Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji resides in a Holy Cave located in the folds of the three peaked mountain named Trikuta .The Holy Cave attracts millions of devotees every year. In fact, the number of Yatris visiting the Holy Shrine annually now exceeds one crore. This is due to the unflinching faith of the devotees who throng the Shrine from all parts of India and abroad.
Geological studies indicate that the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi is almost a million years old. Though the Vedic literature doesn't refer to any goddess, however one can find the mention of Trikuta hills in Rigveda - the oldest of the four Vedas.
There are different versions of the origin of Vaishno Devi available, but according to the most popular version, the shrine of Vaishno Devi was discovered about 700 years back by Pandit Shridhar. According to the popular belief, Mata once helped in organizing a Bhandaara at Shridhar's place. But, she had to leave the place to escape Bhairon Nath. As Mata left the place, Shridhar started giving up food in grief and started praying for Mata Vaishno Devi.
Mata came in his dreams and asked him to search for her at the cave in the Trikuta Mountain. This led to the discovery of the holy cave. Shridhar found three head atop a rock, which are currently known as the Holy Pindies t is then that Mata Vaishnavi appeared in his vision (dream) and told him to search for her at the Holy Cave situated amidst the folds of the Trikuta 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, the vision of his dreams reappeared before his eyes and finally he reached his destination. Upon entering the Cave he found a rock form with three heads atop it. At that moment Mata Vaishno Devi appeared before him in all her glory (another version says that the Supreme Energies of Mata Maha Saraswati, Mata Maha Lakshmi and Mata Maha Kali appeared in the Holy Cave) and introduced him to the three heads (now known as the Holy Pindies) 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 Mata at the Holy Cave.
Vaishnodevi Temple Jammu
According to legend, Mata Vaishno Devi was born in the Southern part of India, to Ratnakar Sagar. Her parents had been childless for several years and yearned to sire a child. Just the night before the birth of the Divine Child, Ratnakar had promised that he would never ever interfere with whatever his child chose to do later in life. Mata Vaishno Devi was born the next day and was named Trikuta. She was later called Vaishnavi because she had taken birth from the lineage of Lord Vishnu. When she was 9 years old, Trikuta sought her father's permission for performing penance on the seashore. Trikuta sat there, praying to Lord Rama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. At that very time, Lord Rama passed along the seashore, in search of Goddess Sita, who had been abducted by the Demon King, Ravana. Rama was present with his entire Vanara Sena (Army of Monkeys).
Lord Rama Seeing the beautiful girl with the divine glow, deep in prayer and meditation, he approached her and blessed her. Trikuta told Rama that she had already accepted him as her husband. Rama, being Eka Patni Vrata (vowed to have only one spouse), had decided that he would wed and be faithful only to Sita. However, moved by the girl's devotion towards him, the Lord gave her the name Vaishnavi and promised her that during Kaliyuga, he would take an avatar of Kalki and would then marry her. Rama, in the meantime, also instructed Trikuta to meditate in a particular cave found in the Trikuta Range of Manik Mountains, situated in Northern India. He proceeded to give her a bow and arrows, a small army of monkeys and also a lion for her protection. The Divine Mother then decided to observe the 'Navratra', to pray for the victory of Lord Rama against Ravana. Even today, devotees read the Ramayana during the 9 days of the Navratri festival. Rama also promised her that the entire world would sing her praises and revere her as Mata Vaishno Devi. It is due to Rama's blessings that Mata Vaishno Devi attained immortality and now attracts several hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to the shrine each year According to legend, at the time when the Mother Goddess was engaged in waging terrible wars against and destroying the Asuras or demons causing chaos in the world, Her three main manifestations, namely, Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati united into one single power, pooling in their collective spiritual strength. This unification created a bright tejas or aura and a beautiful young girl emerged from this tejas. The girl asked the Mother Goddesses for instructions to proceed ahead with her mission. The Devis told her that her mission was to manifest on Earth and spend her time there, upholding Dharma or righteousness. They asked the divine girl to take human birth in the home of Ratnakar and then go on to lead a life of piousness and penance, so as to raise her own consciousness to the level of Godhead. They also told her that once she had attained that level of consciousness, she would then automatically merge into and become one with Lord Vishnu. Accordingly, the girl took birth as a beautiful little girl child. She had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and displayed keen leanings towards spirituality and a quest for the knowledge of the inner self. She would go into deep meditation and stay in that state for hours together. She then decided to renounce all worldly comforts and travel deep into the forest to perform severe austerities and penance. This is when she met Lord Rama and attained his blessings. She wanted to become one with Rama, as was her mission. However, Rama, knowing that this was not the appropriate time, promised her that he would visit her again, after the end of his exile. He told her that if she recognized him at that time, he would then fulfill her wish.
Rama kept his word and visited her after winning the battle against Ravana. He came to her in the guise of an old man, who Vaishnavi could not recognise. She was completely distraught when Rama revealed his true self. Rama laughed and told her that the time had yet not come for them to be with one another. He also assured her that they would unite during Kaliyug, asking her to set up her ashram in the foot of the Trikuta Hills and serve to uplift the poor and the destitute. Vaishnavi's Ashram Thrives and Flourishes With Rama's blessings, people came to know of Vaishnavi's glory and the word of her ashram spread far wide. Very soon, devotees and followers began to flock to her Ashram in order to get a darshan from her.
A devotee of Vaishno Devi, Sridhar, organised a Bhandara (Community meal) in which the whole village and Mahayogi Guru GorakshNathJi along with all his followers were invited as per Vaishno Devi's wishes. Guru Gorakshnath visited this Bhandara along with more 300 disciples including the Bhairavnath. Bhairavnath was amazed by seeing the power of divine mother. He wanted to test her powers. For this, he asked Guru GorakshnathJi for his permission. Guru Gorakshnath told Bhairavnath that he did not recommend this but if he still wanted to test Vaishno Devi's powers, he could go ahead and do so. Bhairavnath then attempted to grab Vaishno Devi but she fought him back and then decided to flee the place. She ran away into the mountains in order to resume her penance. However, Bhairon Nath continued to chase her there as well. On the way to the mountains, Vaishnavi took several halts at Banganga, Charan Paduka and Adhkwari. She ultimately reached the cave where she intended to continue her tapasya.
To her chagrin, Bhairon Nath followed her there as well. Finally, losing all patience, she decided to kill him to end his harassment. Vaishno Devi Buy this Poster VAISHNO DEVI Coming out to the mouth of the cave, she beheaded him. Bhairon Nath lay dead at her feet, his severed head flying off with a force and falling at a distant hilltop. His soul, realizing his folly after his death, approached the Goddess and prayed to her to forgive him for his misdeeds. The benevolent Goddess immediately felt compassionate towards him and granted him a boon that each and every devotee visiting her shrine would then also have to take a darshan of Bhairon, in order to complete their pilgrimage. The Goddess then decided to shed her human form and take the form of a rock in order to continue uninterrupted with her meditation. Vaishnavi, hence, gives her devotees darshan in the form of a five and half feet tall rock, with three pindies or heads on the top. The cave where she transformed herself is now the holy shrine of Sri Mata Vaishno Devi and the pindies form the sanctum sanctorum There are many other legends associated with Vaishno Devi. One of them relates that the Pandavas visited the holy cave and built a shrine there. After that, Prahlad, the son of the terrible Demon King, Hiranyakashipu, undertook a journey to the shrine.
However, the most famous legend is that of a Brahmin, Shridhar, who lived in a village called Hansali, located at the foot of the Trikuta Parbat. This village lies adjacent to the present day town of Katra. Shridhar was a staunch devotee of the Goddess Shakti. He was very poor and could barely afford a square meal a day. However, he was happy and contented, in the knowledge that the Devi was forever there to guard him from any harm. The Goddess Vaishnavi appeared before him in a dream one night, taking the form of a young girl, or Kanya. Shridhar, overwhelmed by this darshan and utterly grateful to his ishta devata, decided to undertake a grand Bhandara ceremony in the village, also inviting people residing in all the nearby villages to participate in the event. From that day on, he started visiting the villagers' houses, requesting them to donate rice, vegetables and other provisions that would be necessary to conduct this Bhandara. While some people acceded to his request, most others turned him down. Some even taunted him for planning to hold a Bhandara, when he did could not even feed himself. As the day of the planned Bhandara drew closer, Shridhar started getting worried about how he was going to feed so many guests. Shridhar could not sleep a wink on the eve of the Bhandara. He kept thinking of ways and means to collect more food and provisions to feed his guests the next day, but could not arrive at any solution whatsoever. Finally, he just decided to surrender to the Goddess' will and face the next day as and when it came upon him.
The next morning, Shridhar prepared for a pooja (prayer session) just outside his hut. His guests started streaming in by mid-morning. Seeing him praying so intently, they decided not to disturb him and made themselves comfortable wherever they could find the place to sit. Strangely enough, they found that they could all be seated comfortably inside Shridhar's small hut. The hut was really small and the crowd grew larger and larger. Yet, there seemed to be enough space inside the hut to accommodate a lot more people. Having finished his pooja, Shridhar opened his eyes and saw the staggering number of guests who had arrived for the Bhandara. He was just starting to wonder how he would tell his guests that he would not be able to feed them, when he saw the Goddess Vaishnavi emerge out of his little hut. The Devi had seen to it that everyone got to eat the food of their choice and that they were all happy by the end of the meal. The Bhandara turned out a great success and his guests left his place, completely satisfied.