Vaishno Devi (also known as Mata Rani, Trikuta, Ambe and Vaishnavi) is a folk manifestation of the Hindu Mother Goddess, Devi. The words "Maa" and "Mata" are commonly used in India for mother, and thus are often heavily used in connection with Vaishno Devi. Vaishnavi was formed from the combined energies of Parvati, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. The temple is located in Katra, India.
Mother Goddess, Goddess of Hills
|Other names||Vaishnavi, Durga, Mahadevi, Mahamaya, Mata Rani, Ambe, Trikuta, Jagdamba, Bhagwati, Shakti, Sherawali, Ambika, Jyotawali, Pahadawali|
|Affiliation||Durga, Parvati, Lakshmi, Saraswati|
|Abode||Vaishno Devi Temple, Katra, India|
|Mount||Lion and Tiger|
|Parents||Ratnakarsagar and Samriddhi|
Author Abha Chauhan identifies Vaishno Devi with the power of Vishnu as well as the incarnation of Lakshmi. Author Pintchman identifies with great goddess Mahadevi and says Vaishno Devi contains all powers and is associated with the entire creation as Mahadevi. Pintchman further states that, "Pilgrims identify Vaishno Devi with Durga (a form of Lakshmi)— whome Punjabis (and others) also name Sheranwali, "the Lion-rider"— more than with any other goddess". Some Hindus also consider Vaishno Devi as the future bliss of Kalki and born as Satyabhama and will be born as Rama wife of Kalki.
It is said that Bhaironath, a famous Tantric, saw the young Vaishno Devi at an agricultural fair and fell madly in love with her. Vaishno Devi fled into Trikuta hills to escape his amorous advances, later she assumed the form of Mahakali and cut off his head with her sword in a cave. Professor and author Tracy Pintchman narrates the story as, "About nine hundred years ago Vaishno Devi appeared in the form of a young girl and commanded a Brahmin named Shridhar from the village Hansali (next to present day Katra) to hold a feast (bhandara) for local people near Bhumika stream. At the time of feast, Bhaironath, a disciple of Goraknath, appeared and demanded meat and liquor. But Vaishno Devi told him he would get only vegetarian food, since this was a Brahmin's feast. Seeing her, Bhaironath lusted after her. To escape him, she ran away stopping at various places on the trail up the Trikuta mountain. There places are now known as Banganga (Ganga river emerged from arrow), Charan Paduka (Holy footprints), Ardha Kunwari —the place where she is said to have remained for nine months in a cave, — and finally at Bhavan, the cave that is now known as her home. There taking the form of Chamundi (a form of Kali), she beheaded Bhaironath. His body held at the entrance to the cave, and his head landed further up the mountain at a place where a Bhaironath temple is now located. Bhaironath then repented, and the goddess granted him further salvation. In so doing, however, she laid down the condition that unless pilgrims coming for her darshana did not also get his darshana— that is, darshana of his head— then their pilgrimage would not be fruitful. Vaishno Devi later manifested into 3 small rocks (pindikas) and stays there to the present day. Shridhar began doing puja to the pindikas at the cave, and his descendants continue to do so even today".
Professor and author Manohar Sajnani says, According to Hindu beliefs, the original abode of Vaishno Devi was Ardha Kunwari, a place about halfway between Katra town and the cave. She meditated in the cave for 9 months just like how a baby stays in its mother's womb for 9 months. It is said that when Bhairav Nath ran after Vaishno Devi to catch her. The Devi reached near a cave in the hill, she called up Hanuman and told him that "I would do penance in this cave for nine months, till then you should not allow Bhairav Nath to enter the cave." Hanuman obeyed the mother's orders. Bhairavnath was kept outside this cave and today this holy cave is known as 'Ardha Kunwari'.
Pilgrims travel from the city of Jammu in Jammu and Kashmir to the village of Katra which is well connected by helicopter, rail and road. From Katra, starts the uphill journey to the Vaishno Devi Temple on foot. While on the way near the Trikuta mountain is the Banganga River. It is said that Vaishno Devi shot an arrow at the ground and brought forth the Ganga river to quench Hanuman's thirst. After Hanuman disappeared, Vaishno Devi washed her hair in the water. The Banganga river is also known as the Balganga river, since "Bal" means hair and "Ganga" is synonymous with the Holy Ganga river. Pilgrims must have a bath in the Banganga river to prove their purity. After Banganga is the Charan Paduka temple. Vaishno Devi stood on a rock to look at Bhairavnath before her escape and this rock supposedly contained her footprints. Her footprints are worshipped in this temple. After having a darshan of Charan Paduka, Pilgrims come across the Ardha Kunwari Temple. Vaishno Devi meditated in this cave for 9 months, just like how a baby stays in its mother's womb for 9 months, to escape Bhairav Nath. After having a darshan of Ardha Kunwari, the pilgrims go to the Bhairav Nath temple. It is said that after Vaishno Devi killed Bhairav Nath, Bhairav Nath realised his mistake and pleaded for forgiveness. Vaishno Devi blessed him by saying that if pilgrims did not have darshan of his head, their pilgrimage will not be fruitful. Pilgrims have a darshan of Bhairavnath's head before going to Bhavan, Vaishno Devi's Temple. Pilgrims go inside the temple to have a darshan of the 3 pindikas (rocks) which represent Vaishno Devi.
The Vaishno Devi Temple is an important Hindu temple dedicated to Vaishno Devi located in Katra at the Trikuta Mountains within the Indian Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The temple is one of the 108 Shakti Peethas dedicated to Durga, who is worshipped as Vaishno Devi. It is one of the most visited pilgrimage centers of India. Every year millions of visitors visit the temple. During festivals like Navaratri, the count even increases to one crore visitors. Vaishno Devi Temple is one of the richest temples in India. Authors Michael Barnett and Janice Gross Stein says, "Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Jammu has an annual income of about $16 million, mainly from offerings by devotees".
Navaratri and Diwali are the two most prominent festivals celebrated in the Vaishno Devi Temple. The temple was included in the Jammu and Kashmir state government Act No. XVI/1988, and known as Shri Mata Vaishno devi Shrine Act. The committee nominated by the state government administers the temple and has nine members on its board.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Vaishno Devi.|