Mata Vaishno Devi


Mata Vaishno Devi


*KanyaLal Raina 


Many Indo-Canadian devotees of Mata Vaishno Devi who have migrated many years ago mainly from Guyana, Caribbean, Fiji, Mauritius and other parts of the globe and are now well settled in Canada; want to make a pilgrimage to the holy cave of Mata Vaishno Devi along with their family and friends.

People who know me as a person belonging to Kashmir have been asking me to guide them to reach to this shrine. Most of them here in Canada do not know that the abode of the holy Mother falls in Jammu region of the state. The Holy Cave Shrine of Maa Vaishno Devi is situated in a beautiful recess of the Holy Trikuta Mountains forming a part of the lower Himalayas in the State of Jammu and Kashmir located at nearly 5200 ft. above sea level.

Vaishno Devi Mandir is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Shakti. Vaishno Devi, also known as Mata Rani and Vaishnavi, is a manifestation of the Mother Goddess. The temple is near the town of Katra, in Udhampur district. It is one of the most revered places of worship in Northern India. Million of pilgrims visit the temple every year and is the second most visited religious shrine in India, after Tirupati Balaji Mandir. The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board maintains this shrine.

'Vaishnavi' means the one who is related to lord "Vishnu''. Goddess Vaishnavi is the manifestation of the collective spiritual strengths of Mata Maha Kali, Mata Maha Lakshmi and Mata Maha Saraswati. It is described in Durga Sapatshati that the goddess was born as a young girl of extraordinary beauty and strength, out of the collectively pooled 'Tejas' of various 'Devtas' and three lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shankar. The immediate purpose of the creation of the goddess was the annihilation of Asura (Devil) Mahishasura. However another purpose of her creation was that she might usher on earth an era of pious and ascetic life so that the peace could prevail upon the world and she through her penance could rise to higher levels of spirituality and ultimately merge with Vishnu.

It is said Vaishnavi, after immense hardships reached the foot of the Trikuta Hills and after setting up her ashram there she began to meditate. As predicted by Lord Rama, her glory spread far and wide and people began to flock to her Ashram to seek her blessings. As the time passed, a Tantrik named Gorakh Nath who had a vision of the episode between Lord Rama and Vaishnavi in the retrospective time frame, became curious to find out whether Vaishnavi has been able to attain a high level of spirituality or not. He, therefore, sent his most able disciple 'Bhairon Nath' to find out the truth.

Bhairon Nath on locating the ashram started observing Vaishnavi secretly and realised that though a 'Sadhvi' she always carried bow and arrows with her and was always surrounded by langoors (apes) and a ferocious looking lion. Bhairon Nath was enamoured by Vaishnavi's extraordinary beauty and losing all good sense he began to pester Vaishnavi to marry him. Meanwhile a staunch devotee of Mata Sridhar organised a Bhandara (Community meal) in which the whole village and Guru Gorakh Nath along with all his followers including Bhairon were invited. During the course of Bhandara Bhairon Nath attempted to grab Vaishnavi but she tried her best to daunt him. On failing to do so, Vaishnavi decided to flee away into the mountains to continue her 'Tapasaya' undisturbed. Bhairon Nath however chased her to her destination. The goddess after halting at Banganga, Charan Paduka, and Adhkwari, finally reached the holy cave Shrine. When Bhairon Nath continued to follow her despite the goddess trying to avoid a confrontation, the goddess was compelled to kill him. On arriving at the Holy Cave at Darbar, she assumed the form of Maha Kali and cut off Bhairon Nath's head which was flung up the mountain by the force of the blow and fell at the place where the Bhairon Temple is now located. The boulder at the mouth of the Holy Cave according to the legend is the petrified torso of Bhairon Nath who was granted divine forgiveness by the benevolent Mata in his dying moments.

The Goddess Mata Vaishno Devi's abode is in 100 feet long cave with a very narrow opening. The holy cold and crystal clear water washes the lotus feet of the Mata's "Pindian". There are three natural pindies representing Maha Sarswati, Maha Lakshmi, Maha Kali, which represent creative, preservative, and destructive aspects of the Super Power. It is an ancient shrine whose reference is found in the Vedas and ancient scriptures.

There is a common faith among the folk that Goddess-Vaishno sends a 'Call' to her devotees: and that once a person receives it, wherever he or she is, marches towards the holy shrine of the great Goddess. I along with my family have also visited this holy shrine first time in 1979 using the old track which was very difficult to trek upon. No lights were there en-route to shrine. Since then however, more elaborate arrangements have been made as well a new pathway/road constructed to reach the shrine. The new road is quite wide and tiled. Besides, the whole path is lit up every night by powerful sodium vapour lamps. To help the yatries during the pilgrimage, the Shrine Board has operationalized information booths at various locations, which are open 24-hours. Yatries can find/ obtain important information about various aspects of the Yatra. Yatries are unaware that this journey shall take them to this awesome wilderness and winding pathway of 14 kilometres high, a place so holy and sacred, a place of mystery and adventure scarcely known to most in modern world. High, High to the north, amidst snow capped mountains and sprawling forests arise from within the holy shrine of Maa Vaishno Devi.

It is no wonder that every hour, every day, every year a mass of humanity surges up steep pathways that cut across the hillside for mile after mile. Popular belief holds that anybody who walks the Himalayan trail to her abode to ask for a boon rarely goes back disappointed. There are many who journey here year after year to pay obeisance regardless of their faith or belief, creed or class, caste or religion, for Mata Vaishno Devi transcends all such barriers.

To go to Mata Vaishno shrine from Canada, first you have to travel to India. Before that you must check with the office of the Consulate General of India in your region for visa and travel requirements. One can go to India by Air or by Sea. Presuming that you want to go by Air, the first choice of landing airport should be Amritsar or New Delhi. Alternatively you can land in any other city which has an international airport. After reaching India, get your travelling cheque en-cashed to Indian rupees and keep plenty of small denomination of currency in hand as well as coins. Keep the traction vouchers. You have many options to travel to Jammu. You can take a flight or a train or go by any road transport. It is advisable to book your passages in advance. Pawan Hans operates two flights daily from Jammu and 5 flights from Katra to Shrine during summer. But these flights are not regular and hence must be re-confirmed with authorities. The Town Katra is 50 Kms away from Jammu and 35 Kms from District HQ Udhampur and is linked by road.

From Jammu airport or city you can hire a local taxi to Katra. Katra is the starting point of the yatra. When you reach Katra, first thing you should do is obtain a yatra slip from the Yatra Registration Counter at the Tourism Reception Centre, which is near Katra Bus Stand. Without an authentic yatra slip, crossing of Banganga check post will not be allowed. The Yatra Slip is absolutely free but is necessary to commence the Yatra. The devotees of Mata have to cover about 14 km. of terrain on foot to reach the Mata’s Darbar. Howsoever difficult the passage may be: the difficult ascents, with innumerable stairs, are accomplished on foot by those who had never walked even small distances at their homes. A supernatural power seems to draw them through the mountain and they climb up those great heights step by step, chanting 'Prem se bolo, JAI MATA DI'.

Those who have problems in climbing on the mountains can hire the services of a pony or dandi (palenquin). Pithus (local persons who carry load on their backs) can be hired for carrying the children on shoulders. All the devotees are advised to carry minimum personal luggage, but those who do have some luggage may hire local Pithu (persons) who can carry the luggage /weight on their backs for you. It is advised that you should avail of the services of only registered people be it the pithu, pony or the dandiwalla and keep his token for the period he is engaged. Refreshments like biscuits, cold-drinks tea, coffee, milk, mineral water, etc. are available along the way at refreshment Units of the Shrine Board. Nearly all of these units are located at carefully selected locations from where one can have a panoramic view of the valley. They are also known as View Points. There are a total of 12 such view points. 9 of these refreshment units (or view points) are located on the old track while 3 are located on the alternate track to Bhawan. All the items offered at these view points are on a no-profit basis thus ensuring proper quality and value for the money paid by the pilgrims.

For the convenience of the pilgrims, the Shrine Board offers free as well as rented accommodation at Jammu, Katra and also along the Holy Track. At Jammu, accommodation is available at Vaishnavi Dham and Saraswati Dham complexes located right next to Jammu Tawi Railway Station. At Katra, accommodation is available in the Niharika complex, situated next to the main Bus Stand. Accommodation is also available at Adhkuwari, Sanjhichat and Bhawan. On reaching Bhawan, show your Yatra Slip at the Registration Office and obtain the Batch no. provided on the slip. This number is important as it will determine your place in the queue for darshan.

On reaching Bhawan, have a bath and change your clothes. Be sure to get your luggage and leather items booked in the cloak rooms and obtain the receipt. Free cloak room facilities are available at the main Bhawan complex also. There are at least two cloak rooms which are functional round the clock. There is a cloak room located just opposite to the main queue complex. This cloak room can be used for depositing shoes, belts, combs and all other items that are not allowed in the Holy cave. In addition, another cloak room is functional in Sridhar Bhawan. Yatries can deposit their entire luggage here before proceeding for Darshans. However, yatries are advised not to keep their cash, jewellery, valuables or electronic items amongst the deposited luggage.

Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has its own no profit no loss shops at Bhawan known as Bhaint Shop where Prashad/Bhaints offerings are available at a fair price. Hence the pilgrims are not required to buy offerings at Katra and carry them all the way to Bhawan. Beautifully packed Bhaints in eco-friendly jute bags are available in the Bhaint shop at Bhawan at reasonable rates. The Bhaints are available in the denominations of Rs. 11, Rs. 21 and Rs. 31. The Shrine Board has also got prepared gold and silver coins of the Holy Pindies on one side and that of Goddess Durga on the other. These coins are available at the Prashad counter just outside the Holy Cave and at all the banks at Bhawan.

*Kanayalal Raina is a Brampton based writer who contributes regularly to various Canadian publications. He is working as Executive Director at Canada Hindu Heritage Subscribe to USA TODAY - 8 weeks for $14Centre in Canada. An automobile Engineer and MBA (Mktg) by profession he is providing consultancy on Project Management, Financing and Marketing.

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Jay mata rani hm sb pr apna aasirwaad bnae rkhiye.meri or unki job lga dijiye bhut acchi shadi s phle,please us.
Added By reena yadav
My name is Devendra and I am one of the many bhakts of Shiva aavtari Guru Gorakshnath ji. We are a group who are trying to pass the correct story for Mata Vaishno devi and Guru Gorakshnathji. We are contacting multiple websites, Many of them have already made minor changes to their website as per our request. however due to character limit I cannot type the story here. If you can mail me your email id I will mail you the story. Thanks
Added By Devendra Parmar
My name is Devendra and I am one of the many bhakts of Shiva aavtari Guru Gorakshnath ji. We are a group who are trying to pass the correct story for Mata Vaishno devi and Guru Gorakshnathji. We are contacting multiple websites, Many of them have already made minor changes to their website as per our request. however due to character limit I cannot type the story here. If you can mail me your email id I will mail you the story. Thanks
Added By Devendra Parmar