|Mata Vaishno Devi shreedhar|
|Proper name:||Vaishno Devi Mandir|
|State:||Jammu and Kashmir|
|Architecture and culture|
|Primary deity:||Vaishno Devi (Shakti)|
|Creator:||Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board|
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In Hinduism, Vaishno Devi, also known as Mata Rani and Vaishnavi, is a manifestation of the Mother Goddess or Durga. The words "maa" and "mata" are commonly used in India for "mother", and thus are often used in connection with Vaishno Devi.
The words "mandir" and "mandira" are commonly used in India for "Hindu temple", and so these words are also often used in connection with Vaishno Devi. Vaishno Devi Mandir (Hindi: वैष्णोदेवी मन्दिर) is one of the holy Hindu temples dedicated to Shakti, located at the Trikuta Mountains within the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Vaishno devi is one of 108 shakti peetha, the story of Vaishno Devi is found in Chandi uppurana. When Vishnu Bhagwaan cuts Sati Maa's body into 108 peethas then 52 body parts fell onto earth atmosphere and rest of the 56 fell on other planets. Out of which the "Blessing Hand" of Goddess Sati had fallen on "Planet Venus" or Shukra. Goddess Lakshmi is considered to be the ruling planet of Shukra hence also known as Goddess of Venus. But in the beginning of Treta Yug, there was a devil called "Mur", he got the boon from Brahma that he must not be killed by any human being, god, trinity, or any one born on Earth. Eventually in a gods-demon war, Demon Mur ran behind his greatest enemy Vishnu, who went to the place where was the shakti peetha of Goddess Sati on the Planet venus. Goddess Lakshmi insisted goddess Parvati, the next incarnation of Adi Parashakti after Sati, for help, thereby goddess Sharda and goddess Parvati in the form Kalika, went to the region. Goddess Lakshmi incarnated in spiritual form, because physically, she had already been taken birth as Goddess Vedavati who later on would become Sita in next incarnation. So Mother Parvati herself gave her physical appearance, with a soul of "Lakshmi" and Goddess of knowledge, Saraswati. The girl born was named "Kumari". Saraswati, Kali and Lakshmi dropped three pindies (Sacred stones) as their true forms, where they will be present till the end of Kaliyuga. To make the devil not known about the birth of the miracle goddess, Lord Shiva Shifted the mountain to Earth. When the devil entered the place who was running after Lord Vishnu saw a little girl. She killed him and there by, Vishnu got another name called "Murari".
Since her soul was of Lakshmi so she wanted to have Vishnu as her consort. She incarnated in the house of Lord Ratnakar, this time Narada named her "Trikuta" also by the names kumari etc.
The girl right from her childhood displayed a hunger for knowledge which was like a vortex and which no amount of teaching and learning could sufficiently satiate. Subsequently, Vaishnavi started looking into her inner self for knowledge, and soon learned the art of meditation and realized that meditation and penance only could bring her close to her greater objective. Vaishnavi thus relinquished all household comforts and went deep into the forest for Tapasaya (meditation).
When she heard that Lord Rama moved to forest for exile as such Trikuta also went to forests. Meanwhile, Lord Rama, during his fourteen years of exile happened to visit Vaishnavi who recognized him immediately as no ordinary being but the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and immediately asked him to merge her into himself so that she could become one with the supreme creator.
However Lord Rama, knowing that it was not the appropriate time, dissuaded her by saying that he would visit her again after the end of his exile, and at that time if she succeeded in recognizing him, he would fulfill her wish. True to his words, Rama visited her again after being victorious in the battle, but this time he did so in the disguise of an old man. Unfortunately, Vaishnavi was unable to recognize him this time and was distraught. Upon this, Lord Rama consoled her that the appropriate time for her being one with the creator had not come, and that time would come eventually in 'Kaliyug' when He (Rama) would be in his incarnation of 'Kalki'. Rama also directed her to meditate, and set up an Ashram at the base of Trikuta hills, to elevate her level of spirituality so as to bless mankind and rid the poor and destitute of their sufferings. Only then would 'Vishnu' merge her into himself. Vaishnavi, immediately set off for the northern part and after immense hardships, reached the foot of the Trikuta Hills. After reaching there she set up her ashram there and began to meditate.
As predicted by Lord Rama, her glory spread far and wide, and people began to flock to her Ashram to seek her blessings. As time passed, a Tantrik named Gorakh Nath who had a vision of the episode between Lord Rama and Vaishnavi in the retrospective time frame, became curious to find out whether Vaishnavi has been able to attain a high level of spirituality or not. He, therefore, sent his most able disciple 'Bhairon Nath' to find out the truth. Bhairon Nath on locating the ashram started observing Vaishnavi secretly, and realised that though a 'Sadhvi' she always carried bow and arrows with her, and was always surrounded by langoors (apes) and a ferocious looking lion. Bhairon Nath was enamored by Vaishnavi's extraordinary beauty, and losing all good sense he began to pester Vaishnavi to marry him. Meanwhile a staunch devotee of Vaishnavi, Mata Sridhar organised a Bhandara (community meal) in which the whole village and Guru Gorakh Nath along with all his followers including Bhairon were invited. During the course of Bhandara Bhairon Nath attempted to grab Vaishnavi but she tried her best to daunt him. On failing to do so, Vaishnavi decided to flee away into the mountains to continue her Tapasaya undisturbed. Bhairon Nath however chased her to her destination.
The goddess after halting at (present day) Banganga, Charan Paduka, and Adhkwari, finally reached the holy cave Shrine. When Bhairon Nath continued to follow her despite the goddess trying to avoid a confrontation, the goddess was compelled to kill him. Bhairon Nath met his ultimate fate when the goddess, just outside the mouth of the cave, beheaded him. The severed head of Bhairon fell with force on a distant hilltop. Bhairon Nath upon his death realised the futility of his mission and prayed to the deity to forgive him. The almighty Mata (Mother Goddess) had mercy on Bhairon and gave him a boon that every devotee of the goddess would have to have the Darshans of Bhairon after having the Darshans of the Goddess and only then would the yatra of a devotee be complete. Meanwhile, Vaishnavi decided to shed off her human form and assuming the face of a rock she immersed her self into meditation forever. Thus Vaishnavi, in the form of a five-and-a-half-foot-tall rock with three heads or the Pindies on the top is the ultimate destination of a devotee. These Pindies constitute the Sanctum Sanctorum of the holy cave known as the shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji, which is revered by one and all.
Vaishno Devi Temple is near the town of Katra, Jammu and Kashmir; in the Reasi district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is one of the most revered places of worship in India. The shrine is at an altitude of 5300 feet and a distance of approximately 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) from Katra.1 About 8 million pilgrims (yatris) visit the temple every year2 and it is the second most visited religious shrine in India, after Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. The Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board maintains the shrine. A rail link from Udhampur to Katra is recently completed to facilitate pilgrimage. The nearest airport is Jammu Airport which has very high flight frequency, and is served by all leading domestic airlines. This place contains three idols of Maha Saraswati, Maha Lakshmi, and Maha Kali, which are all images of Vaishno Devi.3
The shrine is worshiped as a Shakti Peetha which believes its association towards the mythology of Daksha yaga and Sati's self immolation as its origin. Shakti Peethas are shrines enshrined with the presence of Shakti due to the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi, when Lord Shiva carried it and wandered throughout in sorrow. There are 51 Shakti Peeth linking to the 51 alphabets in Sanskrit.456 However as per Chandi purana, Vaishno devi is not counted among 52 shakti peethas, this peeth is counted among 64 shakti peetha listed in Devi Bhagwat purana and 108 Shakti Pethas listed in Chandi Purana. The sources claims that vardaani haath of maa Sati fell here.
Maa Vaishno Devi temple can be reached from Katra. Katra is a small but bustling town around 45 km. from Jammu. From Katra, after getting the 'Yatra Parchi' (Journey Slip) for darshan, devotees can proceed to the Bhavan.
The way to Bhavan is steep and requires a long walk uphill. Alternatively ponies and palanquins are also available. Helicopter service can also be taken for a large part of the trip. The Trust offers comfortable stay for pilgrims.
Indian Railways will start rail services up to Katra from March 2014 (Tentative). They are in communication with the Jammu and Kashmir Government to integrate permit slips for Vaishno Devi Darshan with the train ticket. The passenger can get permit slips while booking the train ticket.7
Information regarding 'Pindi' for first time visitors
Devotees can offer milk, ghee, honey and sugar, to the Goddess when the aarti is being performed.
- "Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board | Official Website". Maavaishnodevi.org. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
- "Yatra Information". Maavaishnodevi.org. 2010-08-01. Retrieved 2010-08-08.
- Aggarwal, J. and Agrawal, S. Modern History of Jammu and Kashmir: Ancient times to Shimla Agreement, p. 10 (Concept Publishing Company, 1995).
- (Translator), F. Max Muller (June 1, 2004). The Upanishads, Vol I. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1419186418.
- (Translator), F. Max Muller (July 26, 2004). The Upanishads Part II: The Sacred Books of the East Part Fifteen. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. ISBN 1417930160.
- Devaswam "Kottiyoor Devaswam Temple Administration Portal". Retrieved 20 July 2013.
- "Now, rail link till Katra for Vaishno Devi pilgrims". The Times of India. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
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