Mata Vaishno Devi

The goddess Vaishno Devi fulfils the desires of all her devotees and has made her abode in the mountains of 'Trikuta Hills' of J & K state, in a beautiful cave, in the form of three 'Pindis' namely Maha-Kali, Maha-Laxmi and Maha-Saraswati, Every year, millions of people visit the holy shrine to attain & fulfil their desires. It is believed that arm of Sati had fallen at this place.

Way to reach the shrine- Jammu is connected by train to all major states of India. It is about 13- 14 hours rail travel distance from Delhi. From Jammu, the visitors have to proceed by bus up to Katra. The journey is about 2 hours through zigzag roads cutting across many hill-locks. The pil- grims enjoy travelling by bus as many picturesque places fall in between Jammu & Katra. The distance between Jammu & Katra is about 52 kms. From Katra onwards the pilgrims have to travel up to shrine on foot or by horse/pony. The shrine is lo- cated in the mountains at a distance of 14 kms from Katra. Healthy person travel the entire route in 4 hours. It is essential for every visitor to obtain a Yatra-Slip from the tourist-reception centre, Katra. No payment is to be made for slip. Pilgrims who proceed further, without obtaining slip, have to return back from Ban Ganga. No pilgrim is al- lowed to travel beyond Ban-Ganga without yatra slip.

History of Mata Vaishno Devi

Whenever righteousness and virtue has been under pressure of demoniac forces, the cosmic mother has overpowered such forces by taking dif- ferent 'Rupas' -(Different supernatural forms or shapes) and saved her devotees. In the beginning of the universe, Maha-Shakti was created out of all supernatural forces (Tejas) of gods united into one. The same later took birth as Maha-kali, Maha-Laxmi and Maha-Saraswati. All the three 'Rupas' represent the human characteristics Viz Raj, Tarn and Satva-gun.

In Treta-yug when Ravana, Kumb-Karan, Khar- Dooshan, Tadka and other demons tormented the virtuous men, the goddess decided to create a divine form for their protection. This gave birth to a beautiful divine girl. The divine girl enquired of Devas, the cause and reason of her birth. The divine forces told her that she had been created to protect Dharma and rekindle spirit of religion. She was asked to go to South India and take birth at the home of Ratnakar Sagar as a girl-child. Girl was named Trikuta. Later the same girl was cal- led Vaishno because of her taking birth from Lord Vishnu's lineage. The religion propogated by this goddess girl was called Vaishno-Dharm.

Within a short duration the goddess attracted the attention of gods, saints and holy persons. The fame of her divine power and miracle spread far and wide. People started visiting the abode of divine girl to get benediction. After some time Trikuta sought permission from her father for taking penance on sea shore. She prayed to Lord Vishnu in the form of Rama and waited for Shri Ram Chancier ji while meditating. When Lord Ram Chander ji reached the sea-shore alongwith his army in search of Sita, his eyes fell on this divine girl in deep meditation. Ram ji enquired of Trikuta ji, her name and reason for penance. Devi replied that she had accepted Sh. Ram Chander as her husband by mind and heart. On hearing this Ram Chander ji told her that he had vowed to be faith- ful to wife. However, Ram ji wished that penance of Trikuta should not go waste and unfruitful. Therefore he said to her, "I will definitely come to see you in a disguised form. If you can recognize me at that time then I will accept you."

It is said that on his return from Lanka, Lord Rama went to see the girl in the form of an old monk (Sadhu). Trikuta could not recognize god. However Lord assured the girl that in 'Kaliyuga' he will manifest himself as 'Kaiki' god incarnate and will marry her. He asked Trikuta to meditate on god in the cave found in Trikuta range of Manik mountains, situated in north India. He said that Trikuta will become immortal for ever. The whole world will sing her praise and pray. Later Trikuta will become famous as 'Vaishno Devi'. Monkeys will be her body guards.

It is believed, that daughter of "Ratnakar Sagar' Vaishno goddess, who was born by the benedic- tion of gods and goddesses, is adorning the holy cave since "Treta Yug'. The early stories of Purans bear testimony to it. With the passage of time, many more stories about the mother goddess emerged.

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