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Vaishanav Devee

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Vaishnav Devee Temple
Culminated from  Vaishno Devi

Vaishnav Devee temple is a very famous Devee Temple. She resides in a cave located in the folds of the three peaked mountain named Trikoot Parvat. The Holy Cave attracts millions of devotees every year. This is due to the unflinching faith of the devotees who throng the Shrine from all parts of India and abroad. The Holy Cave of the Mother is situated at an altitude of 5200 ft. The Yaatree have to undertake a trek of nearly 12 km from the base camp at Kataraa. At the culmination of their pilgrimage, the Yaatree are blessed with the Darshan of the Maa Vaishanav Devee inside the Sanctum Sanctorum - the Holy Cave. These Darshan are in the shape of three natural rock formations called the Pindee. There are no statues or idols inside the Cave.

It is not known as when the pilgrimage was started to this place, but the place is said to be a million years old. Vaidik literature gives no reference to the worship of any female deity, although the Mountain Trikoot does find its mention in Rig Ved, the oldest of the four Ved. In fact the practice of worshipping Shakti, largely started in the Pauranik period.

Earliest References
Its first mention may be found in Mahaabhaarat, when the armies of Paandav and Kaurv were arrayed in the battlefield of Kuru Kshetra, Arjun upon advice of Krishn meditated upon the Mother Goddess and sought Her blessings for victory. This is when Arjun addressed the Mother Goddess as "Jambookatak Chityaishu Nityam Sannihitalaye", which means "you who always dwell in the temple on the slope of the mountain in Jamboo" (probably referring to the present day Jammoo).  Just adjacent to the Trikoot Mountain on one mountain, and overlooking the Holy Cave are five stone structures, which are believed to be the rock symbols of the five Paandav. A reference of Guru Gobind Singh who is said to have gone there via Purmandal is also found.

Some traditions believe this Shrine to be the holiest of all Shakti Peeth because the skull of Satee fell here. Others believe that her right arm fell here. But some scriptures do not agree with it. They do agree that at a place called Gandarbal in Kashmeer, the right arm of Satee fell. Nevertheless, in this Holy Cave one does find stone remains of a human hand, popularly known as Varad Hast (the hand that grants boons and blessings).

The Discovery of the Shrine
This shrine was discovered about 700 years ago by some Pandit Shridhar at whose place Maataa had helped organize a Bhandaaraa. When she left amidst the Bhandaaraa to escape Bhairon Naath, Pandit Shridhar is said to have felt bad as if he had lost everything in his life. He felt immense grief and gave up the intake of food or even water and closed himself in a room of his house, fervently praying for Vaishnav Devee to reappear. It is then that Vaishnavee Devee appeared in his vision (dream) and told him to search for her at the Holy Cave situated amidst the folds of the Trikoot Mountain. She showed him the way to the Holy Cave and insisted him to break his fast. Pandit Shridhar then went on to discover the Holy Cave in the mountains. Every time he seemed to lose the way, she guided him in his dreams and finally he reached his destination. Upon entering the Cave he found a rock form with three heads atop it. At that moment Vaishnav Devee appeared before him in all her glory. Another version says that the Supreme Energies of Saraswatee Jee, Lakshmee Jee and Kaalee Jee appeared in the Holy Cave and introduced him to the three heads (now known as the Holy Pindee) of the rock form along with various other identification marks in the Holy Cave. She blessed him with a boon of four sons and a right to worship her manifestation and asked him to spread the glory of the Holy Shrine all over. Pandit Shridhar then spent his remaining life in the service of Maa at the Holy Cave.

The Legends Behind the Shrine
(1) When Devee was busy in killing Daanav, her three manifestations - Lakshmee, Saraswatee and Durgaa got together and pooled their collective Tej and spiritual powers. A stunningly beautiful girl appeared from the place where this Tej gathered. The girl asked them - "Why have I been created?" The three Devee said to her - "We have created you so that you can live on Earth and uphold the Dharm. You go and take birth in the house of Ratnaakar who lives in Southern India and who is a great devotee of ours. Grow there spiritually to the high level of consciousness. Once you have reached the appropriate level of consciousness, you will merge into Vishnu and become one with Him.

As a result Ratnaakar had a beautiful daughter in his house. They named her Vaishnavee. She had an insatiable hunger for knowledge since her childhood. Soon she learnt meditation, left all material comforts and went to forest to do Tapasyaa. When Raam was in exile, He visited this girl. She had recognized Him immediately that He was no ordinary human being, but was the incarnation of Vishnu. She asked Him if she could merge with Him immediately. Raam did not think that that time was proper for her to merge with Him, so He consoled her that he would come to her later after His exile and then she will be able to recognize Him and merge with Him. Raam ket His promise, He returned to her after he had killed Raavan, but He met her in the guise of an old man. Unfortunately Vaishnavee could not recognize Him and felt very distraught. Raam again consoled her that it was not the appropriate time to merge with the Creator, she will merge when, in Kali Yug, Kalki Avataar will incarnate. He also advised her to live in the foothills of Trikoot Hills in an Aashram and to elevate her lever of spirituality. He blessed her that she would bless people to get rid of their poor state and sufferings.

As she lived there and started blessing people her fame and glory spread widely. Meanwhile a Taantrik Gorakhnaath had the vision of Raam and Vaishnavee episode in the back of the time frame and became curious to know whether Vaishnavee will be able to that spiritual development or not. So he sent his most trusted disciple Bhairon Naath to find out about this. Bhairon Naath came there and kept an eye on her activities. He noticed that although she was a Tapswinee, still she always carried a bow and arrow with her, and was always surrounded by Langoor (apes) and ferocious looking lion. But seeing her he lost in her beauty and propose her to marry him.

Meanwhile a very great devotee of Vaishno Devee organized a Bhandaaraa in which all the village people, including Gorakhnaath Jee, came. During this Bhandaaraa (group feeding), Gorakhnaath Jee tried to catch hold Vaishnavee, but she escaped. She left her old place and went to over the hills to continue her Tapasyaa. However Bhairon Naath followed her to her residence. Vaishnav Devee stopped for a while at Baan Gangaa (present Charan Paadukaa) and Adhkwaaree, finally reached the Holy Cave and stayed there. When Bhairon Naath did not abandone following Vaishanavee, she had to kill him and this happened just outside the mouth of the cave. The severed head fell on a nearby hilltop. He realized after his death that his mission failed and asked for Vaishnavee's forgiveness. The kind Vaishnavee granted him boon that one will have to do his Darshan after Devee's Darshan, then only the devotee's Yaatraa will be completed and fructified. Meanwhile Devee left her human form and transformed into a stone forever and continued her meditation. Thus Vaishnavee, in the form of a five and a half feet tall rock with three heads or the Pindee on the hilltop is the ultimate destination of a devotee.

(2) Legend of Shreedhar
Another most popular legend associated with this shrine is of Shreedhar Braahman who lived in a village named Hansaalee in the foothills of Trikoot Parvat. He was devout devotee of Devee in spite of being poor. One day Devee appeared in his dream in a Kanyaa Roop (in a girl of up to the age of 9 years old) and asked him to do Bhandaaraa. So Shreedhar organized the Bhandaaraa and all the villagers were invited. He went door to door to ask for food help to complete this task. Only a few of them complied with his request, while others taunted him to take up such a big task without having enough resources to feed. Shreedhar was very worried about the food. On the night of the Bhandaaraa, he could not sleep even for a moment. At last he left everything on fate and got up to face the day. He sat down for his morning worship. By the noon his guests started coming to have food. Finding him worshipping they themselves made comfortable wherever they found the place. But surprisingly enough many people found he place in his hut and still a lots of space was empty.

Shreedhar was really astonished to see all this but still feared how to say to them that he would not be able to feed them all. But at the same time he saw Vaishnav Devee coming out of his hut and started feeding the guests. All guests had the food of their choice and the Bhandaaraa was a very successful event with a little disturbance created by Bhairon Naath, the disciple of Gorakhnaath. After the Bhandaaraa Shreedhar had a curiosity to know about the powers Vaishnav Devee had. He began asking young Vaishnavee about those powers, but Vaishnav Devee was not there to reply him. He started feeling an emptiness in his heart as well as in his life. Then one day Vaishanv Devee appeared in his dream and showed him the way of her cave and blessed him with four sons. Shreedhar got very happy, so he set out to have Darshan of his Devee. After finding the cave he decided to spend his life in the worship of Devee.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/03
Updated on 12/19/12