing IT and telecommunication services to the air transport industry...

, He reached the seashore along with His army. His eyes fell on this Divine Girl in deep meditation. Trikuta told Shree Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 that She had accepted Him as Her husband. Shree Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 told Her that during this Incarnation
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

 He had vowed to be faithful to only Sita
SITA
SITA is a multinational information technology company specialising in providing IT and telecommunication services to the air transport industry...

. However pleased with her devotion , Lord Rama gave her name vaishnavi (devotee of lord rama (Maha Vishnu)and assured Her that in Kaliyuga He would manifest as Kalki
Kalki
In Hinduism, Kalki is the tenth and final Maha Avatar of Vishnu who will come to end the present age of darkness and destruction known as Kali Yuga. The name Kalki is often a metaphor for eternity or time...

 and would marry Her.

In the meantime Shree Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 asked Trikuta to meditate in the cave found in the Trikuta Range of Manik Mountains, situated in Northern India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.Lord Ram gave her a bow and arrows, army of monkeys and a lion for her protection, Ma decided to observe the 'Navratra' for the Victory of Shree Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 against Ravana
Ravana
' is the primary antagonist character of the Hindu legend, the Ramayana; who is the great king of Lanka. In the classic text, he is mainly depicted negatively, kidnapping Rama's wife Sita, to claim vengeance on Rama and his brother Lakshmana for having cut off the nose of his sister...

. Hence one reads the Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

 during the 9 days of Navratra, in remembrance of the above connection. Shree Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 promised that the whole world would sing Ma Vaishno Devi's praise. Lord Rama also said Trikuta was to become famous as Vaishno Devi and would become immortal forever.The abode of Maa Vaishno devi is attaining huge pilgrimage attraction due to Lord Rama's blessings to the goddess.

With the passage of time many more stories about the Mother Goddess emerged. One such story is about Shree-Dhar.

Shree-Dhar was an ardent devotee of Ma Vaishno Devi. He resided in a village called Hansali, 2 km away from the present Katra
Katra
Katra or Katra Vaishno Devi, as it is popularly known, is a small town in Jammu and Kashmir, India, situated in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains, where the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is located...

 town. Once Ma appeared to him in the form of a young bewitching girl. The young girl asked the humble Pandit to hold a 'Bhandara'. (A feast to feed the mendicants and devotees) The Pandit set out to invite people from the village and near-by places. He also invited 'Bhairav Nath' a selfish tantrik. Bhairav Nath asked Shri-Dhar how he was planning to fulfil the requirements. He reminded him of the bad consequences in case of failure. As Panditji was lost in worry, the Divine girl appeared and told Him not to be despondent as everything had been arranged. She asked that over 360 devotees be seated in the small hut. True to Her word the Bhandara went smoothly with food and place to spare.
Bhairav Nath admitted that the girl had supernatural powers and decided to test Her further. He followed the Divine girl to Trikuta Hills. For 9 months Bhairav Nath was searching for the mystic girl in the mountains, whom he believed was an incarnation
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

 of the Mother Goddess. While running away from Bhairav, Devi shot an arrow into the Earth from which water gushed out. The resultant river is known as Baanganga. It is believed that by taking a bath in Baanganga (Baan: Arrow), a believer of the Mother Goddess can wash away all his sins. The banks of the river, known as Charan Paduka, are marked by Devi's foot imprints, which remains intact till date. Vaishno Devi then took shelter in a cave known as Garbh Joon near Adhkawari where she meditated for 9 months attaining spiritual wisdom and powers. Her meditation was cut short when Bhairav located her. Vaishno Devi was then compelled to take the form of Maha Kali
Kali
' , also known as ' , is the Hindu goddess associated with power, shakti. The name Kali comes from kāla, which means black, time, death, lord of death, Shiva. Kali means "the black one". Since Shiva is called Kāla - the eternal time, Kālī, his consort, also means "Time" or "Death" . Hence, Kāli is...

 when Bhairav tried to kill her. The manifestation of the Mother Goddess took place at the mouth of the Holy cave at Darbar. The Goddess then beheaded Bhairav with such sheer force, that his skull fell at a place known as Bhairav Ghati, 2.5 km from the Holy Cave.

In his dying moments, Bhairav pleaded for forgiveness. The Goddess knew that Bhairav's main intention in attacking her was to achieve salvation. She not only granted Bhairav liberation from the cycle of reincarnation
Reincarnation
Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

, but also granted him a boon, whereby every devotee, in order to ensure completion of the pilgrimage, had to visit Bhairav Nath's temple near the Holy cave after the darshan of the Goddess.Meanwhile Vaishno Devi assumed the shape of a rock with three pindis (heads) and immersed herself into meditation forever.

Meanwhile, Pandit Shree-Dhar became impatient. He started to march towards Trikuta Mountain on the same path that he had witnessed in a dream. He ultimately reached the cave mouth. He made a daily routine of worshipping the 'Pindis' in several ways. His worship pleased the Goddess. She appeared in front of him and blessed him. Since that day, Shree-Dhar and his descendants have been worshipping the Goddess Mother Vaishno Devi.

External links

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