Jai Mata Ki
‘Vaishnavi’ means the one who is related to lord “Vishnu”.
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is one of the oldest shrine of India, located at a height of 5200 feet on the folds of the three peaked mountain Trikuta Hills of the Shivalik Hill Range. The Holy cave is 12 Kms (7.45 miles) from the Base Camp Katra.
The Goddess Mata Vaishno Devi’s abode is in 100 feet long cave with a narrow opening. The holy cold and crystal clear water washes the lotus feet of the Mata’s “Pindian”. There are three natural pindies representing Maha Sarswati, Maha Lakshmi, Maha Kali, which represent creative, preservative, and destructive aspects of the Super Power.
As per the legend, during the period when the Goddess was busy in demolishing the Asuras, her three main manifestations viz. Mata Maha Kali, Mata Maha Lakshmi and Mata Maha Saraswati got together one day and pooled their collective Tejas or spiritual strength. A stunningly bright light aroused from the place where the Tejas of the three manifestations combined and a beautiful young girl emerged out of this Tejas. The young girl asked them, “Why have I been created?” The Devis explained to her that they had created her so that she demolishes Asura (Devil) Mahishasura and she initiates on earth an era of pious and ascetic life so that the peace could prevail upon the world and she through her penance could rise to higher levels of spirituality.
The Devis added, “Now, go and take birth in the house of Ratankar Sagar and his wife who resides in south of India, and who are great devotees of ours. Live on earth. Uphold righteousness and evolve yourself spiritually so that you reach higher levels of consciousness. Once you have attained the appropriate level of consciousness you will merge into Vishnu and become one with him.” Sometime later a girl of extraordinary beauty and strength was born to Ratankar and his wife. The couple named the child Vaishnavi. The girl right from her childhood displayed a hunger for knowledge which was like a cyclone and which no amount of teaching and learning could sufficiently satisfy her. 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. When Vaishnavi was 9 years old, she gave up all household comforts and went deep into the forest for Tapasaya (meditation).
Vaishnavi prayed to Lord Vishnu in the form of Rama. During Shri Rama’s search for Sita, he reached the seashore along with his army. His eyes fell on this Divine Girl in deep meditation. Vaishnavi 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, Lord 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 very upset. 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’. Lord Rama also asked her to meditate, and set up an Ashram at the base of Trikuta hills of Manik Mountains, situated in Northen India, 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. Maa decided to observe the ‘Navratra’ for the Victory of Shri Rama against Ravana. Hence one reads the Ramayana during the 9 days of Navratra, in remembrance of the above connection. 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 was armed by a trident from Shiva, Chakra from Vishnu, a Lion from Himalayas and bows and arrows from Vayu. Bhairon Nath was attracted by Vaishnavi’s extraordinary beauty, and losing all good sense he began to pester Vaishnavi to marry him.
There was an ardent devotee of Vaishnavi, Shree dhar, who resided in a village called Hansali, 2 km from the present Katra town. Maa appeared to him in his dream in the form of a young bewitching girl and asked the humble Pandit to hold a ‘Bhandara’ (Community meal). The Pandit set out to invite people from the village and near-by places. He also invited Guru Gorakh Nath along with all his followers including Bhairon. Bhairon Nath asked Shree Dhar how he was planning to fulfill 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 depressed 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. Bhairon Nath admitted that the girl had supernatural powers and decided to test her further.
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 followed her to Trikuta Hills. For 9 months Bhairon Nath was searching for the mystic girl in the mountains. While running away from Bhairon, 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 Bhairon located her. Vaishno Devi was then compelled to take the form of Maha Kali when Bhairon 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 Bhairon with such sheer force that his skull fell at a place known as Bhairon Ghati, 2.5 km from the Holy Cave.
In his dying moments, Bhairon realized the futility of his mission and prayed to the deity to forgive him. The Goddess knew that Bhairon’s main intention in attacking her was to achieve salvation. She not only granted Bhairon liberation from the cycle of reincarnation, but also granted him a boon, whereby every devotee 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 Vaishno Devi decided to shed off her human form and assuming the face of a rock she immersed herself into meditation forever. Thus Vaishnavi, in the form of a five and a half feet tall rock with three heads or the Pindies on the top is the ultimate destination of a devotee.
After the Bhandhara, Shree dhar was curious to get to the bottom of the mystery shrouding the magical powers of Vaishnavi. Then one day, he had a dream, The Goddess showed him the vision of her cave and also blessed him with the boon of four sons. Shree dhar, happy once again, set out in search of the cave, on the same path that he had witnessed in a dream. He ultimately reached the cave mouth. He made a daily routine of worshiping 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 worshiping the Goddess Mother Vaishno Devi.