Thursday, 13 August 2020

Mata Vaishno Devi Temple

The Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu attracts lakhs of devotees from across the country and the world over every year. Vaishno Devi Mandir is a sacred Hindu temple located in Katra at the Trikuta hills in Jammu & Kashmir. It is said, till you are not called by the diety, however much you try, one will not be able to visit the shrine. And many devotees after visiting once, visit regularly.

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Vaishno Devi is located in the state of Jammu & Kashmir and is accessible from Jammu. It’s located in Trikuta  hills about 13 km from Katra. It is also known as Mata Rani, Trikuta, Ambe and Vaishnavi, the embodiment of Mother Goddess. The words Maa, Amma and Mata are commonly used in India for mother. Hence she is called Mata Vaishno Devi. It is believed that Goddess Vaishnovi was formed from the combined energies of Goddess Parvati/Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati. She is considered to be the warrior form of Mahalaxmi.

According to Hindu beliefs, in the Treta Yuga, when the earth was overburdened by evil, sin and tyrannical rule of the demons, Goddess Vaishno Devi was created, when Gauri, Lakshmi and Saraswati decided to combine their energies to rid the earth of impending doom. From the collective energy of the three Goddesses, appeared the eight armed Goddess Vaishno Devi and she was requested to reside on Earth, so that the evil is kept at bay. She chose to incarnate as a human, a woman, as Vaishnovi.

As a child, Vaishnovi devoted herself in the service of Lord Vishnu, and continued to do the same as she grew up in to adulthood. On reaching a marriageable age, she left home to perform service and devotion to please and win over Lord Vishnu as her husband. Years passed by, and as an answer to her prayers, Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Lord Rama. She learned from him that he was already married and was searching for his wife, Sita, who was abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka. However seeing his ardent devotee distraught, Rama promised her that he would return to her one day. And if she recognized him, then she could marry him.

Rama went on to rescue Sita and become the king of Ayodhya. All the while Vaishnavi waited for his return. One day, she was approached by an old, haggard man who asked the beautiful Vaishnavi to be his wife. She however, refused his proposal, thinking of him as undesirable for his age and looks. She failed to recognize the old man who was none other than Lord Rama, who had come to keep his end of the promise. However, the harsh penance of the Goddess can't go unfulfilled, so Lord Rama granted her the boon that in his tenth incarnation of Lord Kalki during Kaliyuga, he would marry her and asked her to wait for him till his tenth incarnation on the Trikuta hills. He even gave her a bow and two quivers of arrows and a troop of his monkey army for her protection.

Rama left, and Vaishnavi continued to spend years in meditation, moving from place to place, solving the problems of all who asked for her help, with her Siddhis. Her help to locals threatened the popularity of a local tantrik who sent his disciple Bhairon Nath to find out more about her. But Bhairav Nath was stunned by her beauty and lustfully stalked her wherever she went.

In order to escape his unwanted attention, Vaishnavi entered a cave and continued her meditation there, for nine months, as a child rests in its mother's womb. When  later Bhairon Nath discovered her place of hiding, he attempted to hunt her down again, with an intention of forcing himself upon her, Vaishnavi suddenly appeared as Goddess Mahakali, and severed Bhairav Nath’s head with her sword.

After she severed his head, Bhairav Nath realized his grave mistake and begged her for forgiveness. His head had fallen far from his body, but the merciful Goddess Vaishno Devi promised him that he would forever be enshrined there and that he would be her guardian from then on. Vaishno Devi abandoned her rage and returned to the form of Vaishnavi, and re-entered the cave, where she assumed the form of three rocks and resides there to date. Each rock is representative of Saraswati, Mahalakshmi and Mahakali. This shrine is lovingly called ‘Vaishno Devi’, where millions of devotees go every year, to seek the blessings of the Mother Goddess.

Vaishno Devi is known by many names. Devotees address her with reverence by different names. Her most popular  names are as follows:

Pahadawali - The Goddess who lives upon a mountain.

Jyotawali - The Goddess who shines like an oil lamp and spreads light everywhere.

Sherawali - The Goddess who rides upon a lion or tiger.

Latawali - The Goddess with long locks of hair.

Meherawali - The Goddess who is always merciful.

Ever since the inception of the Shrine Board in1986, the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi has witnessed an ever-increasing number of devotees. The yatra that stood at 13.96 lakh devotees in the year 1986 has increased to 104.95 lakh (10.4 million) devotees in the year 2012, 93.24 lakh in the year 2013, 78.03 lakh in the year 2014, 77.76 lakh devotees in the year 2015, 77.23 lakh devotees in the year 2016 and 85.87 lakh in the year 2018.

 Now devotees can take a helicopter ride to the shrine. Vaishno Devi helicopter price:

When you book through the official site, helicopter tickets are priced at INR 1045 per person per side from Katra to Sanjhichhat. So, if you book for both the sides, it will cost you INR 2090 per person.

 Vaishno Devi Ropeway To Cover 1 Hour Journey in 5 Minutes and 100 Rupees. The ropeway can carry 800 people every hour and will be operational one way only. ... According to statistical data, only 30 per cent of pilgrims visiting the Vaishno Devi temple go forward to the Bhairon Baba Mandir which is due to the steep climb. Plan a visit and seek the Goddess’s blessing.

Also read: The Mookambika Devi Temple     Dharmashtala

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(This is an amazing and touching story!)

Footprint

A young boy around 22-23 years, fairly decently dressed, wearing shoes entered the shoe shop. The shoe shop owner asked, how can I help you.

The boy replied - I need a pair of good slippers for my mother.

As the shopkeeper showed him a few varieties and suggested one of them. And asked whether his mother is out, call her in.

The boy said, my mother isn't here and proceeded to take out a folded paper from his purse. He opened it, and there was an outline of both her feet.

The shopkeeper said - had you got her size, it would have been sufficient.

The boy narrated - She lives in the village. And after my father died, she would work to bring me up, toil barefoot in the fields and construction sites and save every penny for food and to send me to school. She has never worn a slipper for decades, so how could I get the size, so drew the outline of her feet.

With great difficulty I finished school and later junior college. And luckily I got this job in the city.

And I had decided, the first salary I get, I will gift my mother a pair of slippers. This weekend I plan to go home and return on Monday.

The shopkeeper was touched and he told the boy, this slipper costs Rs 800. Should I show you a cheaper one. He said, it's ok.

As he was packing it, the shopkeeper again asked the boy, can you you afford it.

The boy said, yes. I will take it.

Baffled, the shopkeeper asked him, how much do you earn, what's the salary.

The boy with a smile replied, I get Rs 12,000. And from this, I send Rs 3,000 to my mother, spend around Rs 7,000 on rent and food. I am left with Rs 2,000, some of which goes for travelling expenses and I try to save Rs 1,000.

The shopkeeper was touched by his innocence and honesty. He handed over the packed box to the boy, and also handed over another box saying, tell your mother this is a gift from her brother. Once your slipper wears out, let her use this.

As the boy was leaving, the shopkeeper asked, can you give me the paper with the footprints. The boy handed it over to him.

And the shopkeeper asked, what's your mother's name.

The boy said - Laxmi and happily walked away thanking the shopkeeper.

The shopkeeper opened the folded paper, touched the footprints and said to himself, you made a man of your young son!

He kept the folded paper in the cash drawer.

Next day, his young daughter visited the shop, while checking the cash drawer found the folded paper.

She asked her father, whose footprints are these. And he simply said - Laxmi's. She was here yesterday.

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Shiv Ling at Amarnath

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