Mata Vaishno Devi Temple, Jammu (vaishno-devi-temple-jammu) is the holy shrine of the Divine Mother and is situated right in a beautiful, ancient cave excessive up at the sacred Trikoota Mountain. The Divine Mother rests at this location in the exalted shape of Vaishno Mata who’s believed to be an embodiment of Goddess Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, and Mahasaraswati. Vaishno Devi Temple, Jammu is held with utmost regard through the Shaktas (worshippers of God as Divine Mother), the pious and blessed shrine of Vaishno Mata is one of the Shakti Peethas or home of ultimate strength in the Hindus (vaishno-devi-temple-jammu).
The first mention of the Mother Goddess:
The first mention of the Mother Goddess is in the epic Mahabharata. When the armies of Pandavas and Kauravas were arrayed on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Arjuna the chief warrior of Pandavas upon the advice of Sri Krsna meditated upon the Mother Goddess and sought Her blessings for victory. At this time Arjuna addressed the Mother Goddess as ‘Jambookatak Chityaishu Nittyam Sannihitayale’, which means ‘you who always dwell in the temple on the slope of the mountain in Jamboo(probably referring to the present day Jammu).
Previously only one natural tunnel for in and out movement was for the cave. In 1977, a second tunnel built for the devotees. In 1998, a third cave was built. A smooth stone, or svarūpa, in the shrine, is the physical manifestation of the Goddess. Mahāsarasvatī, Mahālakshmī and Mahākālī,. The three aspects of the goddess, manifested here. There are three-stone lumps called pindis.
The cave is almost one hundred feet long and 5200 feet above sea level. Symbols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses fill the cave. Pilgrims greeted and surrounded by them as they enter. The devotees reached through a pool of water to the pindis,. Water flows continuously out of the pindis and out of the cave.
How the vaishno-devi-temple-jammu came into existence:
The temple of Mata Vaishno Devi built many centuries ago according to research carried out by geologists. Belief is that Mata Vaishno Devi had a bodily form as a lovely princess in Treta Yuga as a Shakti of Mother Parvati, Saraswati and Lakshmi for the welfare of the universe. She carried out atonement in the cave on Trikuta Mountain. When the time came, her body merged into the stellar form of the three divine energies Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, and Mahasaraswati.
Of all of the famous stories of Mata Vaishno Devi, the latest one is that of her keen devotee, Shridhar, who lived approximately seven centuries ago. Shridhar and his wife were great devotees to the Mother Goddess. Once, Shridhar received a divine instruction in his dream to arrange a Bhandara (public ceremonial dinner) in Her honor. Because of his poor economic condition, Shridhar failed to arrange enough groceries for the general public ceremonial dinner. He is concerned about the disgrace and guilt he will be subject to for failing to feed the visitors the subsequent day.
Unable to sleep the entire night, Shridhar resigned himself to destiny. In the morning, villagers started out arriving at the small residence of Shridhar to attain the feast. To Shridhar’s surprise, Goddess Vaishno Devi appeared in his hut in the guise of a small girl. The feast was organized and served to the villagers, as per Her Will.
The villagers had satisfied with the meals except for Bhairon Nath, who was one of the visitors. When he asked for a meal of animal meal from Shridhar, Vaishno Mata refused to oblige Bhairon Nath on Shridhar’s behalf. Bhairon felt insulted, Bhairon attempted to catch hold of the divine little girl however didn’t do so. The girl vanished.
This incident left others shocked, and Shridhar grief-stricken. One night, Vaishno Mata appeared in Shridhar’s dream and guided him to a cave on Trikuta Mountain which homes her historic shrine. Shridhar gladly followed instructions and found the holy shrine. He spent the rest of his life in Her service. People everywhere came to know thereafter about the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi.
The divine call:
The popular belief is that unless Mata Vaishno Devi invites you to visit her, it is impossible to have her darshan. The Bulava (or Divine Call) of the Mother all that necessary and the rest taken care of by Mata Vaishno Devi. Hence, rich or poor, wise or ignorant, men or women await Her Bulava to go to Vaishno Devi Temple, Jammu.
The Route to the vaishno-devi shrine:
Pilgrims and keen devotees of the Mother Goddess brave the exhausting 24-kilometer-long trek (up and down) to reach the shrine. The route to the shrine starts at Ban Ganga in Katra. It believed to have sprung up from the earth when Vaishno Mata shot up an arrow from her divine bow many centuries ago.
Though tough, the roof-covered paths, stairways, water coolers, seating areas, pantries, and food shops provided by the Shrine Board throughout the course gives some relief to the devotees on their way to the temple.
Timing for Darshan: 5. AM to 10. PM.
A very long queue of devotees is always a possibility if you are trying for the morning darshan. After 11.AM, the crowd gets thinner. Services like bath and toilet facilities for both men and women are available free of cost outside the main shrine area.
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